In Brief

About the project

Many people in Germany perceive society as unfair and would like to see less inequality. However, people often find it difficult to translate this into concrete reform wishes. The state budget and tax system as central instruments of economic equalization are a black box for many. That is why a broad and informed public debate is difficult to organize. One way to overcome such high information barriers and to discuss controversial issues constructively is through citizens' councils.

The feasibility study by our partner Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit analyzes the extent to which the topic of "justice and taxes" is suitable for a nationwide citizens' council. The central part of the study is a pilot project in which participants, drawn from a representative sample, discuss what they consider to be unfair in Germany. A proposal for a future citizens' council will also be developed.


Why are we running this project? 

People increasingly feel that society is unfair. But most people find it difficult to discuss suitable solutions. The tax system as a central instrument for social balance is a black box for them. They do not perceive the political debate on taxes because of its complexity. Informed public debate is lacking. Trust in democracy is declining. A citizens' council is an appropriate antidote.

What are our goals? 

A citizens' council is to create a debate environment in which high information barriers can be overcome and constructive work can be done to reach a consensus on suitable measures against social inequality. A pilot project and a feasibility study are to pave the way for this. The feasibility study examines the extent to which the topic is suitable for a citizens' council, how the format can contribute to an informed debate on justice and taxes in society as a whole, and what alternatives there are. The scientific monitoring of the pilot project provides insights into how people discuss justice and taxes when they engage in informed and constructive debate, thanks to expert input and professional moderation.

How does the project work? 

In December 2022 and January 2023, our partner Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit (Tax Justice Network)  worked with more than 30 experts from the fields of deliberative citizen participation and taxes and justice to develop the conceptual basis for the project. They then held discussions with stakeholders from politics, media, and civil society to understand their perspectives and needs, and sought participants for a pilot project. In May, they organized a pilot project together with IFOK, an independent citizen participation institute, in which about 25 randomly drawn citizens deliberated on a citizen-driven recommendation for the question to the ZUKUNFT:STEUERN (FUTURE:TAXES) citizens' council. In September 2023, the results and recommendations will be presented in a feasibility study. They will inform the debate on suitable topics for the citizens' councils planned by the Bundestag and serve as a basis for educational and discussion events on the subject of justice and taxes.

Who are the target groups?

The feasibility study is primarily aimed at policymakers. It offers an evaluation of the topic of justice and taxes for a possible Bundestag citizens' council. 

Where is the project run?

In Germany. 

Who organizes and supports the project?

Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit is in charge of the project. It advocates for fair and sustainable financial systems and is committed to combating tax evasion and shadow finance worldwide. ifok supports the implementation of the pilot project as an independent process facilitator and takes over the conceptual development as well as the neutral moderation in order to ensure the openness of the process during its implementation. ifok was already involved in the Citizens' Council on Germany's Role in the World, the Citizens' Council on Democracy and the Citizens' Council on Climate, among others.

Your contact persons

Hannah Meyer
Senior Project Manager
Phone+49 30 220025-441
e-mail to Hannah Meyer
Christoph Trautvetter
Wissenschaftlicher Referent
Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit
e-mail to Christoph Trautvetter
Dr. Nikolas Schöll
Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit
e-mail to Dr. Nikolas Schöll