Wealth tax: Germany

Ruben Rehr

Wealth and Policy, Working Paper 131

30 Oct 2020

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This paper analyses the workings of the German wealth tax that applied until 1996 and reviews the reasons why the wealth tax was judged unconstitutional by the German Federal Constitutional Court. In order to scrutinise the Court’s ruling, it is necessary to explore the role of wealth taxation in Germany: its history, design, and especially its justifications. I conclude that although the wealth tax was judged unconstitutional in 1995 a wealth tax can be justified in the German taxation system. Nonetheless I argue that the tax is likely to remain undesirable due to its manifold negative side effects.

DOI: 10.47445/131
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