What is an argument for high taxes

Pros & Cons: Can German medium-sized companies cope with higher taxes?

The SPD is campaigning for a higher income tax and the new version of the wealth tax. In the opinion of SPD parliamentary group vice-president Joachim Poss, medium-sized businesses can cope with the additional burdens. BDI General Manager Markus Kerber has a completely different opinion - a pro and contra to tax policy.

The SPD, headed by Chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück, is campaigning for an increase in income taxes in the federal election campaign.

Photo: dpa

Pro: Even if Germany came through the global economic crisis better than most other countries, our country is still facing major challenges. Globalization is diminishing the influence of state action, the not yet overcome financial market crisis is at the same time an acid test for democratically legitimized politics and a challenge for public finances. The debt brake anchored in the constitution also forces consolidation at all levels of government.

Despite relatively good economic growth and falling unemployment, more and more people are decoupled from the wealth they have earned. Also because the consolidation of finances at Schwarz-Gelb was mainly implemented with one grip on the social coffers. In addition, more than a fifth of employees now work in the low-wage sector. On the other hand, there are serious disproportionate increases in salaries for top earners. Growing inequality becomes even clearer when looking at wealth distribution. The social division has increased dramatically in Germany.

Against this background, the SPD has presented a concept that counteracts these developments and does justice to the state's mandate. The aim is to secure and strengthen the state's ability to act in order to be able to invest in future tasks. Solid public finances are the basis for financing important future tasks, such as education, infrastructure and municipalities.

Education is the key to work and an opportunity for advancement. We must ensure that for all young people, regardless of their social background, these opportunities for advancement do not remain an empty promise. Medium-sized companies in particular are dependent on well-trained young people in the region.

In an international comparison, Germany only ranks in the middle for education. In the long run, this will have a negative impact, especially on medium-sized companies that live to a large extent from innovation and creativity and often do not have huge recruiting departments like large corporations.

We want to realize remaining expenditures for the infrastructure and the energy transition. They are unavoidable and necessary investments in Germany as a business location.

In addition, the financial situation of many cities and municipalities is precarious, they are underfunded by € 8 billion to € 9 billion annually. Challenges from, among others, demographic change and integration are offset by drastic savings, so that the scope for action is now severely limited in some cities and municipalities.

With the claim to make these necessary investments in the future while at the same time consolidating the budget, the SPD has admittedly set itself ambitious goals and society as a whole needs efforts to achieve them.

In addition to saving completely pointless expenses such as childcare allowance, tax subsidies need to be questioned.

In addition, the subsidization of low wages must finally end. We also want to take more decisive action against tax fraud. To this end, the SPD has drawn up a comprehensive package of measures.

Nevertheless, it is essential to implement targeted tax increases on a moderate scale. The focus is on raising the top income tax rate to 49% and reintroducing the wealth tax.

The top tax rate should only apply from a taxable income of € 100,000 for unmarried people / € 200,000 for married people and thus aims at a higher participation of very high incomes in the financing of the community.

We also do not want the wealth tax as an end in itself and not out of envy. It serves to enforce the constitutional mandate for taxation based on economic capacity.

In an international comparison, wealth in Germany contributes relatively little to the financing of the community and we want to change that. The point is not to diminish wealth, but rather to slow the growth of large wealth through a low tax rate. Therefore, considerable allowances are provided, so that only a small group of people would be subject to tax at all.

It is also clear to us that special protective measures for business assets must be anchored in the structuring of the tax. Particularly with a view to medium-sized companies, the burdens should be kept within limits.

At this point I would like to point out that up to 1996 a tax on wealth was levied for almost 50 years. We will take suitable measures to ensure that there are constitutionally-compliant solutions when it comes to structuring the tax. The income from the wealth tax would flow into the budgets of the federal states, which could use it to finance investments in education, municipalities and infrastructure and, in turn, comply with the debt brake. The SPD's tax plans are part of a comprehensive concept with the aim of making Germany economically, socially and ecologically sustainable. JOACHIM POSS

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