More tax please, we're rich Germans
A text posted on the Internet has been signed by tens of people who want to convince the government of newly re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise their taxes.Berlin -- A group of rich Germans have launched a petition to call for a wealth tax to help the country bounce back from an economic crisis, because, as one said, he had "a lot of money I do not need."
The text, posted on the Internet at www.appel-vermoegensabgabe.de, has been signed by 44 people who want to convince the government of newly re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise their taxes.
None of the names are those of Germany's richest families.
But for retired doctor Dieter Kelmkuhl, 66, it is time the wealthy came to the aid of their country.
He reckons that if the 2.2 million Germans who have personal fortunes of more than 500,000 euros (750,000 dollars) paid a tax of five percent this year and next, it would provide the state with 100 billion euros.
Kelmkuhl got the idea when Berlin stumped up billions of euros to save banks and give the recession-hit economy a boost, as the gulf between rich and poor grows wider in Europe's biggest economy.
"It made me mad to think that we suddenly found all this money for the banks, money that we did not have before for urgent programmes like education and the environment," the left of centre weekly Die Zeit quoted him as saying.
The former doctor would like Germany to have its own version of the US group United for a Fair Economy (UFA), which includes around 700 wealthy US residents, according to the left-of-centre daily Tagesspiegel.
His plan would see a five percent tax for two years to fund specific projects followed by a reduction to one percent, the level of the tax when it was abandoned in 1997. Germany still slaps a 25 percent levy on capital gains.
One signer, 69-year-old Peter Vollmer told AFP he backed the petition because he had inherited "a lot of money I do not need."
Since her September 27 election victory, Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) have been locked in talks hammering out a common programme with their new partners, the Free Democrats (FDP).
The FDP promised 35 billion euros in tax cuts in its election campaign, but with Germany's public finances shot to bits by the recession, Merkel's party is wary of agreeing to such reductions.
On Wednesday, Lehmkuhl, Vollmer and a few friends held a rally in the Tiergarten in central Berlin, throwing fake banknotes into the air for photographers in what they called a bid to provoke discussion of the idea.
"It's really strange that so few people came," Vollmer said.