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Tax Reforms and "Modell Deutschland": Lessons from Four Years of Red-Green Tax-Policy


  • Truger, Achim
  • Jacoby, Wade


When the red-green (SPD-Bündnis90/DieGrünen) coalition took over the federal government from the Christian-Democrat/Free-Democrat (CDU/CSU/FDP) coalition in 1998, tax reforms had a very high political priority. And, in fact, the government pushed through an astonishing number of far-reaching tax reforms/tax changes within a period of little more than two years. This paper follows two aims. First, it gives a short description of the measures taken and evaluates them with respect to tax theory and the German tax reform debate of the 1990s. Second, it explicitly addresses the question whether the tax changes were influenced by the wish to reform the Modell Deutschland, i.e. whether something substantial was done to change Germany´s status as a perceived high tax country and if so, whether the attempt was successful. It will be shown that even though the problem of high taxes might have been many observers´ and, indeed, also the government´s dominant concern, there was much more to the German debate. The chapter will also ask whether generously cutting taxes was the right thing to do. It demonstrates that under Germany´s peculiar economic and institutional circumstances at the end of the 1990s, the attempt to cut taxes led to serious problems for fiscal policy, growth, and employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Truger, Achim & Jacoby, Wade, 2002. "Tax Reforms and "Modell Deutschland": Lessons from Four Years of Red-Green Tax-Policy," Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series qt31866224, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:bineur:qt31866224

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stefan Bach & Dieter Vesper, 2000. "Finanzpolitik und Wiedervereinigung: Bilanz nach 10 Jahren," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 69(2), pages 194-224.
    2. Stefan Bach & Dieter Vesper, 2002. "Finanz- und Investitionskrise der Gemeinden erzwingt grundlegende Reform der Kommunalfinanzen," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 69(31), pages 505-517.
    3. Hefeker, Carsten, 2001. "The agony of central power: Fiscal federalism in the German Reich," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 119-142, April.
    4. Bernhard Seidel & Dieter Teichmann & Sabine Thiede, 1999. "Ehegattensplitting nicht mehr zeitgemäß," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 66(40), pages 713-724.
    5. Gerhard Wagenhals, 2000. "Incentive and Redistribution Effects of the German Tax Reform 2000," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 57(3), pages 316-316, May.
    6. Dieter Vesper, 2001. "Zum infrastrukturellen Nachholbedarf in Ostdeutschland," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 68(20), pages 293-298.
    7. Truger, Achim & Hein, Eckhard, 2002. "Schlusslicht Deutschland': makroökonomische Ursachen," Wirtschaftsdienst – Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik (1949 - 2007), ZBW – German National Library of Economics / Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 82(7), pages 402-410.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2011. "Fiscal Policy in the Macroeconomic Policy Mix: A Critique of the New Consensus Model and a Comparison of Macroeconomic Policies in France, Germany, the UK and Sweden from a Post-Keynesian Perspective," Chapters,in: Credit, Money and Macroeconomic Policy, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Achim Truger & Henner Will, 2013. "The German “debt brake”: a shining example for European fiscal policy?," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(1), pages 153-188.
    3. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2006. "Germany's post-2000 stagnation in the European context - a lesson in macroeconomic mismanagement," IMK Working Paper 03-2006, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.


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