How to change tax class in Germany

Ah taxes… Don’t we just all love it?

Probably one of the most boring topics to deal with but also one of the most essential ones, especially in Germany. There are many factors impacting on your income tax rate; few of them are more important than your tax class.

In this post, we will go over what it all means and if you think it’s relevant to your situation, how to change your tax class in Germany.

How to change tax class in Germany

Tax classes in Germany: TL;DR

In nutshell; your tax class in Germany is more or less defined by your marital status. Depending on this, you will be put in different categories by the Finanzamt. This will help your employer apply the correct tax rate on your payslip, hence the name “Lohnsteuerklasse”. This impacts how much wage tax (“Lohnsteuerabzug”), solidarity contribution (“Solidaritätszuschlag”) and Church tax (“Kirchensteuer”) will be taken from your gross salary.

In other words, your net salary is directly related to your tax class in Germany.

As you might have already guessed it; this is only relevant to employees. Self-employed are paying income tax through other means.

Quick overview

There are 6 categories overall.

Tax classMarital status
Steuerklasse 0You are not a German resident.
Steuerklasse 1You are single, widow(er), separated/divorced
Steuerklasse 2You are a single parent
Steuerklasse 3You are married with a higher income (than your partner in Steuerklasse 5)
Steuerklasse 4You are married with both equivalent income
Steuerklasse 5You are married with a lower income (than your partner in Steuerklasse 3)
Steuerklasse 6The class used for additional jobs (Nebenjob or Zweitjob)

Attention married people: you can save money

As you can see, married people can belong to different classes and optimize differently. By default, the Finanzamt will put both partners in tax class 4, when you first register your marriage or marry in Germany. However, for a lot of households, this is often not the best solution. Why, you ask?

It’s quite simple really: the German tax system knows that the higher-earner is often bearing more of the costs in the household. The idea here is to allow for a tax rebate when one of the partners earns significantly less than the other. As a result, moving from tax class 4 to tax class 3/5 might increase the net salary for the higher earner.

When is it worth to change classes in that case?

The higher-earner in the household has to earn a good deal more for this to make sense. They should earn at least 60% of the total household income.

How to change tax classes in Germany

The process to change tax class in Germany is fairly simple:

  1. Get a hold of the form “Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten” (Request for tax class change for married people). You can fill it online on the official finance ministry website this way When you have filled both pages in, you can download it as a PDF. Alternatively, you can download an empty PDF file here.
  2. Print-it and sign it (both partners)
  3. Send it to your Finanzamt

Important notes

  • The tax class change will happen on the month following the request submission. So that’s when you can see a difference in your net salary.
  • As mentioned at the end of the second page in the document; if both partners are employees and you have been through a tax class change in Germany, it is mandatory to submit a tax statement (Steuererklärung; more info this way) after the end of the year (e.g: do one in 2019 for the year 2018, if you changed in 2018)
You or your Steuerberater will appreciate the change !


How many times can i change tax classes in Germany ?

In most cases, this is only possible once a year. However, it is possible to do this more often in the following cases:

  • When your partner is not an employee anymore (becoming a freelancer, retirement, parental leave, unemployment).
  • When your partner is an employee again
  • When one of the partners passes away
  • In case of divorce or separation

What events can be cause of a tax class change?

Very logically, life events that were just previously listed can be cause for change of tax class in Germany; marriage, divorce, death of partner, unemployment, retirement, parental leave, becoming a freelancer.

Can the tax benefit apply retroactively if i change tax classes?

Provided you make the application before 30/11 of that year, you can benefit from that tax cut for the months prior too.

Is worth it for me and my partner to make a change?

You can use this very easy to use simulator. Enter both your gross salaries in it, together with your postal code. You will be able to see if it’s worth to make a tax class change in Germany, and who should be on tax class 3.

I just got divorced/separated, what do i do now to change class?

You would use this form to signify the Finanzamt that you are now separated from your partner. The adjustment will be then made automatically after they process this document.

My partner is living abroad, can i still change tax class?

For a tax class change to be possible, both partners need to be “unbeschränkt einkommensteuerpflichtig“, which means to be subject to an unrestricted income taxation. In practical terms, this is made possible only when the partner is also a German resident. However, an exception to this rule is possible if you and your partner fulfill the following requirements (source):

  • You have EU or Swiss citizenship.
  • Your partner has residence in another EU country (+ Switzerland).
  • At least 90% of the total income is subject to German income tax. The same applies if the income not subject to German income tax does not exceed 18 336€ in a calendar year.

