Decisions for publication and not for publication
Since 1952 the Federal Fiscal Court publishes selected decisions. When publishing its decisions, the Federal Fiscal Court distinguishes between decisions intended for official publication and decisions not intended for official publication.
This was of particular importance before the Code of Procedure of Fiscal Courts entered into force in 1966. Under §§ 64 and 66 of the Reich Fiscal Code in force until then, only decisions of fundamental importance published in accordance with these provisions were binding on the other senates of the Federal Fiscal Court. The Federal Ministry of Finance decided on the type of publication. The publication within the meaning of § 64 of the Reich Fiscal Code was made in Part III of the Federal Tax Gazette, which at that time was published by the Federal Fiscal Court.
Publication practice since the entry into force of the Code of Procedure of Fiscal Courts
Decisions for publication
Since the Code of Procedure of Fiscal Courts came into force in 1966, the decisions which the Senates continue to designate for publication in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Federal Fiscal Court because of their significance over and above the specific case are published in the Collection of Decisions of the Federal Fiscal Court (BFHE).
At the same time, the tax authorities decide in these decisions whether they are to be published in Part II of the Federal Tax Gazette, now published by the Federal Ministry of Finance, as binding on the tax authorities in the sense of an administrative instruction and thus also "officially" in this respect. The tax authorities may refuse such publication. Decisions of the Federal Fiscal Court are then published in the Federal Tax Gazette either not at all or with a non-application decree instructing the tax authorities not to apply a decision of the Federal Fiscal Court beyond the particular case decided.
Decisions not for publication
Decisions not for publication are decisions which are in principle considered to be relevant only to the individual case decided. Previously these were not published, which led to the accusation of "secret justice". Consequently, since 01 February 2008, the Federal Fiscal Court has also published a large number of decisions not intended for official publication, provided that they are worthy of documentation, for example to clarify existing judicial decisions on taxation practice.
All decisions intended for publication are made available to the general public on the website of the Federal Fiscal Court after anonymisation (removal of references to specific taxable persons to maintain tax secrecy). The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Federal Office of Justice also make the decisions of the Federal Fiscal Court available to the general public via the website www.rechtsprechung-im-internet.de.
After the retention periods have expired, selected files are permanently stored by the Federal Archives and can be viewed there in compliance with the regulations of the Federal Archives Act (for example, protection periods). Further information on the use of archival records can be found at www.bundesarchiv.de. The Federal Archives decide on applications to inspect archived files.