Which politicians got wealthy while serving the taxpayers?

The Reich Flight Tax: A request to politicians


With the "Law to Repeal Obsolete Tax Regulations" in 1953, the so-called Reich Flight Tax was eliminated. Already created in the Weimar Republic, it has served since 1933 to rob refugees and those willing to emigrate on behalf of the state. An offensive chapter in the history of capital flight combined with a request to the politicians of Martin Rath.

In July 1918, shortly before Kaiser Wilhelm II himself fled to the Netherlands, His Majesty passed a law against tax evasion - the financial burden of the war economy made it attractive. The Weimar National Assembly tightened the law on June 24, 1919 (RGBl I, p. 583): If there was any suspicion that "the taxpayer's assets are to be withdrawn from domestic tax access", the tax office was now able to provide "security" of 50 percent of the assets desire.

After these tax laws caused by the war economy had expired, Reich President Hindenburg issued another "Reich Flight Tax" by emergency decree of December 8, 1931. This tax, which in the years of the Nazi regime also served to exploit refugees from Germany economically, was therefore not an invention of the dictatorship.

In her work on "Bureaucracy and Crime", Christiane Kuller, Professor of Contemporary History in Berlin, states that the Reichsfluchtsteuer was popular among the population and among financial experts - unlike the burdens on wage earners and civil servants that were put into effect at the same time.

Property levy of 25 percent, in case of doubt, penitentiary

The Reichsfluchtsteuer, initially limited to December 31, 1932, later extended to the end of 1934 and then made indefinite in a bizarre legislative process, encumbered the assets of taxpayers who left Germany with a one-off payment of 25 percent. Assets from a size of 200,000 Reichsmarks or from taxpayers who had an annual income of this amount were initially used.

Describing the levy dramatically as a "Reich Flight Tax" instead of a neutral "emigration tax" was according to the Kuller system, because the tax also had a symbolic function: "On the one hand, it should have a deterrent effect on wealthy people who bring their money abroad and thus the permanently withdraw the German tax authorities [...]. " On the other hand, it should - in view of the reparation obligations from the Versailles Treaty - show that the heavily indebted German Reich seized all means to consolidate the budget.

The threats of punishment were not squeamish: there was a risk of imprisonment of no less than three months, in severe cases imprisonment for up to ten years, confiscation of property and unlimited fines.

Further development into an anti-Semitic instrument

In addition, "tax profiles" were introduced in 1931, which were supposed to lead to the imprisonment of refugees from the Reichfluchtsteuer as soon as one got hold of them. The introduction of special courts was also considered to deal with street riots and acts of terrorism in addition to flight from the Reich flight tax.

During the Nazi era, the tax authorities gradually developed the Reich flight tax into an instrument of anti-Semitic tax law. Because the racist regime now also drove recipients of lower incomes and owners of smaller assets into emigration, the tariffs were adjusted: In 1934 the tax exemption limit for assets was reduced from 200,000 to 50,000 Reichsmarks. The tax had to be paid even if the emigrant was to return.

Donations that Jewish parents in particular had given their children who had previously emigrated were soon taken into account. In addition to the immense security measures that were required when there was a suspicion of willingness to emigrate, this was one more reason for older people who wanted to emigrate in the late 1930s not to be able to flee the murderous state in time.