Hope this little guide helped. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if anything is unclear.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4  


  • Reply Mario 14/05/2019 at 16:33


    Thanks for your helpful article. My husband and I both work full-time in Germany. He has a high income, I have a medium income. We accidentally signed up (both of us) for Steuerklasse 4, but I see that perhaps we should be in 3 & 5. However, my HR department advised against it, but I did not understand why. What would you recommend? Will be able to get some money back from for the year we both worked in Steuerklasse 4? I cannot understand what the calculator in the link is recommending. Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 14:27

      Hey Mario. I can’t tell you why your HR department recommended this. This is why the calculator is there: to understand if it makes sense. Have you try to translate the page?

  • Reply Maria Z. 06/05/2019 at 14:50

    Hello Bastian, thank you so much for all the information that you offer in your website. I moved to Germany in 2016 with my husband. At that time, he was the only one working and we were placed in Class 3&5. I worked for a part time job for 6 months in 2016. In 2017 I had a minijob for 6 months (July-December) and a part time job for 3 months (October-December)
    I have two main questions:
    – Do I need to include both of my jobs (Mini job and part time) for the year 2017?
    – Can I still submit a Steuererklärung for year 2016 and 2017 or would I have to pay a fine?

    Again thank you so much for all the useful and clear information you provide.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/05/2019 at 10:13

      Hey Maria. 1- yes, all income needs to be accounted for. 2- Yes, you can still submit it for the year 2016 and 2017. No fine, unless you had to submit one for those years, for the cases described here.

  • Reply Dario 05/05/2019 at 22:23

    I might move with my family to Berlin very soon. My partner and I have are neither married nor in a civil registered partnership. We have a child.
    For the initial period I will be the only source of income while my company supports my partner in finding a new job.
    Which tax class is applicable to my case?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/05/2019 at 10:12

      Hey Dario. If your partnership is not registered, then you’d be treated as a single person.

  • Reply Velimir Dobranski 03/05/2019 at 13:48

    Hello, my name is Velimir and I’ve been working in Germany for 2 and half years. Last month my employer received different tax class for me. When I made a call to tax department they told me I have no address here. Which is funny because I’m staying on the same address since beginning. How can I find out what’s going on and get back to class 1. I’m in class 6 now. Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/05/2019 at 12:47

      Hey Velimir. You need to clear this with your employer directly. Send them your Meldebescheinigung to prove that you have your address here in Germany.

  • Reply Sree 11/04/2019 at 17:08

    Hi Friends, I am Indian citizen working in Germany with Blue card. Me and wife are staying here and me on tax class 3. From 1 April 2019 my wife left Germany and I have de-registered her from Germany even she is having valid visa till 2020 due to some person reasons, she needs to stay in India. Here My question is what about my tax class from April 2019 to dec 2019. I know for sure it will change to class 1 from next year i.e. 2020.
    Thank you so much in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 10:15

      Hey Sree. If she is not a German resident anymore, you’d probably need to switch to tax class 1 right now.

  • Reply Albert Leo 09/04/2019 at 14:41

    I am an international student. I do 3 jobs
    Two are part time and steuerklasse 1 respectively. And the other is a minijob, but I don’t work up-to 450€ /month. Please how do I go about it? And am I safe with my tax classes of one each for the job. Reply asap

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 10:36

      Hey Leo. You can’t be wrong in tax classes and they are assigned to you by the Finanzamt. No need to worry.

  • Reply Chandu 04/04/2019 at 20:37

    Hi Dear Bastien,

    Good evening…

    I have a question regarding tax class: I am a non EU and currently I have a tax class 3 and my wife recently started with mini-job (which is around 415Euro/month) only 40hours per month.
    Is it neccesary to change my tax class? I heard that earning upto 450euro/month is tax free.
    Please let me know your opinion.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/04/2019 at 22:12

      Hey Chandu. you are still the high-earner in this case, it seems, so tax 3 would be fitting in my opinion. Why would you change?

