The economy welcomes the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court published on Wednesday, according to which the previous 6 percent interest on back tax payments and refunds is too high.

In view of hardly any capital market interest rates, the high actuarial tax rate is unrealistic.

Due to its high creditworthiness, the state can even borrow at negative interest rates, so it makes money when it borrows some.

Therefore, Wednesday's decision could also have consequences in other tax law issues.

Mark Fehr

Editor in business.

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"We welcome the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court because it takes account of our long-standing demand for market-based interest rates in tax law," says Klaus-Peter Naumann, spokesman for the board of directors of the IDW auditing institute.

The IDW had already requested changes in the past and issued a corresponding statement to the responsible Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court in April 2018.

IDW spokesman Naumann is now calling for further consequences.

The legislature should take the opportunity to take a holistic approach to the subject of interest rates in tax law.

This applies in particular to the tax discount rate of 6 percent for the valuation of pension obligations.

According to the IDW, this is also too high, remote from the market and meets constitutional concerns.

It burdens companies and weakens company pension schemes.

"Against the background of the increasing importance of company pension schemes, their tax disadvantage should be reduced by significantly lowering the interest rates for discounting the balance sheet items concerned," Naumann demands.

3 percent instead of 6 percent in the future?

What tax interest rate could be set in the future instead of the previous 6 percent? According to Ecovis tax advisor Alexander Kimmerle from Kempten, the Federal Constitutional Court does not prescribe an interest rate in its judgment, but only sets out general rules for determining it. The legislature must set a new interest rate by the end of July 2022. According to Kimmerle, a lot currently looks like 3 percent per year or 0.25 percent per interest month. Before the legislature has made a new regulation, nothing will change. Because of the upcoming elections and the expected lengthy formation of a government, nothing more will be decided this year. According to Kimmerle, all that remains is to wait and see.

If taxpayers get reimbursements from the tax office because they have paid too high taxes in the past, they have even been able to earn money from the high interest rates.

Do those affected now have to expect reimbursement?

According to tax advisor Stefan Renger, there is no reason for this concern.

According to Renger, it is not permissible to reclaim reimbursement interest from taxpayers.

A provision in the tax code protects the taxpayer's confidence in a decision issued in his favor, even if it turns out that the provision applied is unconstitutional.

If the taxpayer has received a notice of reimbursement interest, the tax office cannot claim the money back.

According to Renger, this applies even if the decision was issued with reservations.