The traffic light has already increased the commuter allowance in its relief packages, but only from the 21st kilometer. Federal Minister of Finance Lindner pleads for a further surcharge and for a credit from the first kilometer. The Social Democrats signal approval.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner has proposed a general increase in the commuter allowance in view of the sharp rise in energy prices to relieve citizens. He was open to "significantly increasing the commuter allowance from 2023," wrote Lindner on Twitter. This should then apply "from the first kilometer and not only for long-distance commuters". Support came from the Union. However, the left pointed out that low earners would not benefit in some cases.
"The many people who commute to work every day are particularly affected by the high energy costs," wrote Lindner. "If everyone in the coalition takes this problem seriously," he said, he was open to a significantly higher commuter allowance from next year. "Commuting must remain affordable," said Axel Knoerig, chairman of the workers' group of the Union faction. In rural areas in particular, it is hardly or not at all possible for employees to switch to local public transport. "SPD and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen should therefore not block Christian Lindner's advance and allow relief for those who also need this help."
SPD parliamentary group leader Achim Post was also open to a higher commuter allowance. "Basically, from my point of view, an increase in the commuter allowance from the 1st kilometer can certainly be an instrument to create effective further relief for employees, especially in rural areas," he said. According to Post, studies have shown that the current relief packages from the traffic light coalition are beginning to have an effect. The increase in the long-distance commuter allowance that has already been decided will also have a noticeable relief effect, especially for commuters in rural areas.
The Greens expressed reservations. The deputy parliamentary group leader Andreas Audretsch said: "Simply raising the commuter allowance would primarily benefit people who earn a lot and would not offer any incentives to save more fuel." The central requirements for relief measures in these difficult times would therefore not be met. "Right now we have to ensure that relief reaches people with low and middle incomes in a targeted manner and at the same time offers added value for more efficient use of scarce and expensive energy."
"But it is also true that if energy prices continue to rise, further relief will be required," said the SPD politician. "I welcome the fact that Finance Minister Lindner is also open to further relief measures." However, these would then have to be financed in such a way that social benefits and investments in the future are maintained at a high level. "I still think it is too early to debate further individual relief measures. It is clear, however, that ultimately it must always be about a balanced overall package of possible further relief measures, which must be targeted and socially just in its overall effect."
"It is right to relieve commuters of moon prices at the gas station," explained the financial policy spokesman for the left-wing faction, Christian Görke. However, the commuter allowance has "a design flaw: because it lowers the taxable income, the manager with the highest income is relieved more than the skilled worker for the same commute distance." And the part-time cashier, who earns so little that she doesn't pay income tax, is left "with the commuter allowance completely on her travel expenses".
"After the tank discount, the next billion-dollar gift for motorists," criticized Dirk Flege, Managing Director of the Pro-Rail Alliance. Because the commuter allowance flows "up to 80 percent to drivers" and is "rightly" listed by the Federal Environment Agency "in the list of environmentally harmful subsidies". "Finance Minister Lindner is torpedoing the turnaround in traffic and the switch to buses and trains where he can."
As part of its relief packages, the traffic light coalition had already increased the commuter allowance by three to 38 cents per kilometer. This applied retrospectively to January 1, but only from the 21st kilometer and thus for people with a particularly long commute to work. Up to and including 20 kilometers, commuters can currently deduct 30 cents per kilometer from their taxes. The commuter lump sum applies not only to car or motorcyclists, but also to those who commute to work on foot, by bicycle or by public transport.