  • Reply Franco 30/03/2019 at 22:19

    Hi I m a full time employee of a German company, I took resident and got my tax Id. Have no other jobs nor income, should I submit my tax declaration or the employer already deducted what is due? I have no deductions to claim. Thx

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/03/2019 at 20:35

      Hey Franco. You might want to have a look at this post. You have some deductions when you start a new job.

  • Reply Einstein 28/03/2019 at 16:11

    Hello Bastien,
    I came to Germany on mid of September last year. I and my wife registered in beugeramt on October . My wife is already working here. She is in steuerklass 1. (I am looking for a job.) When my wife contacted fiannzamt to change the steuerklass as she is now married, they informed that her steuerklass has already (October) been changed to 4. So she asked her company to change the steuerklass and now they have agreed and changed the steuerklass from 1 to 4 in her salary slip. Now my question is, since there is no difference between both steuerklass 1&4, is it possible to change her steuerklass now?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/03/2019 at 20:20

      Hey Thomas. Read the post again to see when it’s possible to change it.

  • Reply RaMaNa 23/03/2019 at 00:47

    Hello Bastien,

    Your blog is really helpful. Congrats and keep going.
    I am a Non-European and I have been living in Germany since Jan 2018 and my wife (Not working) and kid joined me from Nov 2018 onward. My tax class was 1 from Jan to Oct and From Nov We changed the tax class (3 for me and 5 for my wife). Now the questions are
    1- I paid more tax being in class 1 and when filing tax return, will I be benefitted with Tax class 3 (which means refund of Net difference between class1 and class3) for months prior to November ?
    2-Any possibility to get kindergeld for 2018 during tax return or should I apply separately for getting this kindergeld ?

    .. Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/03/2019 at 20:12

      Hey Ramana. 1-As mentioned in the post. If you changed before 30/11, you can claim that benefit yes. 2-Separately.

  • Reply Zahra J 22/03/2019 at 14:59

    Hi Bastien,

    I just finished my Masters in Germany and had been working a mini-job till now. I will be offered a full time PhD position for 4 months. My question is can I keep my minijob? And if so, will I be moved to Tax-level 6?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/03/2019 at 20:10

      Hey Zahra. I don’t know sorry.

  • Reply Ngo 21/03/2019 at 05:03

    Hi all,
    I am new with the tax classes in Germany. I recently offered a 75% position as a research assistant in a German university and will start the job from 1st April. I am living with my wife and my son. She has no current job in Germany. So I think I can enter the tax class III. I want to know if she and my son come back to Vietnam, do I need to change the tax class? Can I prove that I have to support them even though they do not live in Germany to keep the same tax class? Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/03/2019 at 10:11

      Hey Ngo. Yes, if you’re wife and son are not German resident anymore, you will probably switch back. To achieve staying in the same class, you would ne to prove that your family lives under the poverty line without your support. It’s basically impossible because it’s very hard to the Finanzamt to check the facts.

  • Reply Ryan 20/03/2019 at 10:46

    Hi Bastien! I’d love your opinion or any advice. My partner and I are currently 4/4 for tax classes. I’m considering leaving my job to take on a role that is funded through a government scholarship (I don’t have a lot of specifics on that right now). It will be a big pay cut, but the income isn’t taxable. I’ll only be paying into insurance and pension. I’ve already changed tax classes once this year, but to me this sounds like I might not be considered an employee (i.e. an event which could qualify as a reason to change tax classes again). One question is, does this sound like a plausible event to switch classes again? And another is, do you know how taxation works when the Ehepartner with class 5 has no taxable income (of if that would even qualify for a 3/5 split)? I realize we’ll probably have to talk to an official or advisor eventually, but it would be great to find out as much as possible first. If specific incomes help with an answer, one income will be 50k brutto (taxable) and the other will be 24k brutto (non-taxable). Thank very much in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/03/2019 at 10:01

      Hey Ryan. I have specified the events that allow a tax class change more than once in year in the post. I tried to do some research on your question but with no luck. 🙁

  • Reply Alex 18/03/2019 at 11:46

    Hi! Thank you for amazing post. Can you help me?
    I’m married and have a kid, but both of them live outside Germany.
    1) What tax class is right for me? (As I understand class I)
    2) Also if question to choose between children yes and no in my case, what should I choose?:
     No (additional contribution under statutory nursing care insurance pursuant to art. 55 section 3, German Social Insurance Code (SGB) XI)
     Yes (Parenthood exists pursuant to art. 56 sections 1 and 3, German Social Insurance Code (SGB) I, please attach proof)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/03/2019 at 09:31

      Hey Alex. 1) 1 is what will apply, as mentioned in the post. 2) This is a bit out of context. Hard to tell. Is this a tax related question or a health insurance one?

