Everyone should inherit, Carsten Schneider (SPD) thinks. The Federal Government Commissioner for East Germany suggests a so-called basic heritage. Specifically: 20,000 euros for all 18-year-olds in Germany. “It is no longer possible for a large part of the population to own property, especially in the big cities,” said Schneider about the Funke media group’s newspapers. A basic inheritance could create more equal opportunities after school. This should be financed by an inheritance tax for particularly wealthy people.
The SPD reacted cautiously to the initiative of its top politician on Thursday. A basic inheritance is currently “not an issue,” said faction circles. Equal opportunities are important to the parliamentary group, but the current coalition agreement is being adhered to.
The Greens, on the other hand, support Schneider’s proposal. “Being able to shape life after school in a self-determined way, with a start-up, a course of study, a voluntary social year or even with the often high cost of living alongside an apprenticeship,” depends too much on the parental home, according to Katharina Beck, financial policy spokeswoman for the Greens in Germany Bundestag. Beck also sees a need for a reform of the inheritance tax, “especially in the case of very large inheritances”.
However, critical tones can also be heard from the traffic light coalition. “The young generation does not want to be dependent on gifts from the state, but want to build something for themselves,” said Jens Teutrine WELT. The spokesman for citizen money of the FDP parliamentary group welcomed the action against generational inequality. “However, the solution cannot be to pour out 20,000 euros to everyone with a watering can.”
Instead of raising taxes to finance the idea, Teutrine is demanding an exemption from real estate transfer tax or an increase in the savings allowance. For fairer starting opportunities, the education system would have to be modernized and the demotivating false incentives of the welfare state would have to be abolished.
The idea of a ground rent is by no means new. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) only raised the demand last year. According to the researchers’ calculations, the project could “significantly reduce” social inequality in Germany. Financing should therefore take place via an inheritance and wealth tax in order to cover the total annual costs of 15 billion euros.
Today, millionaires are still “unusually often male, middle-aged or older, have no migration background, come from West Germany, are well educated and often self-employed,” noted DIW President Marcel Fratzscher in “Zeit” in 2020. The French economist Thomas Piketty even goes one step further and calls for all 25-year-olds to be paid 120,000 euros.
Schneider’s idea sounds “at first sight charming,” said Jan Korte from the Left Group. However, the Parliamentary Managing Director wants to use the possible 15 billion euros “more precisely against social inequality”, for example “through income-based basic child security and higher standard rates for Hartz IV and basic old-age security”.
According to Korte, however, it seemed like a “pooper prank” to return higher income from taxes for the wealthy “immediately to the families of millionaires”. “People who are born with a golden spoon in their mouth really don’t need sugar in their butt.”
The AfD, on the other hand, sees Schneider on the “wooden path”. Parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel: “Redistribution of the private property of others is not a suitable way to create lasting real prosperity.” Rather, the state must ensure that citizens “keep more of what they earn in their own pockets”. No comment could be obtained from the Union faction.
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