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How did it come about, what does it mean, how much does it cost

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There are no night sessions, nothing useful comes out. Do it differently than Angela Merkel. The traffic light coalition managed to implement the creed in around 100 days. But now the leaders of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP met for almost eleven hours on the aid package, from 9pm on Wednesday to 8am on Thursday morning. The result was a package of measures that surprised citizens who complain about high prices as a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

Of the 18 participants in the coalition committee, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was the only one who remained calm, it was said later. They all fell asleep. Scholz started directly from the round of the special meeting of NATO, the G7 and the EU in Brussels. But because it had all taken so long, he missed the usual “family photo” at the summit.

The most important decisions at a glance:

  • it will be once Energy price flat rate of 300 euros paid as salary supplement.
  • the Energy tax on fuels is limited to the European minimum for three months gone down.
  • at local public transport should be for 90 days a ticket for 9 euros/month give.
  • families get for each child In addition to the child allowance, a single bonus of 100 euros. The money is paid through the family coffers.
  • who receives social benefitsreceive what has already been decided Single payment of 100 euros another 100 euros. furthermore, the Subsidy for heating expenses at 270 euros.
  • With a modification of the Building Energy Law, for example, in new buildings As of January 1, 2023, the efficiency standard 55 will be binding be determined.
  • Owners should be obligated Replacement of 20 year heaters.
  • As of January 1, 2024, each Newly installed heating with 65 percent renewable energy function.

The flat rate of the price of energy of 300 euros, does everyone understand it?

No. For all employees who are subject to income tax (tax brackets 1 to 5), the flat-rate energy price is paid as a one-time salary supplement. It is clear that the employee subsidy must be processed through the payroll, and that it must be “fast and unbureaucratic”, as the resolution document says. The self-employed should also be supported, with them the advance payment of the tax will be reduced by 300 euros at once. Nothing is planned for pensioners so far, the question is open. In coalition circles, however, it is argued with the richest that the approximately 21 million pensioners have just received. Pensions will increase on July 1 by 5.35 percent in western Germany and by 6.12 percent in eastern Germany. The single payment is also not intended for pupils and students.

Is it 300 euros gross or net?

The surcharge is granted “on top” regardless of the applicable tax regulations (travel allowance, mobility bonus, tax-free employer refunds, work ticket), but you have to pay taxes – the 300 euros are a gross sum, the net amount is not so high will reach the recipients. It is not subject to the additional social security obligation. The relief will be greater for the low-income than for the high-income. Anyone with more than €58,600 in taxable income per year pays the top tax rate of 42 percent on additional income. Critics speak of a “deceptive package”. The head of the Taxpayers’ Association, Reiner Holznagel, told “Bild”: “This means that less than 300 euros of energy flat rate arrives and unnecessary bureaucracy is generated. The 300 euros should be tax-free.”

Christian Lindner wanted a discount on the tank. He comes?

No. Nearly two weeks ago, Finance Minister and FDP leader Lindner rejected the Union’s proposed energy tax cut and, after it became clear that there would be a supplementary budget of at least €30 billion for the costs of the Ukrainian war, he proposed an alternative idea Tank discounts move forward. Lindner wanted a flat rate of up to 40 cents per litre, estimated at 6.6 billion euros in three months. Since he publicized the project, which was not coordinated with everyone, through the newspaper “Bild”, the resistance was particularly strong among the Greens. Especially since frequent drivers and those who earn more money would have benefited. The Greens didn’t want any discounts on fuel.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen]

That night, the idea came up to drastically reduce the cost of local public transportation for three months. In return, the FDP was able to push something for all drivers. Now the energy tax on fuels will be reduced to the European minimum for a limited period of three months. That’s 30 cents a liter for gasoline and 14 cents for diesel, Lindner calculated. So a tax instead of a discount on the tank that would have been billed to gas stations. It is not yet clear when the tax cut will take effect. The FDP claimed that a general speed limit desired by the Greens to save fuel will not come.

What is controversial about the tax cut?

Recently, the price of diesel in particular has increased considerably and is now higher than that of gasoline. So now there is much less relief here as the energy tax on diesel is not that high. After the explosion in fuel prices, the Federal Cartel Office is also taking a closer look at prices at gas stations, because it is not clear that the tax refund will be passed on one by one. Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) spoke of “war profits” and a problematic position of power for the large gas station chains. The government now intends to examine all possibilities of using antitrust and competition law measures to ensure that markets work and that falling commodity prices are passed on to end consumers more quickly than before.