  • Reply Bennet 17/03/2019 at 17:31

    Hi! I guess I am very lucky to find a platform like this where I can find answers.
    So I’m a student and have been working since December in Germany. But in January, I decided to resign from the first job and started a new one in February. I was paid as a Class 1 worker for the month of January. However, my employer didn’t pay me all of my benefits for the end of January, so a few days ago (in March), I received the remaining benefits. But to my greatest surpise, I’ve been placed under the klasse 6. Which effectively means that I did 2 jobs at a particular point in time. Which isn’t the case. I resigned on January 29 at the old job and I started the new job on February 4th.
    How is this possible and how do I reverse this situation??
    I’ll great appreciate a response, especially as I am under some kind of pressure and confusion.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/03/2019 at 18:16

      Hey Bennet. Get in touch with your Finanzamt and explain the situation. They will possibly ask you to submit the form mentioned in this post.

  • Reply S 14/03/2019 at 17:34

    Thank you for this extremely informative post! Just a question: where did you get the info on the 60% of total household income coming from the other person being when it makes sense to choose tax classes 3&5 instead of 4&4? My spouse earns a bit over 70% of our total income, so I visited the tax office today to put us in the classes 3&5. The official there strongly advised me against 3&5 – she said yes, we would get a few hundred euros more per month, but she also said it is a likely risk in her opinion that we would have to pay some extra tax at the end of the year. Scared by this, I opted for 4&4 instead, but now at home I am a little annoyed over our tax amount increasing.. I wonder if this higher amount will be somehow balanced in our tax report? If not, kinda sucks to be paying thousands more just to avoid a possible tax due.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/03/2019 at 18:09

      Hey S. Well, it’s sort of hard to really answer that question. That would require a more detailed look into your situation, tax breaks, family, etc… Best to get in touch with a pro if in doubt. Good luck.

  • Reply Edmond 14/03/2019 at 16:32

    Hi Bastien,
    I have an issue with “Steuerklasse” and i wanted to ask about it.
    I am a student in germany and apart from studying I have been also working as a student job (80h per month) in a restaurant. Last dezember I worked for two days as “Aushilfe” in a factory and after that i never went again to work there, and the contract finished with this factory. As a student in here I have been so far Steuerklasse 1 but since January 2019 my steuerklasse changed to 6 (more than 1 job). The same has been for February as well, I am still Steuerklasse 6 eventhough I have only one job position and frankly the taxes are very high because I get taxed as if I have two jobs. For January I understand why i turned into steuerklasse 6 because I had two sources of income since dezember 2018 but i do not understand why also in February I am still taxed as if i work 2 jobs? Anything happened like this before? I was recommended to go to Finanzamt to ask about this. I wrote here because I need an opinion about this.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2019 at 16:50

      Hey Edmond. It might be that they forgot to set your class back again. It’s better to get in touch with them yes.

  • Reply Tam 07/03/2019 at 15:53

    Hello Sebastien,

    Thank you so much for the informative post! I just arrived Germany with my family. We are appreciated a lot for your collection of information that indeed will help us.

    My contract is initially with tax class 1. Now as I have my wife here, I wanted to change to tax class 3. I got the form that you uploaded in the post to do so.
    I have a question please: Do I have to fill out another form/process other steps for the “Annual adjustment of wage tax”?

    Thank you again !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/03/2019 at 16:28

      Hey Tam. Nope.

  • Reply Appy 01/03/2019 at 16:51

    My spouse will not be working in Germany but will be staying with us for 2-3 months on a family reunion visa and subsequently as a dependent on EU Blue card holder(i.e.Myself). Does he still need to file taxes?

  • Reply Steve 01/03/2019 at 11:12


    I came to germany on May 2018 with my family (wife and daughter). I started working from 01.05.2018 to till date.
    Since my marriage certificate was not verified by the BürgerBüro, my tax class become 1. I have submitted request in Standesamt and they took 8 months to verify my marriage certificate.

