Mystery depositors use Hungary tax amnesty to launder $140 million

January 22, 2015

12614332-symbolic-picture-with-euros-for-money-washingIt may not be money laundering, but it’s the next best thing.  And in Hungary it’s perfectly legal.  Best of all, it’s tax free!

To date some 610 mystery depositors have availed themselves of the opportunity to repatriate money to Hungary without having to pay taxes of any kind.  All that is required is that they deposit HUF 5 million (USD 18,000) or more into a “stability savings account” for five years.  Such deposits are automatically invested in state treasury bills.   Daily nap.hu reports that HUF 37.88 billion (USD 140 million) has been deposited to date for an average of HUF 62 million (USD 230,000) per depositor.

By law banks are not permitted to disclose the name of the account owner to authorities.

Privatebanker.hu writes that the vehicle is attractive thanks to its variable tax rate.  Anyone withdrawing the funds within the first three years is required to pay twice the current 16 percent tax on interest income.  Those withdrawing funds at the end of three years are required to pay the current 16 percent tax on interest income.  However, deposits withdrawn after four years are only subject to an 8 percent tax on interest income.  And deposits withdrawn after five years are exempt from all taxes.

Critics point out that the construction is bad for tax morale.