German income tax

We are all adults here and we all know that at some point, we have to deal with the petty and boring things of adulthood. Knowing about the German income tax is one of those things. It’s always useful to know how much your fair share to the community is.

German income tax simply explained

Bear with me okay ?

The German income tax in a nutshell (bear with me)

The German income tax is known as “Einkommensteuer“. For employees who have their wages as their only income, it’s fairly straightforward.

Employees will pay the tax called “Lohnsteuer” directly at the source, from your pay slip. It is taxing the income you will get in your pocket in exchange of your work force. It means that your employer will deduct the corresponding sum off your gross wage and transfer it to the state. The rate to which you will pay the German income tax depends on how big the number is on your pay check. If you want to know how high that number should be, i have also written a long piece about a salary in Berlin and what it should be. If you don’t have any alternative sources of income, it pretty much ends there.

However, other sources of income fall under taxation as well like revenue from rental investment, stock exchange operations or exceptional situations when selling a car, a house. If you are a landlord, then it will tax the rent you get from the tenants.

After the end of the year, going through your tax statement “Steuererklärung” lets you communicate exactly to your tax office what you have earned during that year. You are also able to state expenses eligible for tax cuts, whether you are an employee, self-employed or generally with multiple income sources. It is then possible to reduce your rate by a few hundred euros, or even get a few hundred euros back!

I have written a full guide on how to do this here.

 

German income tax rate for a single person :

  • Until 8,004 € a year : not taxed
  • From 8,005 €  until 52 882 € a year : tax-level between 14 % to 42 %
  • From 52,882 € a year : 42 %
  • From 250,731 € a year : 45 %

Tip 1: Get married ! The German income tax sharply decreases for families (up to 7000€). It might be a good time to start looking for a wife/husband.

Tip 2: There are number of ways to grab a few more euros out of your gross salary like subscribing to a private health insurance or getting compensated for the commute you do everyday to go to work. It might worth investigating. If you have already bought a flat or a house, you can get tax returns if you decide to renovate it.

Tip 3: If you are bit lost or you need advice, it’s very common in Germany to call a tax specialist (Steuerberater) to help you optimize your tax returns. You can also use online tools like this one.

5 Comments

  • Reply Miklos 21/11/2016 at 20:02

    “tax-level between 14 % to 42 %” is totally useless if one wants to calculate the income tax.

  • Reply Sooty 09/06/2015 at 14:58

    Thank you …..

  • Reply Alexander 08/06/2015 at 21:10

    Hi. Usualy, Germany will not tax your Pension when it is already taxed in the UK. But it will take it into consideration when determining the tax rate on any other income taxable in Germany (like employment income). This functionality is called ‘progression clause’. The actual effect on the German taxes will depend on the amount of your income taxable in Germany and, of course, the annual total of your income from the UK Pension.
    Please note, the answer is just based on the rough facts of your questions. I agree with the general advise: ask a professional tax advisor with some experience on expat or international tax. Best, Alexander

  • Reply Sooty 07/04/2015 at 17:40

    Hello
    What happens if you are living on a uk pension that is already taxed in the uk and is worth thruppence?
    Cheers Sooty

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 14/04/2015 at 15:07

      The best might be to ask a Steuerberater. Whenever you have more than one income source, it’s best to go with a professional.

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