Germans Working Under Table Could Face Jail Time | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 15.10.2003
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Germans Working Under Table Could Face Jail Time

Germans earning undeclared income, the so-called Schwarzarbeiter, may be serverely punished in the future if German Finance Minister Hans Eichel gets his way. Eichel, who made his intention known to combat under-the-table employment this past summer, is planning to introduce new legislation imminently. According to reports in the Financial Times and the Bild newspapers, in severe cases violators could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. The law would change the evasion of social security contributions from an civil offense into a felony. And investigators will henceforth have an easier time hunting down violators, as they will no longer have to catch them red-handed but can investigate previous offenses. Eichel is hoping to reclaim the estimated €1 million in tax income the German government is currently losing from undeclared revenue. Experts quoted in the Bild article estimate that approximately 10 million Germans regularly earn undeclared income, and they fear the new legislation could make every eighth German subject to prosecution. Eichel is also planning to deploy a total of nearly 7,000 investigators in 113 different cities to investigate both current and past labor-related crimes.