    On Feb 2019, I have changed my Tax class to 3. I got married on 2016.
    Is it possible to get the tax amount which they have deducted for last year?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/03/2019 at 20:15

      Hey Steve. You can only apply the tax rebate retroactively for the months prior of the current year.

  • Reply Matthew 28/02/2019 at 16:29

    I have a situation where I will be working in Germany but, for a time, my entirely dependent family will have to stay behind in another EU country. I found some interesting information about being able to apply for unlimited taxable status even whilst abroad from . Do you have any idea about this? Maybe not, but I thought I’d ask. An excerpt is below:

    Es ist auch möglich, auf Antrag unbeschränkt steuerpflichtig zu werden – selbst wenn man nicht im Inland seinen Wohnsitz führen sollte. Bedingung hierfür ist, dass zumindest 90 Prozent der eigenen Einkünfte der deutschen Einkommensteuer unterliegen. Alternativ dürfen sich auch die ausländischen Einkünfte unter dem Grundfreibetrag von 9.168 Euro bewegen.

    Allerdings gilt es zu berücksichtigen, dass bei unbeschränkt Steuerpflichtigen das gesamte Welteinkommen zur Einkommensteuer herangezogen wird – also auch die ausländischen Einkünfte. Sinn macht dies also beispielsweise für Ausländer, die in ihrer Heimat höher als im deutschen Inland besteuert werden würden.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/03/2019 at 19:58

      Hey Matthew. I know of it but i have honestly never been confronted with the case of someone doing it. It’s really a rare and specific situation. But basically the idea is that you want your partner to be taxable here to benefit from a 3/5 combination right?

      • Reply Matthew 05/03/2019 at 16:48

        That’s the idea, yes, since the expectation is that once I get work settled and have time to hunt for a flat (with some sense of not having to rush) she and the kids (whom I support financially) can join me. Every euro counts until then, since I’ll be paying for two homes for a while! If I understand correctly, our country has a tax treaty with Germany, so I suspect that so long as she remains under the threshold allowed she shouldn’t be double-taxed, though I don’t think she’ll be able to work in the meantime.

  • Reply SJ Vincent 28/02/2019 at 13:03

    Hello Bastien,
    I have a different scenario. I am an Indian and I have been living in Germany since Jan 2018 and my wife (Not working) joined me from June 2018 onward. My tax class was 1 from Jan to July and From July We changed the tax class (3 for me and 5 for my wife). Now the question is, In which class should i file taxes?.. Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/03/2019 at 19:54

      Hey Stanley. If you are talking about the Steuererklärung, it won’t be needed in it. The Finanzamt knows already. You are now in a 3/5 combination for them.

  • Reply Edmond Allajbej 28/02/2019 at 11:47

    I am a NATO Officer (from Albanaia) working at AIRCOM Ramstein AB in Germany. Together with me is my wife and two kids (8th Grade and 10 Grade). Two month ago my wife began a job at a German company where she is paying tax class I . Each member of my family has residency permit for three years(the time of my working term here). She is not entitled to the child allowance even though she is paying a lot money as class I. Can she be treated to tax class III?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/03/2019 at 19:53

      Hey Edmond. Tax classes and child allowance are not directly connected. If you are married/in a partnership, then she certainly can. The real question is: Does it makes sense at all?

  • Reply chiew 23/02/2019 at 22:40

    Thanks for the very informative blog. It helps a lot, really.

    Question, I am working in Germany as a Nurse and my spouse is still in the Philippines. Which “Steuerklasse” would I belong? in Steuerklasse 1 or Steuerklasse 3?
    Will appreciate a response. Thank yoi

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2019 at 09:48

      Hey Chiew. For a tax class change to be possible, both partners need to be “unbeschränkt einkommensteuerpflichtig”, which means to be subject to an unrestricted income taxation. In practical terms, this is made possible only when the partner is also a German resident. So in your case, Steuerklasse 1 is correct.

  • Reply Aris 22/02/2019 at 18:12

    Hi there,
    i am about to work for a new german company. The company offers me accommodation, however that would be a hotel room in the begining. Till i rent an apartment, is it possible to acquire a tax id? Furthermore, they told me that if i don’t have a rented place to live i can go with tax category six that has much more withholding taxes than tax category one. I will be waiting for your prompt reply, thank you in advance!

