IG Metall’s move is fueling the tax debate during the 2021 election campaign. The response from parties has been mixed. IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann criticized in the Süddeutsche Zeitung the Union and the FDP mainly targeting high incomes. He demanded that small and middle incomes be better treated instead. He also wants to extend the four-day weeks in companies thanks to a tax bonus.
The co-boss of the Greens, Robert Habeck, declares that a directional decision will be taken during this election, including in terms of budgetary policy: “Let us allow the necessary socio-ecological restructuring through a policy which anticipates and supports the majority, or are we preventing it with anti-social tax cuts for a few super-rich? ” The Greens wanted to invest more to protect the climate, renovate ailing infrastructure, strengthen social housing and lower taxes for individuals or families with low and middle incomes.
Unlike the Union, the Greens have a concept of financing. It is “counter-financed by slightly higher taxes on very high incomes”. The Union, meanwhile, wants to lower taxes, especially for the ten percent and the richest companies, is sticking to the debt brake, while interest rates are close to zero and considerable investment needs. “This means in plain language: with the plans of the CDU / CSU, the investments necessary for the future cannot be made. They lead deeper into the climate crisis, not out of it.”
As an exporting nation, you have to pay attention to competitiveness, says CDU
The CDU Economic Council, on the other hand, criticizes the fact that the boss of IG Metall calls for more redistribution from top to bottom. In Germany there is such a top-to-bottom redistribution as in virtually no other country in the world, Secretary-General Wolfgang Steiger said. As the first exporting country, you have to pay attention to competitiveness. “We’re already in the first group with our tax rates for businesses and citizens around the world. Anyone who wants to add a little more here risks migrating businesses.” Steiger contradicts Hofmann’s accusation that, according to the calculations of the ZEW Institute, the Union wants to reduce tax revenues by relieving high incomes. “There is certainly enough money available for future key investments.”
SPD party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans says the SPD wants to reduce income tax to 95% of the population. “Low and middle income earners have benefited the least from past tax reforms and need significant relief.” The ideas of the unions went in the same direction. The SPD’s plans also boosted the economy. The upper middle class has also gained more net on the gross. “All of this can only be funded if the richest five percent of incomes and the richest one percent of the rich make a reasonably larger contribution.”
Susanne Hennig-Wellsow: “Yes, this country must become more socially just”
Left party leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow thinks it is good for unions to get involved. “Yes, this country needs to become more socially just, invest more in a sustainable future,” said the 43-year-old. “Jörg Hofmann asked the crucial question on which the electoral campaign should be: What kind of country do we really want to live in?
FDP Secretary General Volker Wissing does not respond directly to Hofmann’s criticism of his party. IG Metall’s statements have shown that they, like Free Democrats, believe that employee tax relief is necessary. “Now is the time for the first CDU candidate, Armin Laschet, to make a clear commitment to tax cuts,” Wissing said. The FDP wanted to make the ascent easy. “We are not concerned with redistribution, we are concerned with tax breaks, especially for low and middle incomes.” IG Metall President Hofmann wants to improve small and medium incomes up to 5,000, 6,000 euros in gross monthly salary – from 400 to 700 euros. Unlike the FDP and the CDU / CSU, it wants to increase the maximum rate for high incomes.
The Obermetaller combines his lead with the 2021 collective bargaining round, where he campaigned for shorter working hours for the four million workers in transformation. Companies can now organize a four-day week with employee representatives. Hofmann wants partial wage compensation for shorter work to be tax exempt. It does not meet the approval of employers: “We reject it strictly, as politicians have already rejected for good reasons,” says Peer-Michael Dick, Managing Director of Südwestmetall. “We are facing the biggest challenges that require adjustments. We cannot continue as before.” Luitwin Mallmann also rejects preferential tax treatment for employees benefiting from a four-day week “for reasons of fair taxation”. “Those who work less should not be in a better tax situation than most employees,” said the managing director of Metall NRW.