BFH: conspiracy theories are not for profit – business

Incidence figures are on the rise again, but the number of people vaccinated is stagnating. It is therefore not excluded that Germany will face another Corona winter – with new restrictions in many areas of life. If this is the case, the resistance of critics will likely ignite again against anything they perceive to be state encroachment. Many of them are now very well networked and organized – also in associations which like to be sponsored by the tax office as a charity.

This raises difficult questions: how many contradictions must the state tolerate? And when can the authorities refuse funding to critics? The Federal Finance Court (BFH) has now answered these questions in the context of an emergency procedure (Az. VB 25/21): If an association provides information that contradicts parliaments and governments, it is fundamentally protected. But anyone who wants to create a political vibe with thinly disguised wrestling calls and conspiracy theories is not a nonprofit.

With this decision, the BFH is once again entering sensitive territory. On the one hand, those who already suspect that the state and the judiciary want to silence critics of the Corona measures should feel confirmed. Because the loss of the association means significant financial losses for the clubs. You then have to pay more taxes and are not allowed to issue donation receipts that donors can claim on their tax return. On the other hand, there is again the dispute over what is still a necessary commitment for the funded goal – and what is political. At least since the BFH revoked the nonprofit organization status of the globalization critical organization Attac in early 2019, new legal regulations have been requested repeatedly – but so far without success.

The case now decided by the BFH concerns an association founded last year which aims to “promote public health” and “promote the general democratic state” – two objectives which are non-profit under current law. This is how the association was initially treated by the competent tax administration. A little later, however, officials found on its website, among other things, a call on federal and state governments to immediately lift the corona measures – and a reference that if that doesn’t happen, the right to resist. anchored in the base The law would apply. In addition, videos were shown in which an official spoke about the “other powers” who had planned the pandemic and on which politics depended. The tax administration then recognized the status of non-profit association: it did not promote the goals set out in the statutes, but pursued purely political goals.

The Munich finance court saw it this way – and so did the BFH. Because, according to the assessment of the judges, it was not only a question of “punctual, minor, but continuous violations”, the association “has exceeded the limits of what is necessarily linked to a certain political objective of promoting the public health “. It simply lacks “a link with the prevention and control of epidemics and disease”.

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