Fair Taxation and FamiliesFair Taxation and Families

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Christian Political Foundation for Europe
Fair Taxation and Families

A comparative study with a view to a more equitable income tax

As governments develop and expand their activities, their reliance on financial resources keeps pace.
Government allowances, social security and supplementary provisions proliferate and the complexity
of arrangements for residents of EU Member States, and their interrelationships become increasingly
obscure. This is equally true of income tax, creating scenarios in which remaining single or getting a
divorce could be fiscally advantageous.

In a number of countries, unmarried couples who are living together are paying less tax compared
to their married counterparts on a comparable income, and married couples with both spouses in
paid employment are often paying less tax than a family with a single wage-earner. The traditional
breadwinner model gets a raw deal. The fiscal effects of similar joint incomes can vary immensely,
raising the question of how can individuals and families be included in an income tax system which is
levied as equitably and justly as possible?

In this commentary, we will be searching for approaches to solving these apparent contradictions
and, in doing so, we will examine the situation in several member states of the European Union (EU)
in greater depth. Our approach will be confined to the fiscal treatment of individuals and families:
in some countries fiscal facilities may be available to families with children, for example, instead of
(free) healthcare for children or parental leave arrangements, or vice versa.


The first chapter describes the various income tax systems that are theoretically possible, the tax
brackets and the income tax based on an individual income or family income. The final part discusses
how income tax treats children.

The second chapter addresses the basic norms and the Christian principles which the government
should embrace when it levies tax. The shift towards adopting an instrumental approach in tax law
damages the underlying basic principles whose purpose is to share the burdens fairly.

The third chapter provides an outline of the situation in the Netherlands, and is followed by chapters
describing the situation in Germany, England, France and Sweden. How do these countries approach
the taxation of families and individuals and what kind of fiscal facilities are there for children? The
final part compares the countries in an attempt to gain greater insight into their differences.

The conclusion contains recommendations about income tax policies which could improve the way
families and individuals are treated for tax purposes.


The second chapter was written by Jan A. Schippers, MSc; the other chapters were contributed
by Léon van Kruiningen, MSc LLB. Wim Oppelaar, MA, from bureau ‘De Tekstwerker’ produced
the summary of the study. This publication was written at the request of the ECPF with a view to
stimulating discussion among involved Christians throughout Europe. The publication can be ordered
as hard-copy or pdf file by emailing to secretariat@ecpf.info