Steinbrück chastises the ‘excesses’ of Germany’s rich

Former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück condemned the “excesses” of Germany’s privileged classes on Friday, blaming tax dodgers for helping to perpetuate social problems.

Steinbrück chastises the 'excesses' of Germany's rich
Photo: DPA

“Parallel societies don’t just exist on the lower end, but also at the top of the income pyramid,” he told daily Westdeutsche Zeitung. “There some say, ‘We don’t need the state, every euro of taxes is too much. We don’t need public services, we can buy them privately.”

These people, and not left- or right-wing extremists, are the true danger to German society, he told the paper.

“It is the privileged, who through their excess and false sense of balance and proportions, and the mentality of personal gain, saw through the branch on which they’re sitting,” the centre-left Social Democrat said. “These people lack a sense of social connection for integrating the losers.”

People in the upper class must understand that “their exaggerated profit expectations lead to the destruction of the market economy,” he told the paper, adding that their “personal income development cannot go on like this.”

But the government can’t instil a sense of common welfare in the wealthy through laws, Steinbrück said, explaining that only widespread debate would bring success.


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Germany and France extend Covid tax breaks for cross-border workers

Germany and France have agreed to extend the relaxation of tax rules for cross-border workers until the end of the year.

Cross-border workers commute by car but they can for now continue to work at home
Cross-border workers usually have to commute but can for now continue to work at home.. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The agreements between France and the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy avoids double taxation issues for anyone travelling across the French border to or from those countries in order to work.

During the pandemic, tax rules were eased to allow French cross-border employees, like their counterparts in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, to work from home without having to change their tax status.

The deals, which were established at the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020, were due to end on September 30th – and would have plunged cross-border workers still working from home because of the health crisis into renewed uncertainty over their taxes.

The latest extension of these agreements means there’s no confusion over where a cross-border worker pays their taxes until December 31st – for example cross-border workers who work in Geneva but live in France, who normally pay their taxes and social security contributions in Switzerland. 

Under normal circumstances, anyone living in France who works in Switzerland can spend no more than 25 percent of their time working from home. If they exceed this time limit, they would have to pay these tax charges tin France rather than in Switzerland, which would be much higher.

The agreements between France and Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland “provide that days worked at home because of the recommendations and health instructions related to the Covid-19 pandemic may … be considered as days worked in the state where [workers] usually carry out their activity and therefore remain taxable,” according to the statement from the French Employment Ministry.

In the case of Luxembourg, days worked from home because of the health crisis are not counted in usual the 29 day limit.