Stefanie Bremer is a company heiress and millionaire. She was able to inherit her assets almost tax-free. Bremer, who appears publicly under a pseudonym, finds this unfair: “While many people no longer have a chance to build up their own wealth through work, our current tax system offers people like me various loopholes and tax exemptions,” she says. This leads to the fact that in Germany ten percent of the people own 65 percent of the wealth. “This concentration of assets in no way serves the common good. This creates not a single job, no school and no road built,” says Bremer. She founded the “taxmenow” initiative with 46 like-minded millionaires. Together with the tax justice network and the citizens’ movement Finanzwende, she is now calling for tax privileges for the wealthy to be overturned.
80 billion euros – that is how much the relief and loopholes for the wealthiest cost the state per year, says Christoph Trautvetter, academic advisor at the Tax Justice Network, which advocates a fiscal policy geared to the common good: “And that is still a conservative estimate!” The state lost nine and a half billion euros annually due to the property tax alone, and another 17 billion euros due to the lack of a financial transaction tax. In addition, there would be almost incalculable damage from tax avoidance and evasion.
30 years of lobbying success
“The big money lobby has been eroding our tax system for 30 years,” says Gerhard Schick, chairman of the citizens’ movement Finanzwende and once a financial expert for the Greens in the Bundestag. This would be most evident in the case of inheritance tax: “The exemption regulations for company assets and company heirs have even been classified as unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court. But the policy has not changed them to this day.” In particular, the Family Business Foundation would have vehemently lobbied for the exceptions, says Schick. Consistent taxation would bring the state at least six billion euros annually.
“We therefore demand: The inheritance tax must be in the next coalition agreement,” says Schick. That is independent of which parties form the next government: “All political constellations of the past 30 years have pushed through tax breaks under pressure from the lobby of the wealthy.” The alliance of the three initiatives is therefore relying on public pressure. Actions and a petition are intended to raise awareness of the privileges of the rich until the parties can no longer avoid reform.
“We all benefit from the services of the state. A company is nothing without a good education system and a functioning infrastructure,” says the company heiress Bremer. In the long term, the alliance would therefore like to see all tax privileges abolished.