Debt crisis: What about taxing the rich?

26 July 2012 – Presseurop Handelsblatt
Handelsblatt, 26 July 2012

“Can the rich save Europe?” wonders Handelsblatt. The Düsseldorf daily reports that in the European Union “the race is on to come up with more creative ideas for the taxation of the rich and the super rich” —

French President François Hollande wants to impose a 75% tax on revenues in excess of a million euros. Spain’s conservative leader Mariano Rajoy has raised the maximum tax rate from 45% to 52% on annual revenues of more than 175,000 euros. In Italy a ‘solidarity contribution’ for high earners was introduced in 2011 by the billionaire Berlusconi.

And now Germany, where a number of public figures, most notably the boss of the DGB trade union confederation, Michael Sommer, are suggesting that citizens who earn more than 250,000 euros should be obliged to purchase government bonds to fill up the state coffers.

Unimpressed by the projected influx of an additional 230 billion euros that experts hope could be generated, Handelsblatt points out that whereas many people believe they would not be concerned by such a measure, it would in fact have a wide-ranging impact impact: notably on workers who own their own homes and Germany’s 4.8 million small and medium-sized business owners who would see the economic foundations of their companies undermined by the new tax. For Handelsblatt, these ideas —

… may appeal to a sense of justice [...] but they are largely symbolic. There is no European country where taxes of this kind amount to more than 4% of GNP. [...] That is not to say that the rich should not be taxed, but simply to point out that such measures will not be sufficient to resolve the debt crisis.