  • Reply Teresa Araujo 19/02/2019 at 15:27

    Hi, I have a question…
    First there was a mistake in the finances with the classes… They changed my husband to 1, they had him as single. After I solve the problem they changed him to 3 and me 5 which is good by us.
    My question is what do I do to get my money back from the finances??? Do I need to fill anything now or they will send with the money from the steuererklärung??? Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2019 at 09:16

      Hey Teresa.

  • Reply Ola 18/02/2019 at 17:08

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks for this update. It really helped but i do have a question…
    I am divorced with my ex wife but I have two children with her and they all stay in Finland while I move to Germany since last year august (I am currently holding blue card), however I still pay Child support in Finland and I visit my children every other weekend in a month (I spend at least €450 on each trip and I pay €340 month excluding what i buy for them).
    I am on cat. 1 tax and I am wondering if I could change my category since I have kids and i spend quite a lot to see them and pay..

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


  • Reply Delya 17/02/2019 at 20:58

    Hi. I registered myself last week to Bürgeramt and I have to wait around 4 weeks to get my tax ID. Being after mid of my first month here, I will automatically be billed in tax class 6. After getting my tax ID and give it to my employer, I have to fill a form to local finanzamt for changing the tax class from 6 to 1 . Do you know where I can find online this form? I got lost in their site. Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/02/2019 at 10:43

      Hey Delya. Double check on that: I think that sort of adjustment is happening automatically once you have a tax ID.

  • Reply Serena 16/02/2019 at 11:06

    Hi Bastien,
    Thanks for keeping up with all the question that we expat are having! This website is a bless!
    I am about to get married with my partner and I would like to know how should my partner deal (he is german) with the tax issue. I am working for an international organization in Germany and thus I am Steuerfrei. My future husband is employed by a german company. My brutto salary is also the netto one. If I would take this into consideration, my boyfriend is earning way more than me. I haven’t found any case in literature that would describe it. Do you have any info with this regard? I would really appreciate if someone could solve the rebus of the Steuerklass affiliation if one of the partner is internationally recruited and the other is a normal tax payer in Germany ?

    Thanks everyone whom might reply!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/02/2019 at 10:41

      Hey Serena. Very interesting question. I think you’d be best asking your HR department, they surely must have some experience with this. Sorry i can’t help.

  • Reply Shiv M 14/02/2019 at 21:50

    Hi, Really appreciate your effort in putting the information together and reverting to each query.

    In my Case:
    I am a Blue Card holder (Category 1: Single) and will be getting married in Feb’19. My wife (to-be) stays in Lithuania (and will stay until Jun’20) for pursuing her PhD. My income is higher than hers (scholarship + salary for research). Does that make us eligible for Tax Class 3/5?

    Can I, in any way, benefit from change of tax class?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/02/2019 at 11:50

      Hey Shiv. There is no eligibility question here (apart from being married/in a partnership). You can decide whatever you want, depending on what’s best for your case. As mentioned in the post, use the simulator i linked to to find out if does for you.

  • Reply Marko 10/02/2019 at 20:52

    Hello Bastien,
    I really appreciate your effort writing such a useful and complex article! I’m working in Germany for almost half a year with
    Blue card and tax class I. I’ve recently got married, my wife is now living with me in Germany, she is registered in the city,
    waiting for the issuance of her Blue card (it may take one month). Can I change my class category now (by filling and sending
    form above) or it’s necessary to wait for my wife receiving Blue card, tax ID etc?
    Many thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2019 at 09:56

      Hey Marko. That’s an excellent question. I think it’s enough if she is registered here.

  • Reply Parth 06/02/2019 at 17:02

    Hi there,

    Firstly, thank you for this write up.
    Your notes mention how to change the tax class for married people (ie. from I to IV), but how to do that the other way round?
    I was married and hence had a tax class IV. Now I got divorced, and thereby need to change my tax class to I. How do I do that?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/02/2019 at 12:08

      Hey Parth. You would use this form to signify the Finanzamt that you are now separated from your partner. The adjustment will be then made automatically after they receive this document.

  • Reply Thomas 04/02/2019 at 09:43

    Hello Bastien,
    Thank you for the information! I have a question though. Up until now (2 years) my wife and I had the Steuerklasse 4/4 . We didn’t know that we could change the class until last week. We went to the Finanzamt and changed it for 3/5 last Friday and the lady there told us the change will apply from March on. Now my question is: Is it possible to get the money from the previous 2 years?
    Is there any form we need to fill in? And if so, do you have any link to access it? We would really appreciate it!

