Authorities are increasingly asking banks about the account movements of citizens. These authorities are particularly curious and these are the prerequisites for the authorities being allowed to ask bank account inquiries.
Authorities are increasingly checking citizens’ bank accounts
German authorities are increasingly conducting bank account inquiries. The requesting authorities are primarily tax offices and social welfare authorities who want to track down tax fraudsters or uncover unauthorized social benefits by fraud. But money laundering and terrorist financing should also be uncovered. Such account access procedures have been possible since 2005, and since 2013 bailiffs have also been able to ask banks to track the account movements of debtors.
More and more account queries
The Federal Central Tax Office carries out the account queries centrally on behalf of the other state-legitimized authorities, as can be seen from this “small query” by the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. The number of account queries has increased massively in recent years: in 2015 there were 302,000 queries, in 2021 1.14 million. The financial authorities (federal and state governments) alone made almost 286,000 account inquiries in 2021; In 2017 it was just over 171,000.
Tax offices are not even that curious
The Federal Government’s answer to this “small question” reveals further exciting details. For example, in 2020 the million mark was broken for the first time, with 1,014,704 requests. In 2021, more than 37,000 inquiries came from the federal tax authorities alone. Among the state tax authorities, North Rhine-Westphalia was the most curious, although this state also has the most residents. Bavaria ranks second. However, most of the inquiries come from municipalities by a clear margin.
Bailiffs are particularly interested
Benefits agencies, bailiffs, and child support agencies made over 855,000 account inquiries in 2021. The bailiffs were particularly busy with over 685,000 inquiries in 2021. The federal government expressly confirms this in its answer: “The majority of account retrievals (approx. 85 percent) are carried out in the enforcement proceedings by bailiffs or administrative enforcement authorities.”
The federal police authorities, on the other hand, only asked 41 times in 2021. The state police authorities were again curious 759 times and the state constitutional protection authorities made a further 191 inquiries.
When are account queries allowed?
The federal government also explains the prerequisite for why such account inquiries can be made: “The factual prerequisite for an account access…is that a request for information to the person concerned has not led to the goal or does not promise success…The authorities requesting account access and Bodies have to confirm this in their account retrieval request to the Federal Central Tax Office. There is no breakdown as to which of the two reasons the account retrieval request is made (request for information unsuccessful or request for information promises no success).”
Incidentally, the federal government cannot answer the exciting question of how many criminal proceedings were initiated as a result of the results of the account inquiries. Because this data is only available to the federal states.