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From Maastricht to Brexit by Richard Bellamy and Dario Castiglione

How Labour Ended up Taxing Itself and Why it Matters: The Long-term Evolution of the Politics in German Labour Taxation

Presenter
Achim Kemmerling
Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Universität Erfurt
Authors
Achim Kemmerling
Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Universität Erfurt

Abstract
This article shows why the political left has increasingly expanded taxation to its own clientele and how this affects the politics of taxation. The paper compares the second half of the 19th with the second half of the 20th century of German tax history. Using a simple framework of tax incidence, it argues that the emergence of a mature welfare state and the significance of real wages as a tax base have changed the underlying parameters of tax politics. The fact that most taxation has become an increasing and regressive burden on labour provokes a serious shift in the centre of political debates from taxing different forms of capital to taxing different forms of labour. A qualitative analysis of debates in the German Reichstag and the Bundestag shows the seriousness of conflicts about tax policy among representatives of labour as a political class.
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