Ehegattensplitting und Leistungsfähigkeitsprinzip

Cay Folkers 1
  • 1 Ruhr-Universität Bochum


The German system of taxation of spouses in which husband and wife each pay income tax on half the total of their combined income is under attack by politicians and business administration experts. In this article the analytical concept of subjective ability to pay, which is familiar in public finance, is contrasted with the „objective net principle“ advanced in business administration, and an analytical concept of horizontal equity is presented which demonstrates that the approach of objective ability to pay is flawed and is inconsistent with the basic criteria of justice. From the developed principles of horizontal equity a concept of second best subjective tax base is derived and it is demonstrated that the German system of taxation of spouses is an adequate method of taking account of marriage within this concept. A particularly unjust solution would be to abolish the current system of taxation of spouses while retaining the other deductions from the tax base and the effective progression.

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