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During a recent party conference in Hanover, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party rejected an application calling for the equal tax treatment of gay civil unions.
Following a lengthy debate, CDU members instead backed a counter motion, supported by the party’s leadership, advocating “the promotion and privilege of marriage” between a man and a woman as laid down in the country’s constitution.
The party therefore voted against plans to accord the income splitting or "spousal split" (Ehegattensplitting) tax break to gay couples. The provision allows married couples to lower their tax burden by pooling and then dividing their earnings to calculate individual income tax.
Hessen’s Walter Arnold insisted that the decision was not about discriminating against same sex partnerships but about the constitutionally established protection of marriage and families. Echoing these views, CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe underscored that marriage and families should be promoted and marriage viewed as an economic union.
In contrast, Berlin’s Jan-Marco Luczak stressed that nothing would be taken away from married couples by granting the tax break to gay partnerships, highlighting the fact that 80% of individuals in Germany are in favour of the equal tax treatment of same sex couples.
It remains to be seen, however, as to how Germany’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe will view the matter. It is due to decide next year.
Back in August, the Court ruled that the land transfer tax exemption must apply in the same way for both married couples and "registered partnerships." In addition, registered partnerships must be granted the same family allowances as married civil servants, judges, and soldiers.
Marriage is not available for same-sex couples in Germany, but registered partnerships have been in place since 2001, and they normally grant the same rights as regular marriages, except for tax and adoption purposes.
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