Merkel warned over gay tax concession plan
German conservatives have warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that she will alienate core voters if her ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) makes pre-election tax concessions to gay couples.
The warning follows signs that the CDU leaders are poised to do just that in an attempt to broaden the party’s appeal ahead of September’s general election.
It follows last week’s ruling by Germany’s constitutional court in Karlsruhe, extending to gay couples in registered partnerships some adoption rights previously restricted to married couples.
With another court ruling on tax affairs looming, senior party figures have indicated they are unwilling to play catch-up with Karlsruhe a second time.
CDU Bundestag floor leader Volker Kauder said the party was ready to “look into whether changes to tax law are . . . necessary”.
At issue is whether to liberalise Germany’s so-called “spouse split” rule, which allows married couples to pay income taxes on half of their pooled incomes. This can result in often considerable tax savings for the higher-earning partner.
At last December’s party conference, the CDU’s reformist wing tabled a motion calling on these privileges to be extended to gay couples in registered partnerships. It was not credible, they argued, for married couples without children to enjoy tax privileges intended as financial assistance to couples with young children.
But CDU delegates rejected their proposal and stuck by the status quo. Now, just two months on, senior party figures appear poised for an about-face, unsettling CDU value conservatives.
In the last seven years, they have watched the CDU leader abolish compulsory military service and push through a phase-out of nuclear energy.
However, for CDU conservatives, tax rights for gay couples may be one U-turn too far.