BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Germany spent more than 30 times as much collecting taxes on coffee beans ordered online from abroad than it received in the tax revenues, the accounting office said on Tuesday.
Some 4,000 Germans who bought coffee over the Internet from other EU countries but failed to pay the coffee tax have been charged between a few cents to 10 euros ($14.81) in taxes and fees, said Dieter Engels, head of Germany's Federal Accounting Office.
Tax collectors ended up with just 25,000 euros, way below the 800,000 euros in the costs of staff charged with collecting the payments, Engels said.
Germany is one of the few European countries to levy a special coffee tax which is currently set at 2.19 euros per kg.
Engels said that other administrative costs often exceeded the amount collected. It usually takes up to a year for customs to handle the cases.
"While the financial and customs authorities are too lax on some occasions, they go overboard in others," Engels said.
"This has led to somewhat grotesque results in coffee taxation."
Reporting by Sakari Suoninen