DThe Greens have defended their federal family minister, Lisa Paus, whose proposal to abolish parental allowance for high-income families has met with criticism. On Monday, however, Green Party leader Ricarda Lang was open to SPD leader Lars Klingbeil’s suggestion that the so-called spouse splitting be phased out instead.
Although she herself questions whether it makes sense at all to cut money for families, said the co-chair, there was a “clear announcement from the Ministry of Finance” that “savings should be made at this point”. In this situation, Paus then chose “the most socially acceptable path”. Even if only about five percent of parents were affected, it is clear that the proposal to save on parental allowance from an equality policy point of view is still not a measure “that we would have proposed on our own”.
As far as Klingbeil’s specific proposal is concerned, the Greens are “ready to talk to us,” said Lang. What will not work, however, are savings in the programs to promote democracy, which are also located in the Ministry for Family Affairs – at a time when the AfD is at 20 percent in the voter polls.
Klingbeil speaks of an antiquated tax model
In an interview, Klingbeil had proposed the abolition of spouse splitting for new marriages instead of saving on parental allowance. In his view, it would be good to put an end to this antiquated tax model, which favors the traditional distribution of roles between men and women. “And the state would save money,” he told the editorial network Germany. “I am in favor of higher income shouldering more and more responsibility,” said the SPD chairman. “But questions about distribution are clarified through tax policy, not through parental allowance.”
With spouse splitting, the joint income of a couple is halved, the income tax due is calculated and the tax liability is then doubled. This is particularly useful for couples where one earns a lot and the other a little.
So far, parental allowance has been given to couples whose joint taxable income is less than 300,000 euros. As part of the budget planning for the coming year and the spending cuts to limit debts pushed by Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), the traffic light coalition is planning to lower this limit to 150,000 euros.
According to Klingbeil, the outcry about the planned cuts in parental allowance is less due to the fact that couples with a gross annual income of 180,000 to 190,000 euros should no longer receive it. “Parental allowance is not a social benefit, it is intended to motivate men to take on more responsibility in the family.” Without parental allowance, women will probably stay at home again because men often get more money. “This is a step backwards for equality,” said Klingbeil.
At the same time, he called for the “impact of this public debate” to be used to modernize parental allowance: “At the moment, most men take two months parental leave, if at all, because that is the minimum limit from which it is financially worthwhile .” It would be better if fathers also looked after the child for several months.