Government slates ‘Robin Hoods’ wealth tax

An alliance of non-profit groups and unions wants to see Germany's super-rich to pay more to keep the state from going broke.

Government slates 'Robin Hoods' wealth tax
Photo: DPA

The coalition of unions, social organizations and NGO’s has launched a new push for a higher tax on top earners in an attempt to cap the rapidly growing national debt and enable greater investment in education and renewable energy.

They follow the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) which suggested last month that people with a substantial private fortune be made to spend 10 percent of what they have over €250,000 on government bonds.

The coalition presented its proposal on Friday in Berlin, calling for a permanent restoration of the property tax and a one-time capital tax on Germany’s richest, as well as more taxes on inheritance and investment income.

“The time is ripe for redistribution,” said Frank Bsirske, the head of the service union Verdi, who added that as long as Germany was a tax haven for the wealthy, heirs and speculators, the welfare state was at risk.

The opposition Social Democrats as well as the Greens and the Left party have praised the suggestion.

The Greens’ fiscal policy spokesman Gerhard Schick said it was unacceptable that “social services and public infrastructure are cut because the conservative government has dispensed with levelling adequate taxes on wealth.”

But the Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their coalition partner the pro-business Free Democrats said higher taxes were the wrong way to go.

“Income redistribution remains the favourite drug of the political left, but is absolutely intolerable for our national economy,” warned FDP General Secretary Patrick Döring.

Döring also levelled a personal attack at Verdi head Frank Brsirke, saying he was aiming to gain “the popularity of Robin Hood.”

The Local/sh

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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.