German finance minister backs plans for wealth tax: Handelsblatt

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is backing plans for a wealth tax his Social Democrats (SPD) plan to introduce, the online edition of business daily Handelsblatt reported on Sunday.

Leading members of the SPD, junior partners in the ruling coalition, will meet on Monday to discuss plans to reintroduce the tax, which have developed in a working group led by Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel, who heads the SPD in Hesse state.

The plans forecast revenues nationwide of up to 10 billion euros ($11.14 billion).

“I have closely worked with the SPD working group and I’m supporting the result to follow the Swiss model,” Scholz, running for leadership of the SPD, was quoted as saying.

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Switzerland is one of a small number of developed economies that still impose a wealth tax, which is charged on cash, securities, real estate, and art.

Andreas Jung, vice chair of the conservative benches in parliament, said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was opposed to the move, Handelsblatt reported.

Scholz’s comments come shortly after the government agreed to exempt most taxpayers from the solidarity tax that was introduced after the county’s reunification.

Merkel’s government has incurred no new debt since 2014 thanks to an unusually long growth cycle, record-high employment, robust tax revenues and low interest rates.

A senior government official told Reuters earlier this month that is considering ditching its long-cherished balanced budget policy to help finance a costly climate protection program with new debt.

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