Family values: the Netherlands consider tax breaks for stay at home mothers

EPA/KOEN VAN WEEL

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima pose with their three children (L-R) Amalia, Alexia and Ariane and two dogs during a photo call on the beach in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, 10 July 2015.

Family values: the Netherlands consider tax breaks for stay at home mothers


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The Christian Democrats and two Christian fundamentalist parties in the Netherlands are about to get their way on Dutch tax reforms. The emerging deal is for the three parties to lend their support for €5 bn in tax cuts, in exchange for tax breaks for “traditional families” with stay at home mothers.

The Dutch Tax minister, Eric Wiebes, is cornered into giving in on demands for bigger tax breaks for families with stay at home mothers. In the Netherlands, there is an individual tax-free allowance, that is, a share of the income that is tax free. That means that the state in effect promotes a family model with two working parents, since non-working partners are not given any tax break.

The Prime Minister committed on Wednesday of holding the debate in the cabinet. The Dutch Tax Minister, Eric Wiebes, needs the support of Christian fundamentalist parties in the upper house of parliament (senate), where the biggest coalition partners, the Liberal-Conservative VVD and Labour, control merely 21 out of 75 seats.

The alternative for the government is an alliance with the Socialists, GroenLinks and the D66 Liberal democrats. The Socialists want cuts in the income tax rate, while the GroenLinks want taxes designed to boost environmental sustainability. In this scheme, it seems the Christian fundamentalist parties are offering the easiest or cheaper compromise for the government.

The two Dutch Christian parties – ChristenUnie and SGP – split in 2009, following 25 years of running on a joint platform. SGP does not allow women to stand for office, although they can be members, is against homosexuality, and believes in a theocratic state.

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