Germany has around 1.5 million millionaires. A number that’s increasing day by day. Along with demands that they should pay more tax. What do the rich think of that? The responses couldn’t be more varied.
"I’ve had the good fortune to be born into the right family, with a silver spoon in my mouth. I think that’s totally unfair." - 32-year-old Stefanie Bremer is one of the richest people in Germany. Her family owns a major engineering company. The heiress and other millionaires in the group "Tax me now" want the state to levy higher taxes on "people like us".
Self-made millionaire Michael Hausenblas, on the other hand, rejects the concept of wealth redistribution. The 53-year-old made his fortune selling vacuum cleaners that also purify the air. Hyla Germany’s annual turnover more than doubled during the pandemic: to 50 million Euros.
"Performance should be profitable and shouldn’t be punished with high taxes," is the Hausenblas credo.
And then there are the bluebloods: Countess Bettina Bernadotte and Count Björn Bernadotte are titled aristocrats with close links to the Swedish royal family. The siblings co-manage the island of Mainau on Lake Constance. To avoid inheritance disputes, their parents - the landowners - rebranded the island as a charitable foundation some 40 years ago. The move came with tax advantages. The Count and Countess take their social responsibility seriously, running charitable programs for children and young people.
But Stefanie Bremer disapproves. She says the voluntary engagement of the rich can never go far enough. "A community can’t depend on wealthy patrons," she says. "Money is better off in the hands of the state, which also invests in sectors unattractive to rich philanthropists."