Should the childless pay more tax?
The Local · 15 Feb 2012, 07:00
Published: 15 Feb 2012 07:00 GMT+01:00
In a detailed paper submitted to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the conservative group surrounding Marco Wanderwitz, suggested that from next year, Germans over the age of 25 who do not have children, should pay a share of their income as a special tax.
Those with one child should pay half the rate, while the tax would be dropped altogether for people with two children.
“In particular regarding health and nursing insurance, people without any or just with one child currently profit considerably from the fact that others in their generation have had two or more children – because in old age they will get the same communal service with clearly reduced contribution,” the paper said.
Although the level of additional income tax was not mentioned in the paper, Die Welt daily said the thinking was of one percent for those with no children at all.
Wanderwitz said he wanted to stimulate a debate after young MPs expressed frustration that the extra payments levied since 2004 from childless people to pay for old age care were not creating enough of a financial reserve – and that other services funded by capital stockpiles should also include such provision.
Family Minister Kristina Schröder said she found it a more sensible proposition to support families with children rather than to penalise people without. And Merkel, who herself has no children, rejected the idea. She said on Tuesday she thought the idea of splitting people according to whether they had offspring or not, was not helpful.
Indeed the number of exceptions which would have to be written into any general childlessness tax proposal might seem mind-boggling – what about those who cannot medically have children? Or those in homosexual relationships – or people who are not in relationships at all? How about people raising step-children, or those without children who earn more as a result – and thus also pay more income tax anyhow? Would parents whose children die suddenly find their income tax rising?
Yet German social provision relies on income taxes which are simply not going to be available when the working population declines, as it is set to do, leaving a large bulge of pensioners needing medical and nursing care – to be paid for by a much smaller working generation. Would a tax on those who have not paid to raise those workers be a fair measure?
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