August 24, 2019 / 7:37 PM / 2 months ago

German finance minister backs plans for wealth tax - Handelsblatt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is backing plans for a wealth tax that his Social Democrats (SPD) want to introduce, the online edition of business daily Handelsblatt reported.

FILE PHOTO: German Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attends the "Open Door Day" of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Berlin, Germany, August 17, 2019. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

Leading members of the SPD, junior partners in the ruling coalition, will meet on Monday to discuss plans to reintroduce the tax, which have developed in a working group led by Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel, who heads the SPD in Hesse state.

The plans forecast revenues nationwide of up to 10 billion euros ($11.14 billion).

“I have closely worked with the SPD working group and I’m supporting the result to follow the Swiss model,” Scholz, running for leadership of the SPD, was quoted as saying.

Switzerland is one of a small number of developed economies that still impose a wealth tax, which is charged on cash, securities, real estate, cars and art.

Members of the SPD’s senior coalition partner the CDU/CSU slammed the plans, with CSU head Markus Soeder saying such a step neither made sense nor stood a chance of succeeding.

“In a cooling economy this leads to a massive burden on medium-sized businesses and jobs. It’s exactly the wrong signal,” he told local news agency dpa on Sunday.

Andreas Jung, vice chair of the conservative benches in parliament, said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was opposed to the move, Handelsblatt reported.

Scholz’s comments come shortly after the government agreed to exempt most taxpayers from the solidarity tax that was introduced after the county’s reunification.

Merkel’s government has incurred no new debt since 2014 thanks to an unusually long growth cycle, record-high employment, robust tax revenues and low interest rates.

A senior government official told Reuters earlier this month that Germany is considering ditching its long-cherished balanced budget policy to help finance a costly climate protection programme with new debt.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Ros Russell and Toby Chopra

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