Federal Ministry of Finance (Germany)
|Bundesministerium der Finanzen (BMF)|
|Formed||14 July 1879 (Reichsschatzamt)|
|Jurisdiction||Cabinet of Germany|
Wilhelmstraße 97, 10117 Berlin
|Annual budget||€6.194 billion (2017)|
The Federal Ministry of Finance (German: Bundesministerium der Finanzen), abbreviated BMF, is the cabinet-level finance ministry of Germany, with its seat at the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in Berlin and a secondary office in Bonn. The current Federal Minister of Finance is Peter Altmaier (CDU).
In German politics, the Ministry of Finance beside the Interior, Foreign, Justice and Defence ministries is counted as one of the "classical portfolios" (denoted by the definite article der), which were also part of the first German government under Otto von Bismarck following the Unification of 1871.
Fiscal policy in the German Empire was predominantly the domain of the various states responsible for all direct taxation according to the 1833 Zollverein treaties. The federal government merely received indirect contributions from the states. Matters of fiscal policy at the federal level initially was the exclusive responsibility of the German Chancellery under Otto von Bismarck. However, in 1877 a special finance department was established, which with effect from 14 July 1879 was separated from the chancellery as the Imperial Treasury (Reichsschatzamt), a federal agency in its own right. With its seat vis-à-vis on Wilhelmplatz in Berlin, it was first headed by a subsecretary, and from 1880 by a Secretary of State only answerable to the chancellor.
After World War I, the newly established Weimar Republic had to face huge reparations and a fiscal emergency. To cope with the implications, the former Reichsschatzamt in 1919 was re-organised as a federal ministry, the Reichsministerium der Finanzen, as supreme financial authority headed by a federal minister. Besides a Reich Treasury Ministry (Reichsschatzministerium) was established for the administration of the federal property, both agencies were merged in 1923.
Already in the German cabinet of Chancellor Franz von Papen, Undersecretary Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk was appointed Finance Minister in 1932, an office he held throughout the Nazi era until 1945. The ministry played a vital role in financing the German re-armament, in the "Aryanization" of Jewish property ("Reich Flight Tax"), German war economy, and the plundering of occupied countries in World War II. The budget deficit had already reached heady heights on the eve of the war, aggrandised by hidden Mefo and Oeffa bill financing. In turn, saving banks and credit institutions were obliged to sign war bonds while price stability was enforced by government intervention and the German public was called up to bank surplus money.
After World War II the ministry was re-established in 1949 and renamed the West German Bundesministerium der Finanzen. Since 1999, the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus (former Air Ministry Building) in Berlin has been the headquarters of the ministry.
The Ministry of Finance in Berlin in the 1930s' and 1940s' was responsible for the plunder of Jewish assets throughout Europe. After Germany took over Austria on March 12th, 1938 every Jewish family in Austria received from the Ministry of Finance in Berlin, a form called "Verzeichnis uber das Vermogen von Juden nach dem Stand von 27 April, 1938." All Jewish households had to list the value of all their assets including silver, gold, real estate, bank accounts, businesses / inventories and jewelry.This even included silverware such as knives, forks and spoons. In addition all debts owed to Aryan Germans also had to be listed. On the form Austrian Jews were warned that they had to complete these documents by June 30th, 1938 or risk serious punishment such as imprisonment. These forms had to be mailed back to the Finanzamt (tax authority) in Berlin.
After German Reunification in 1991, the Ministry of Finance headed by Theo Waigel, working together with the Ministry of Justice, headed by Sabine Leutheusser Schnarrenberger, refused to return all real estate in East Germany belonging to 6 Austrian Jewish citizens. The return of these assets was requested by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, who described the refusal as "shocking and devastating." The German newspaper Die Zeit described the refusal as "a third expropriation". The German Jewish paper Allgemeine Judische Zeitung referred to this as an "Expropriation through the Back Door."
Structure and function
The Ministry is the supreme federal authority in revenue administration and governs a number of subordinate federal, intermediate, and local authorities such as the Federal Centre for Data Processing and Information Technology (ZIVIT). The Ministry's wider portfolio includes public-law agencies and corporations such as the Federal Finance Regulator (BaFin) and Real Estate regulatory bodies. The finance minister is the only cabinet minister who can veto a decision of the government if it would lead to additional expenditure. The German newspaper FAZ stated, the Ministry of Finance is the most important Ministry in the German government.