Public transport for nine euros, how did that come about?

Probably the biggest surprise of the aid package: monthly tickets for local public transport will be available for nine euros a month for a period of three months. “We are making bus and train travel cheaper than ever in Germany,” Green Party leader Ricarda Lang said. It is a measure that goes to the Greens, but as a substitute for a speed limit. And even with the nine euro note, which won’t be available for a few months at the earliest, there are still plenty of unanswered questions. In Berlin, for example, there are monthly tickets for areas A, B and C. The routes for which the nine-euro ticket is ultimately valid must first be negotiated with the respective transport companies and then also technically developed.

and when it arrives?

This will take a while. According to negotiating circles, the ticket could be introduced in the summer, but in the middle of the Christmas season it would only have a limited effect. It’s also unclear how to deal with people who already have monthly tickets. To avoid waves of terminations, the stoplight coalition apparently wants to compensate annual ticket holders with coupons. The measure will be financed by the federal states, which will receive more funds from the federal government. Apparently, the background to the measure is also that many citizens are avoiding buses and trains due to the corona pandemic: With the cheap offer, some could recover and be encouraged to do without the car.

CDU budget politician Christian Haase sees this point critically. “The proposals for the nine euro note are completely wrong,” he said. “Public transport has been particularly affected by rising energy prices for a long time, but turning off the tap on revenue and counteracting the existing fare system is not helpful and involves high additional costs.” And he asks, “Can vending machines be changed at short notice and do existing customers get refunds?”

What is planned for low-income families and individuals?

In addition to the child benefit, families must receive a one-time bonus of EUR 100 from the family benefit office for each child. In the case of higher income, the bonus is offset by the child allowance. Given the greater dynamics of prices, the already agreed single payment of 100 euros for recipients of social benefits will also be increased by 100 euros per person. “With current energy prices, it can be assumed that by January 1, 2023, the standard requirements will reflect the high price increases and will therefore be increased appropriately,” the resolution document says. As has already been decided, the heating subsidy rises to 270 euros.

How should energy be saved?

In addition to the policy of the shower with regard to relief, the traffic light wants to advance in terms of energy savings. Especially in the construction sector, which causes almost a fifth of all emissions in Germany with 120 million tons of CO2 per year. “We have to start off the gas now,” says Lang, Green’s boss. As of January 2024, at least 65 percent of each newly installed heating system must be heated by renewable energy. Therefore, gas heaters are ruled out de facto.

Until now, the Ministry of Economy only planned to stop installing gas heaters in new buildings, now also by replacing them, which the semaphore wants to financially support. Whoever changes a gas stove for a heat pump should be entitled to a subsidy. In addition, construction should become more climate-friendly in general, with Efficiency House 55 set to be the new standard from 2023. “It all sounds very, very technical, but it’s nothing less than saying goodbye to heat based into fossils,” says Lang. In addition, homeowners must replace heating systems that are more than 20 years old and receive funding for a “gas boiler replacement program” through the federal program for efficient buildings.

How much will all this cost?

Due to Putin’s war, the coalition sees no alternative but to continue spending billions, and it could not be the last in this context. The sharp increase in the costs of electricity, food, heating and mobility have been become a major burden for many. Lindner stresses that the exact costs of the new overall package cannot yet be precisely quantified. However, they could be at the level of the first aid package decided in February. According to previous information, it will cost 15,600 million euros. The volume also depends on how much fuel is refueled at cheaper prices and how many citizens use cheaper public transport tickets.

The Institute for German Economics (IW) in Cologne delivered an estimate of the package on Thursday. It is also a matter of gross and net. The €300 grant initially amounts to €14 billion, but due to taxes, the measure effectively costs the tax authorities €10 billion. If the subsidy flows into consumption, additional tax revenue is added. According to IW, the €100 per child costs €1.5 billion. The losses due to the reduction of the tax on gasoline and diesel amount to 3,500 million euros. Therefore, these three measures alone amount to €15 billion. Then the reduction in the cost of public transport tickets is added, presumably also a single-digit billion amount. So the second aid package could cost more overall than the first. It is financed by a supplementary budget through new debt.

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