In the days when the CDU/CSU is fine-tuning its election program, business representatives are closely following every sentence uttered by the party leaders. Most recently, for example, they were relieved to register that Armin Laschet seems determined to end the stalemate on tax policy. "During the crisis, we did a lot to secure the liquidity of companies. It is absurd to withdraw liquidity by raising taxes after the crisis," the CDU chairman said at the German Family Business Day. The CDU/CSU's candidate for chancellor spoke on Friday about capping corporate taxes at 25 percent, expanding loss offsets and improving depreciation conditions.
Laschet thus gave an early indication of where the journey will lead. The CDU and CSU are obviously pulling in the same direction when it comes to drawing up the election program - at least when it comes to easing the burden on companies: CSU leader Markus Söder also mentioned the 25 percent at the same event. In addition, both rejected a higher income tax. The wealth tax would also not be revived with them. In the auditorium, such statements went down well. "Germany has fallen far behind in tax competition," Rainer Kirchdörfer, chairman of the Family Business and Politics Foundation, told the F.A.Z. "It's encouraging that the CDU/CSU candidate for chancellor sees the need for reform and wants to tackle things."
Next Monday, the CDU and CSU plan to present their joint election program. In addition to the announcements of the chairmen, a variety of draft papers are now circulating - although it is not entirely clear which of the points will ultimately be included in the official program version.Some text modules come across as clear announcements, at least in tone. For example, on the subject of income tax: "We will gradually abolish the solidarity surcharge for everyone as quickly as possible." However, the CDU/CSU had already planned to abolish the solidarity surcharge before the 2017 election. However, it was not able to prevail against the SPD.Other points on the subject of tax policy concern the employee lump sum, which according to one of the papers is to rise to 1250 euros a year. A reform of the income tax rate is also being planned. This is to be "stretched", it says. For this purpose, the amount at which the marginal tax rate of 42 percent becomes due is to increase noticeably." This would prevent even skilled workers with slightly above-average earnings from being burdened by a high tax rate.
In addition, the papers include - as they did four years ago - a promise to supplement the marital splitting system with a "family real splitting" system. "It raises the child allowance to the adult level," it says in explanation - and with a cautionary note in square brackets: "financially effective." This note is appended to very many items in the preliminary papers. This is true, for example, of the plans to extend the child allowance for construction and to introduce new tax-free amounts for real estate transfer tax (250,000 per adult plus 100,000 euros per child).At the same time, the CDU plans a commitment to the debt brake. "It is our goal to increase the room for maneuver for our children and grandchildren instead of saddling them with debt and thus burdens." It not only opposes basic law amendments that would make it easier to take on debt. The CDU also wants to return to balanced budgets "as quickly as possible."It is unclear how this can be achieved without, in return, causing social contributions to shoot up far beyond 40 percent of gross wages. After all, the major social security funds - pension, health and long-term care insurance - are already heading for sharply rising contribution rates and deficits. At the same time, the CDU/CSU's social policy experts want to further expand social benefits, while savings proposals are rare. Laschet himself has indicated that he does not want to talk about a higher retirement age during the election campaign.
In the drafts, there are statements about pensions that are veiled in clauses: in the future, an "old-age security advisory board" is to set so-called "demarcation lines" for the contribution rate and the pace of pension increases. This was the recommendation of a commission commissioned by the government in 2020. According to its report, however, the new advisory council is also to submit a proposal on the further development of the age limit in 2026. However, precisely this aspect is not mentioned in the text modules on the Union's planned social policy. On the other hand, Laschet over the weekend openly opposed CSU demands to expand the maternity pension once again. It had already been expanded in 2014 and 2018 - at a total cost of around 10 billion euros a year.
According to the drafts, the CDU/CSU wants to reconcile economy and ecology. Climate protection should not overburden consumers and businesses. In contrast to the Greens, the CDU/CSU is backing "incentives instead of bans. The CDU/CSU is committed to achieving CO-2 neutrality by 2045, and the national emissions trading system must be integrated into the European system and extended to transport and buildings. In the long term, there must be global trading. The CO-2 levy is to be used to abolish the EEG surcharge and reduce the electricity tax.To prevent production from migrating, there should be a CO-2 border adjustment in Europe. It is also important to exploit the possibilities of CO-2 storage. Investments in climate protection and energy efficiency should be made easier and more strongly promoted. The Union wants to expand eco-energy more quickly, for example by designating priority areas along roads. In addition to e-cars, synthetic fuels are also being considered for heavy-duty transport. In the future, charging stations are to be installed in all new commercial and public buildings. For long-distance traffic, fast chargers would have to be accessible within ten minutes.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema