Merkel rivals would hike tax on rich

AFP-JIJI

Germany’s main opposition party launched its manifesto to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel in September elections on Monday, vowing greater social justice with a higher top rate of tax and a minimum wage.

The center-left Social Democratic Party said it wanted to create a “new social balance” in Europe’s biggest economy, judging that the gap between rich and poor was growing and that financial markets needed greater regulation.

SPD candidate for chancellor Peer Steinbrueck told a news conference that his party would introduce a “legal, flat-rate minimum wage of at least €8.50 ($11)” if elected in federal elections on Sept. 22.

The party also vowed to raise the top rate of income tax in Germany to 49 percent for people earning more than €100,000 annually or married couples earning more than €200,000 between them.

Currently, a 42 percent income tax applies to people earning more than €52,882. There is also a tax on high-income earners affecting those who take home more than €250,000, who pay a rate of 45 percent.