CDU rejects extending marriage tax breaks to gay couples


Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has rejected a call to extend tax breaks for married couples to gay couples in registered partnerships.

Some 13 MPs called on party delegates in Hanover to liberalise the “spouse split” rule – allowing married couples to cut their taxes by pooling, then halving their incomes for tax purposes.

Opponents, including CDU leader Angela Merkel, backed a motion calling for a retention of the status quo which they argued reflects the privileged status of marriage and family in the German constitution. Watering down this policy would, they argued, antagonise conservative voters already unhappy with the party’s shift to the centre.

“God created us as man and woman and I think he did that for a reason,” said Steffen Flath, a CDU MP from Saxony who opposed the proposal.

But critics complained that tax privileges designed as financial assistance for young families were open to married couples without children. Several senior CDU figures have called for the party to consider a revised model that bases family tax privileges on children, not adults.

Next year the federal constitutional court will rule on a complaint against the existing tax split rule. Based on recent rulings, striking out several privileges for heterosexual couples, observers expect the rule to be opened to gay couples.

Berlin MP Jan-Marco Luczak, an initiator of the proposal, warned his party against “running, eyes-open, into a legal disaster” and said committed gay couples represented fundamental conservative values.