|This paper investigates the long-term evolution of the tax system in Germany to explain why the political left has increasingly expanded taxation to its own clientele. The paper contrasts the second half of the 19th with the second half of the 20th century to show that some of the underlying parameters of tax systems have changed over time. In particular these are the existence of a mature welfare state and the significance of real wages as a tax base. Moreover, the paper selectively uses comparisons with the United Kingdom (UK) to show that where these conditions are absent the structure of the tax system is very different and taxes labour much less than in Germany. In this sense the British self-transformation of the welfare state has had very different political consequences than the German.
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