    Thanks for your help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/02/2019 at 11:38

      Hey Thomas, as mentioned in the post

      “Provided you make the application before 30/11 of that year, you can benefit from that tax cut for the months prior too.”

      So it would only apply for Jan and Feb 2019 i believe.

  • Reply Nadia 26/01/2019 at 19:26

    Hi Bastian,

    I’m under unemployment benefit and the Agentur fur arbeit change my category from 4 to 1. Do you think this is correct? Is normal that the agency change your category like that?

    Cause I’m still married. And actually, my husband wants to change his category.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/01/2019 at 20:49

      Hey Nadia. I had never heard of this but it is apparently possible (Source). However, class 1 seems like a mistake as you are not single.

  • Reply rahul 25/01/2019 at 11:17

    hi , I entered Germany on 7th December but i registered for my address on 7th January in the registration office , my owner has confirmed my stay from December 7th but what i heard from my colleagues that I will be charged on tax class 6 that is emergency class during period 7th December to 7th January , Is there any way i can change my tax class from 6 to 1 during this period

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/01/2019 at 20:37

      Hey Rahul. No, a change is not retro-active.

  • Reply Wes 13/01/2019 at 13:03

    Hey Bastien,
    Do you have a quick opinon on the following one: my wife has recently started working in Germany but, despite registering of her marital status (providing necessary certificate at registration), has been put into Steuerklasse 1, apparently because I have not registered yet. We both are citizens of another EU country and I’m a freelancer, paying taxes back home but able to work pretty much from anywhere. Currently I’d like to keep it that way, as the tax rates are more favorable here than in Germany :), and intend moving back an forth, spending considerable time with my wife for sure.
    So the question is: shall I register myself in Germany for my wife to apply for Steuerklasse 3 (her job is well-paid), or the marriage registration is sufficient and she can apply for the change of tax class already?
    Many thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:53

      Hey Wes. That’s an excellent question. You may want to check with an expert again but i believe you both need to be resident for a tax class change. Source.

      • Reply Wes 20/01/2019 at 12:16

        Many thanks for your reply! I took a look onto the source you suggested, and, as far as I can interpret it, this indeed suggests that my wide CAN apply for Steuerklasse 3 already now, if I’m a tax resident of another EU country (it mentions EU court ruling on something similar) before I declare the tax residence in Germany.
        Anyway, I’ll try checking this with tax expert when I’m in Germany next week but I believe my case is far from unique. Maybe other readers of this thread could share their experience: has anyone had success in getting Steurklasse 3 with her/ his spouse being tax resident of other EU country and not yet registered in Germany?
        BTW, this site totally rocks, Bastien! Great job!

        • Reply Arun 21/01/2020 at 17:29

          Hi Wes and Bastien
          Thank you for the discussion and taking up this unique situation. I am in a similar situation of sort. Do you have any update to share Wes since your last comment, maybe after talking to tax consultant or finance office? I am registered and tax resident in Germany (Non EU passport) and my wife is tax payer and registered in Sweden (Permanent resident but non EU passport). They classified me to tax class 1 for now. My question is can I change my tax class to 3 when my wife is not yet resident in Germany but in Sweden. FYI, I am also a Swedish tax resident (very sure about this) since I spend almost a week in a month with my family in Sweden and then work from home there.

  • Reply Milla 09/01/2019 at 13:25

    Hi Bastien and thank you for your mega useful website, it saved my life so many time in this last year!
    Here the question, I have been working for 8 months now and my Steuer class was the 1 one.
    I only have one job and I am not married but I did a couple of jobs in Nov. and Dec. with a Kurzfristige Beschäftigung contract and now the boss of my main job wrote me that my Steuer class has become the 6th. How can I fix this? Is it possible it is just an error?

    Thank you if you manage to reply to this little question,


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2019 at 13:34

      Hey Milla. That’s strange. Your main job should be class 1, class 6 being the one for additional jobs, like Mini-Jobs. It is quite possibly an error. I would try to clear this out with your employer first, and then with the Finanzamt with that doesn’t work.

