A German regional official has been targeted by hate mail after announcing plans to track down potential tax evaders.
Danyal Bayaz – the finance minister in southwestern Baden-Württemberg state – had suggested allowing German authorities to receive anonymous online tip-offs if someone was avoiding taxes.
But Bayaz was widely criticised online for the proposal, with some accusing him of reviving habits from Germany’s totalitarian past.
On Thursday, the regional minister retweeted some hateful messages directed at him that contained racist references to his Turkish family roots.
The plan to track down possible fraudsters is causing a stir in Germany less than a month before the federal elections.
Tax evasion is considered a widely practiced “national sport”, including by the former president of Bayern Munich football club.
Bayaz, who is a member of the Green party that took office in May, announced this week that a new online portal would allow citizens to send anonymous tips to state tax inspectors.
Such messages can already be submitted by email and letter, but the latest move sparked outrage from political opponents and some media outlets in Germany.
The tabloid newspaper Bild labeled Bayaz “tax Stasi” on Thursday, a reference to the East German secret police who famously forced neighbours and family members to inform on people’s private lives.
Bernd Gögel, leader of the far-right AfD party in the regional parliament said the initiative “creates a climate of mistrust”.
Bayaz has defended the plan, noting that Germany loses about €50 billion euros to tax evasion each year.