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Germany top court same-sex couples entitled to tax benefits

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany [official website, in German] ruled [judgment, in German] Thursday that couples in same-sex civil unions should be awarded the same income tax benefits [press release, in German] as married couples. This ruling is a retroactive interpretation of the Civil Partnership Act of 2001 [official text, in English, German], which recognized civil unions, but did not explicitly grant those tax benefits. Unions where one partner remained at home can now file jointly by pooling their incomes under one household and receiving respective benefits. Partners affected by the retroactive ruling can now apply for refunds for the past 12 years of over payment.

The Federal Constitutional Court in February ruled [judgment, in German] that same-sex couples in a civil union can legally adopt [JURIST report] the non-biological children of their partners. In August the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples in a civil union should receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples with regard to land transfer tax [JURIST report], further noting that the decision should apply retroactively. That ruling came during the same month that 13 members of the country's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) [party website, in German] called for same-sex couples to be granted joint-filing tax benefits. In August 2010 the land transfer tax was amended to allow the same benefits [JURIST report] as heterosexual couples for same-sex couples in case of a divorce. In June of the same year an administrative court in Berlin held that a same-sex marriage performed abroad must be recognized in a registered partnership[JURIST report] in Germany.

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