• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Tax equality for gay German couples

The Local · 6 Jun 2013, 11:39

Published: 06 Jun 2013 11:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Jun 2013 11:39 GMT+02:00

The Federal Constitutional Court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe said denying gays and lesbians in civil partnerships tax breaks extended to married people violated their civil rights.

The scarlet-robed judges said their ruling applied retroactively to August 1, 2001, the day on which Germany created such so-called registered partnerships – a status that falls short of marriage under the law.

The court said that gay and lesbian couples must immediately be granted the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples because there were no "substantial grounds for unequal treatment."

It said a failure to do so contravened the equal treatment clause of Germany's Basic Law and ordered parliament to pass new legislation.

All parties in the Bundestag lower house had expressed their support for such a policy with the exception of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Union bloc.

The ruling marks a setback for Merkel's party with less than four months to go until a general election.

"What a joy – another step toward equality," Katrin Goering-Eckardt, a candidate for chancellor from the opposition Greens, tweeted in reaction to the decision. "And another embarrassment for the Merkel government."

Merkel said in a newspaper interview in December that she did not favour putting gay couples on the same tax footing as heterosexual ones because the constitution "sees marriage as directly linked to the family and both are under special protection of the state".

Married couples who have a big difference in salary, or where one partner does not work, benefit from having their incomes pooled in the calculation of their individual tax bills.

Same-sex couples had been denied such a tax break and the ruling will mean that the German tax authorities will have to pay out millions to gays and lesbians in civil unions who overpaid.

The decision followed a ruling in February which found that gays in a civil partnership should be allowed to adopt their partners' adopted children.

Story continues below…

Gay couples are still forbidden from adopting children together in Germany. Neighbouring France legalised same-sex marriage last month amid a bitter controversy over the issue, making it the 14th country to do so and the seventh in the European Union.

Nine US states as well as the capital Washington have also granted gays the right to marry.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Commerzbank to make one in five staff redundant by 2020
Photo: DPA

Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank said on Thursday it plans to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020 and withhold dividends to pay for a €1.1 billion restructuring.

Germany's favourite smoker wins battle against eviction
Photo: DPA

How a pensioner with a serious smoking habit won a years-long fight for his right to keep his home - and his favourite pastime.

Thousands evacuated after WWII bomb found in Cologne
File photo of a Second World War bomb: DPA

Several thousands people were being evacuated from a district of Cologne just north of the old town on Thursday morning, after a Second World War bomb was found in a parking lot.

Kidnapped German journalist and her baby freed in Syria
File photo of a Syrian soldier: SANA/DPA.

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria last year while she was pregnant has been freed along with her baby, the German Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Air Berlin to cut 1,200 jobs and halve airline fleet
Photo: DPA.

Struggling Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, announced on Wednesday a major restructuring plan that shrinks its fleet and cuts 1,200 jobs.

Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Photo: Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons.

From stunning chalk-white cliffs to fairy tale castles, Germany has some breathtaking sights to see, perfect for social media.

Train evacuated as passenger flips out during ticket check
Police at the scene in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

A regional train was evacuated in Leipzig on Wednesday after a passenger became aggressive during a ticket inspection.

Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,545
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd