Hamburg Revokes 2010 Tax Exemption for WikiLeaks Supporter

Discussion in 'Wikileaks' started by The Wrong Guy, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Hamburg Authority Deals Blow to WikiLeaks

    By Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

    Translated from German by Christopher Sultan

    The tax authority in the city-state of Hamburg is suddenly playing an important role in determining the future of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. By revoking the tax-exempt status of the site's main financial supporter in Germany for the 2010 calendar year, the authority could place a further strain on the organization's future.

    When Julian Assange meets with visitors in his temporary home in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he likes to direct the conversation to a topic that worries him: the precarious finances of the whistle-blowing website he founded. That was apparently the case when fashion designer Vivienne Westwood recently showed up at the embassy with a bottle of wine. Earlier this month, the 71-year-old began selling €55 ($71) T-shirts on her website featuring the words "I'm Julian Assange." She promises that the proceeds will go to WikiLeaks, and says that Assange is "a real hero."

    However, the financial future of the website is more likely to be determined by news Assange received from Germany the week before last, news that has received little coverage in the international press: As of Oct. 25, the Hamburg Tax Office retroactively revoked the non-profit status of the Wau Holland Foundation (WHS), the organization that handles and transfers donations to WikiLeaks from Germany. The foundation is named after the co-founder of Germany's famed Chaos Computer Club, a hacker organization with a strong international reputation.

    A Blow to Funding

    The decision applies specifically to the year 2010 and means that WHS no longer enjoys a tax-exempt status for that period. In other words, the decision applies to the year in which WikiLeaks published a large number of classified documents, primarily from the United States government, and took in more donations than ever before. With its decision, the Hamburg Tax Office has struck a blow to the most important source of funding still available to the website. The Germans have always been "one of the most generous groups in terms of donations to WikiLeaks," says Assange. The money, he adds, is the "lifeblood of WikiLeaks."

    American companies like PayPal and credit-card providers MasterCard and Visa terminated their services to WikiLeaks only days after the publication of the first diplomatic cables from US embassies -- without consulting WikiLeaks, and likely out of preemptive obedience to government orders, as a remark by a PayPal executive suggests. Assange likes to point out that the "financial blockade," which has now been going on for two years, has potentially cost WikiLeaks millions in revenues from donations.

    This month's decision in Hamburg doesn't just strike a blow to WikiLeaks, but also to the foundation itself, its other projects and its donors. It means that all donors who remitted money to WHS in 2010, be it for the Tor anonymity project, the development of a hacker archive or WikiLeaks itself, can not deduct the donations on their tax returns.

    A Politically Motivated Decision?

    The decision is "part of the bigger economic blockade against WikiLeaks," Assange believes. WHS board member Bernd Fix is also convinced that the decision, which had its beginnings in the western German state of Hesse, is "clearly politically motivated." This is extremely harmful to the foundation, Fix adds. "The damage to our reputation is our biggest problem." He reports that more than 100 donors have already complained about not having received charitable donation receipts.

    His suspicions have to do with the timing of the authorities' heightened scrutiny of the foundation. It began in December 2010, a few days after the publication of the embassy cables, which SPIEGEL also participated in.

    At the time, donations suddenly increased dramatically. In December alone, says Fix, about €500,000 in donations were received for WikiLeaks, while total payments received for what the foundation calls "WHS Project 04" amounted to €1.33 million in 2010.

    From the standpoint of the United States, the small German foundation, which at the time was based in the central German city of Kassel in the state of Hesse, had become a big problem -- a bubbling source of funding for the new public enemy and the "most dangerous man in the world," as Assange was suddenly being called in Washington.

    More at
  2. Anonymous Member

    fucker shoulda stayed underground... but no
  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    WikiLeaks donations now tax deductible EU wide

    Monday, 26th November 1900 GMT

    Wau-Holland-Stiftung (WHS), named in memory of the German philosopher and net activist Wau Holland, has been collecting donations for WikiLeaks since 2009. In the immediate aftermath of WikiLeaks publication of the US diplomatic cables in 2010, not only did PayPal arbitarily shut down the WHS donations account, but the tax-exempt status of the Foundation was challenged as well.

    It took almost two years of negotiations with German tax authorities to strike a deal: Tax exemption (charitable status) will be granted again going forwards and going back to 2011, but not for 2010. (See: "Taxing Transparency", Der Spiegel, 13 Nov 2012).

    Therefore, citizens of EU member states will be able to donate to WikiLeaks operations through WHS and in addition, write the donation off from their income tax. This is because of a ruling of the European Court in 2009 (Decision C-318_07), which mandates that every member state must honor the tax exemption decision of any other member state.

    And this is how you make a money transfer to support WikiLeaks:
    Recipient: Wau Holland Stiftung
    Bank: Commerzbank Kassel, Königsplatz 32-34, 34117 Kassel, Germany
    IBAN: DE46 5204 0021 0277 2812 04
    Reference: WikiLeaks or Project 04 if you prefer
    Add your e-mail or postal address to receive a tax-deductible donation receipt.

    Hamburg, 26. Nov 2012 Wau-Holland-Stiftung

    Other methods of donation:


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