Infotech Gaspard Koenig: “Let’s stop mixing money and love! »

Gaspard Koenig: “Let’s stop mixing money and love! »

At my wedding, the mayor solemnly read me article 212 of the Civil Code: “spouses owe each other mutual respect, fidelity, help and assistance”. All in the emotion of this big day, I hardly paid attention to it. I even said to myself that the legislator seemed to have quite laudable intentions. Shouldn’t we respect the one with whom we decide to spend our life?

But this kind advice, by placing “mutual aid” at the heart of our legal order, generates a number of perverse effects.

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During the heated debate on the individualisation of the Disabled Adult Allowance (AAH), the amount of which now depends on the spouse’s income, the government rightly invoked “the entire French social protection system based on family and national solidarity”. Indeed, if the spouses owe each other “assistance”, then the one who earns a decent living is under a moral and legal obligation to take care of his disabled companion, including financially. From this point of view, individualizing the AAH would amount to breaking the equality between households.

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The same logic prevails for the calculation of the RSA. The monthly amount of the minimum allowance is indeed 565 euros per single adult, but only 848 euros for a couple. The administration relies on the notion of “equivalence scale” to assess the pooling of needs in the couple. We will use a single dose of dishwashing product for two guests, a single duvet for two sleepers: so many savings! This explains why CAF inspectors come regularly to check their recipients to check if they are indeed single. In case of suspicion of conjugal life, the administration will claim an undue payment. The recitals of the trials give an idea of ​​the clues collected by the social workers: were there two toothbrushes on the sink, two pillows in the bed? The State thus mobilizes significant means of control to recover a few euros. The best connoisseurs of these financially questionable and humanly indefensible methods are the first to denounce it: thus Daniel Lenoir, former director of the Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales, clearly expressed himself against the conjugalization of the RSA.

The keystone of this edifice of “mutual aid” is ensured by the notion of tax household. Since we are supposed to share the expenses, it is logical that the receipts are also pooled, and therefore that we pay the tax together, hand in hand. The marital quotient, which appeared after the war, establishes that an individual’s taxable income is equal to half of the household’s income. In other words, the spouses or the PACS are supposed to mix the products of their labor in the great whole of the household. Mechanically, too great a differential of income in the couple discourages the member with the lowest income from continuing his activity.

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The deconjugalization of our law would therefore be a powerful instrument both for simplification and for the emancipation of individuals, who would benefit from their rights and pay their taxes according to their own situation and not their marital situation. This is what corresponds to a modern conception of the couple: not a couple in fusion, but a contract all the more solid as it remains freely consented. Having lived for several years in countries where the tax is individualized, I appreciated this way of not mixing money and love. Each has his own professional life, each has his tax duty, for the greater good of the family. We lend ourselves all the better to help and assistance because we are not obliged to do so by law.

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Women suffer from the conjugalization of the law

The deconjugalization of the law would put an end to a Judeo-Christian tradition which considers the family as the basic unit of the social order. It is not a question of the State waging war on the family, of course, but simply of remaining neutral with regard to individual choices. The consequences would go beyond the simple question of social rights and would logically imply the abolition of the hereditary reserve, the alignment of inheritance taxation between single people, the flat-rate family allowances (equal for each child regardless of their rank in the siblings), or even the establishment of an individual and unconditional universal income.

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Knowing that, according to the 2021 INSEE report on household income and wealth, working women receive incomes 25% lower on average than those of men, it is now mainly women who suffer from the conjugation of law. Disabled or destitute, they are subject to the goodwill of their spouse to meet their needs. In a wealthy environment, they find themselves prisoners of the tax household. In very concrete terms, going back to work after maternity leave can turn out to be an economically disadvantageous choice for the couple. It is no coincidence that, in Belgium, feminist associations such as “Feminine Life” or “Women Provident Socialists” campaign for the individualization of social benefits.

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We are approaching the anniversary of February 18, 1938, the date on which women were allowed to enroll in university without the permission of their husbands. To celebrate it with dignity, wouldn’t it be time to repeal article 212 of the civil code and complete the individualization of the law? In a secular and egalitarian society, the mayor should not instruct the future spouses of their reciprocal duties, but simply certify their union. My body belongs to me: my rights and my taxes too!

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