Why Cashless puts Freedom at Risks

Friedrich Schneider is a respected economist. If one believes the estimates of the professor emeritus from Linz, undeclared work worth around 420 billion euros will be done in Germany this year. The Federal Statistical Office tries to capture the shadow economy in the national accounts. Nevertheless, according to Schneider’s estimate, around every tenth euro paid for services bypasses the tax authorities – not least because these services are always paid in cash.

Out of understandable self-interest, the state has always tried to curb this shadow economy. Customs controls on construction sites to identify workers who are not properly registered, forgery-proof cash registers in retail and catering, fiscal taximeters or the tax deductibility of household services are weapons of the tax authorities against undeclared work.

Now it looks like the EU Commission wants to use a far greater caliber in the fight against organized crime: the restriction or even the abolition of cash payments. According to the plans from Brussels, invoices should in principle only be allowed to be paid in cash up to 10,000 euros. Everyday illegal work would probably hardly be affected by this; obviously the Brussels administration has its sights set on organized crime.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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