- Directorate-General Z (Central Services): Deals with all ministerial organizational matters, including human resources, IT, occupational training, management, and administration
- Directorate-General I (Fiscal and Macroeconomic Affairs): Determines the strategic focus of the Ministry's fiscal policy instruments, forecasts public budget trends and conducts macroeconomic research
- Directorate-General II (Federal Budget): Responsible for drawing up the federal budget by calculating revenue and spending for each government policy area.
- Directorate-General III (Customs and Excise): Responsible for levying customs and excise duties, as well as for monitoring cross-border goods traffic.
- Directorate-General IV (Taxation): Together with the other member states of the EU, the Ministry works to improve coordination among the different systems of taxes.
- Directorate-General V (Financial Relations and Law): Coordinates financial relations between central, regional and local governments. Also responsible for public law, legal affairs, and handling proceedings before Germany's Federal Constitutional Court and the European courts. Furthermore, this directorate-general deals with settlement of war burdens, compensation for National Socialist injustices, and unresolved property issues in eastern Germany
- Directorate-General VII (Financial Market Policy): Manages the federal debt, including issuance of securities for financial markets and private investors which ensure the budgeted volume of credit is obtained when needed and at market rates. Also responsible for the Bundesbank and the European Central Bank. Shapes the legal framework for financial markets through its capital market policy and exercises legal supervision over the German financial watchdog agency BaFin.
- Directorate-General VIII (Privatisation): Sets the policy for managing state holdings which is then undertaken by individual government departments. Operates a real estate institute that markets properties that the German Government no longer needs, and operates standardised facility management for federal properties.
- Directorate-General E (European Policy): Responsible for coordinating the German Government's European economic and financial policy under the EU Treaty.
The federal ministry directly governs the following agencies:
- Higher federal authorities
- Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt)
- Federal Office of Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV)
- Federal Equalisation of Burdens Office (BAA)
- Federal Spirits Monopoly Administration (BfB)
- Intermediate and local authorities
- Other agencies
- Centre for Data Processing and Information Technology (ZIVIT)
- Training and Knowledge Centre (BWZ)
Legally independent entities in the Ministry's wider portfolio include:
- Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin)
- Financial Market Stabilisation Fund (SoFFin)
- Federal Agency for Financial Market Stabilisation (FMSA)
- Institute for Federal Real Estate (BImA)
- Federal Institute for Special Tasks Arising from Unification (BvS)
- Federal Posts and Telecommunications Agency (BAnst PT)
- Federal Pensions Service for Posts and Telecommunications (BPS-PT)
- Posts and Telecommunications Accident Fund (UKPT)
- Museum Foundation for Posts and Telecommunications (MusStiftPT)
Federal Ministers of Finance
|Party||Term of Office||Chancellor
|CSU||20 September 1949||29 October 1957||Adenauer
(I • II)
|CDU||29 October 1957||14 November 1961||Adenauer
|FDP||14 November 1961||19 November 1962||Adenauer
|FDP||14 December 1962||28 October 1966||Adenauer (V)
Erhard (I • II)
|CDU||8 November 1966||30 November 1966||Erhard
|6||Franz Josef Strauß
|CSU||1 December 1966||21 October 1969||Kiesinger
|SPD||22 October 1969||13 May 1971||Brandt
|SPD||13 May 1971||7 July 1972|
|SPD||7 July 1972||1 May 1974||Brandt
(I • II)
|SPD||16 May 1974||15 February 1978||Schmidt
(I • II)
|SPD||16 February 1978||28 April 1982||Schmidt
(II • III)
|SPD||28 April 1982||1 October 1982||Schmidt
|CDU||4 October 1982||21 April 1989||Kohl
(I • II • III)
|CSU||21 April 1989||27 October 1998||Kohl
(III • IV • V)
|SPD||27 October 1998||18 March 1999||Schröder
|SPD||12 April 1999||22 November 2005||Schröder
(I • II)
|SPD||22 November 2005||28 October 2009||Merkel
|CDU||28 October 2009||24 October 2017||Merkel
(II • III)
|CDU||24 October 2017||Incumbent (acting)||Merkel
- Official website (in German)