Thursday, August 19, 2010

'No Reason to Discriminate Against Gay Partnerships'

Germany's highest court has ruled that gay couples in civil partnerships are entitled to the same inheritance tax rights as married couples. Most of the German press welcomes the ruling, with many editorials arguing that the next step is full income tax equality.

Germany is gradually working toward giving gay couples equal rights in many areas. On Tuesday, it took a further step, when its top court ruled that same-sex couples in civil partnerships are entitled to the same inheritance tax rights as married couples.

The Constitutional Court, based in the western German city of Karlsruhe, found that inheritance tax law between 2001 and 2008 had disadvantaged registered homosexual partnerships. Germany introduced a form of civil partnership for same-sex couples in 2001, yet when a partner passed away, the surviving partner had to pay much higher tax on anything they might inherit.

New legislation in December 2008 helped remedy this situation and the government has prepared draft legislation that would bring about full equality on inheritance taxes. The court ruled on Tuesday that the German parliament had until Dec. 31 to produce legislation that rectified the disadvantage to gay and lesbian partners for the years 2001 to 2008.

The judges were responding to appeals lodged by a man and woman whose respective partners had died. In one case, the beneficiary had inherited €140,000 ($185,000) from his partner and had to pay €30,000 in taxes. In another, a woman had to pay €12,000 in taxes on an inheritance of €58,000 from her deceased partner.

To read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,712473,00.html

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