Financial crisis tests German solidarity

Germany’s solidarity tax, introduced after the country’s post-Cold-War reunification, has long been a subject of heated debate. Many in eastern part of the country claim they are burdened by it, and have proposed abolishing the tax.

Some Germans are calling on the government to lift the middle-class tax, known as ‘soli,’ under which certain taxpayers are charged an additional 5.5 percent of their yearly tax bill as a solidarity tax.

Over the last 20 years, states in post-Soviet eastern Germany have received billions of euros in taxpayer money to aid development following reunification. But these days, more and more taxpayers in the former West Germany are saying enough is enough, and complain that they have been paying too much for too long.

However, the solidarity pact is set to remain in force until 2019, at which point western Germany will have contributed hundreds of billions of euros.

RT’s Peter Oliver went to Germany’s Ruhr Region, home to the country’s coal-mining industry, to find out that the main cities in the area face mounting debts, and are struggling to live up their commitments under the solidarity pact.

As major cities in the Ruhr region sink further into the red, those in western Germany insist that the eastern regions must alleviate their suffering before it is too late.

“Right now, we should be at the front of the line when it comes to financial help from the state,” several Germans told RT.