The Federal Fiscal Court

The Federal Fiscal Court is the Court of last resort within the German jurisdiction over tax and customs matters. It is one of the five Federal Supreme Courts, established according to Article 95 of the Basic Law and has its seat in Munich. The Federal Fiscal Court predominantly adjudicates in legal remedy procedures upon the legality of assessments of taxes and duties, furthermore about child allowance, investment allowance and certain concerns regarding the professional law for tax consultants. The main task of the Federal Fiscal Court is to ensure the consistency of both, application and execution of law by the interpretation of the law. In addition to this, the case law of the Federal Fiscal Court contributes to the development of tax law in conformity with the Basic Law.

Oftentimes, the jurisdiction of the Federal Fiscal Court has considerable effects on the legal practice of the fiscal administration and, as a consequence also has extensive impact on the federal budget. The Federal Fiscal Court only adjudicates on the correct application of law in concrete individual cases. Although its decisions can only bind the respective parties, they are still authoritative for the taxation of other tax paying citizens where the same facts of case apply. This follows from the fact that the judgment’s and decision’s essence regularly flows into the treasury regulations and other administration guidelines, which are being adhered to by the legal practice and fiscal authorities.


The Proceedings


The Federal Fiscal Court reviews the Fiscal Courts' judgments regarding the legitimate application of federal law, in exceptional cases also of the law of the Länder. As an appellate court it exclusively decides upon points of law; the finding of the facts concerning the merits of a case has to be made by the Fiscal Courts. Generally, their findings of facts are binding upon the Federal Fiscal Court. It has to refer the case back to the Fiscal Court, if this court did not ascertain all the essential facts concerning the merits of the case.

The appeal on a point of law before the Federal Fiscal Court can only be raised by the parties, if the Fiscal Court or - following an appeal against denial of leave to appeal - the Federal Fiscal Court has granted leave to appeal.

Leave to appeal on a point of law can only be granted if

- the case is of fundamental legal significance or

- the case law or the consistency of the jurisdiction make a decision by the Federal Fiscal Court necessary or

- a procedure error has been asserted, on which the appealed judgment might be based.

Against decisions of the Fiscal Courts, which are not judgments, an objection to the Federal Fiscal Court might be admissible under certain tight legal requirements.

Before the Federal Fiscal Court representation is compulsory, e.g. the tax payer has to file and constitute remedies through a procurator, who according to the law on tax consultancy is authorized for businesslike support in tax matters.

The Federal Fiscal Court has to decide upon the appeal based on the oral proceedings; however in an overwhelming number of cases though, under the agreement of the parties, the decision is taken without oral proceedings.