The certification is granted by the German Lawyers Academy (DAA). The background to this is that there is only a limited number of specialist lawyer titles under the German Fachanwaltsordnung (Specialist Solicitor Regulations). The legal designation “Specialist lawyer in Criminal Tax Law” has not yet been able to assert itself. In particular, criminal tax law is a very special field which lies at the borderline between criminal law, tax law and tax advice. Criminal tax law plays a role in the training of a specialist lawyer for criminal law, a specialist lawyer for tax law or a tax consultant. Since, however, from the point of view of the “main subjects”, this is a secondary subject, none of the corresponding courses usually deals in depth with the special features of criminal tax proceedings.
This training gap was closed in 2014 with the certification as a specialist consultant for criminal tax law. For the first time participants of the first course, which was conducted by the provider “Fachseminare von Fürstenberg”, were awarded the title “Certified Consultant for Criminal Tax Law”. The participants included both specialist lawyers for criminal law and specialist lawyers for tax law. In addition, the advanced training was aimed at lawyers from the legal and tax departments of companies as well as lawyers specialising in commercial and/or tax law. Highly qualified lecturers (tax consultants, tax investigators, university professors, judges and specialist lawyers) dealt comprehensively with all practically relevant areas of criminal tax law. This included topics such as preventive tax advice, self-reporting and so-called tax compliance in companies. The typical pitfalls of criminal tax law within the framework of the Code of Criminal Procedure are the subject of a further component of the training, which also dealt with the special features of searches, arrests in rem or pre-trial detention in criminal tax proceedings.
Estimates in tax law and in criminal tax proceedings (cf. § 162 AO) are a particularly important topic in practice. Such estimates present the legal system with particular challenges, since, on the one hand, in tax proceedings the person who does not keep proper accounts (e.g. innkeepers who issue black slips) should not be placed in a better position than the person who meticulously records every invoice. On the other hand, there are limits to estimation in criminal tax proceedings. Against the background of the presumption of innocence, the tax offices may not assume any arbitrarily high profits to the detriment of the client (so-called “moon estimates”).
The special features of court proceedings with the typical consequences of a judgement after a conviction for tax evasion are also the subject of the course. This also includes the possibilities of judicial and extrajudicial termination. Further topics of criminal tax law, which are dealt with in depth in the specialist course, are the references to international criminal tax law as well as special features of turnover tax, connections with corruption facts and the statute of limitations in criminal tax law.
The prerequisite for certification is at least three years of experience in tax law and/or criminal law. This can also be proven, for example, by the permission of a bar association to use the designation “specialist lawyer for criminal law” or “specialist lawyer for tax law”.
In addition, special practical experience as a tax defence lawyer must be proven for the acquisition of the title. This includes in particular that the respective lawyer has independently dealt with a number of cases from the area of criminal law or tax law before filing the application. All of the proven cases must be related to criminal tax law.
In order to obtain the title of certified expert consultant, proof of performance is also required in the form of written examinations, which would be worthy of the scope and difficulty of a “specialist lawyer for criminal tax law”.