German Same-Sex Couples to Receive Equal Inheritance Rights

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that registered same-sex partners should receive the same inheritance rights as married couples. According to the Associated Press, the court decided yesterday in favor of two plaintiffs who had lost their partners and were forced to pay an inheritance tax similar to those paid by distant relatives.

“The Constitutional Court ruled that there was not a significant enough difference between married spouses and registered life partners to justify discrimination against the latter,” court spokeswoman Judith Blohm told Deutsche Welle. The court has given the German government until 2011 to compensate those penalized under the unconstitutional inheritance law, according to Reuters.

The threshold for tax free inheritance was smaller for same-sex partners than married couples, according to Deutsche Welle, and same-sex partners had to pay between 17 and 50 percent taxes on the taxable inheritance. Married spouses must pay between 7 and 30 percent on the taxable inheritance.

Germany legalized “registered partnerships” for same-sex couples in 2001, according to Agence France Presse, but partners in these unions do not receive many of the benefits received by married couples. The German government introduced a draft bill in June that would give same-sex couples the same inheritance rights as married couples. The court has set a deadline of December 31st for the parliament to produce new legislation to rectify the inheritance tax disparities between registered partnerships and married couples. It is expected that the German parliament will also rectify the income tax disadvantages of same-sex partners, including retroactive compensation, according to Deutsche Welle.


Associated Press 8/17/10; Deutsche Welle 8/17/10; Reuters 8/17/10; Agency France Presse 8/17/10

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