  • Reply Ali 29/12/2018 at 22:06

    Hi Bastien, I appreciate your effort writing this complex article.
    My wife has recently started process to get spous visa. It will take her one year to join me here in Germany. I am supporting her financially for her education and living in my home country (non-EU).
    Is it possible if I can register my marriage and change my tax class to 3. Also can i also declare my financial support to my wife?
    Thanks in advacne!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2019 at 15:52

      Hey Ali. I have no official source to back this up but in general from what i have read on forums and comments, it is apparently quite difficult (if not impossible) to prove that your wife would basically starve/die, if you were not supporting her financially. I would put your energy somewhere else for now and wait until your wife is here, when it will be easier to benefit from tax cuts.

  • Reply Patrick 28/12/2018 at 16:01

    Hi Bastien,
    Quick question regarding the Steuerklassen calculator.
    I’ll be working in Berlin from 2019 and so will my wife. Both of our gross yearly incomes will be exactly the same. It should make more sense for us to stay in 4th tax bracket but according to the calculator, Steuerklasse 3/5 would result with a pretty cool tax return (same as 5/3), whereas 4/4 would get us a 0€ refund. Why is that?
    Also, could you please explain what is Steuerklasse 4/4 mit Faktor (1)?


    • Reply Patrick 11/01/2019 at 09:07


      I’d really appreciate your commentary on this.
      Thanks in advance.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/01/2019 at 16:15

        Hey Patrick. Hard to say on such little details. Maybe it’s best to get in touch with a tax consultant on this one?

        • Reply Patrick 14/01/2019 at 08:57


          Will do, thanks!

  • Reply Luca Sergi 28/12/2018 at 10:43

    Hello there, i am new here barely 4 months working in Germany and just got my lohnsteurbescheinigung für 2018 and it says im in class 4. The thing is i am the only one working in the family of two as my wife doesnt have yet a job for now. Am i in class 3/5 or 4/4 mit faktor? Bit really confuse as in Italy i dont have a problem from this. I hope you could enlighten me. thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/12/2018 at 20:47

      Hey Luca. If you think you have been placed in the wrong class, you can apply and change it, since your wife has no income. You are now in tax class 4 it seems.

  • Reply Bala 27/12/2018 at 18:35

    Hallo Greg,

    I am a EU Blue card holder.with tax class III (my family is on a dependent visa with me here in Munich for the last 2 years). If they stay out of Germany for more than 6 months, i suppose their visa gets cancelled.
    In that case, should i change my tax class to I?
    If i need to change it, when should i do it? From the month their dependent visa gets cancelled or from the month they left Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/12/2018 at 21:12

      Hey Bala. I would guess from the moment they leave Germany…

  • Reply MANOJ KUMAR MOHAPATRO 23/12/2018 at 09:56

    Hi ,

    Currently i am in Tax category 1, My wife received her family reunion visa recently, I have heard from one of my colleagues that if they will enter Germany on the same year and do the city registration the tax category will change for the whole year. Although they will enter the country on the same year i cannot do the city registration because of Christmas holidays. In this case am I applicable for the tax class change ??

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/12/2018 at 20:53

      Hey Manok. Well, if we follow that logic, i suppose the answer is no.

  • Reply Ioannis 21/12/2018 at 16:56

    Thank you very much for the article. It was very helpful. I am an employee and my husband was until the end of 2017 a freelancer. He was only an employee the full 2018.
    I made over 60% of our income in 2018.
    So we would benefit from the tax class change enormously.(3/5)

    If he has not closed tax wise his freelancing past year, can we declare joint income for 2018 and apply for the tax class change for 2018?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/12/2018 at 22:25

      Hey Ioannis. Don’t really get it: his taxes for 2017 as a freelancer should have been submitted at the end of may 2018, unless you applied for an extension via a Steuerberater until 31st of December… And both events are not really linked anyway. You can decide to do a joint declaration for 2018 and apply for a tax change too. That tax change will come into effect after submitting an application though.

      • Reply Ioannis 24/12/2018 at 07:37

        Hi Bastien. Thank you for your reply.

        His 2017 year has not been closed. He applied for an extension for his 2017 year and he can postpone it for another 6 months.

        1. Year 2018: Can I apply for a tax class change retroactively from Tax Class 1 to tax class 3(. He will apply from tax class 1 to tax class 5)) ? ( even though he has not closed his financial year 2017?)

        2.Can we make separate declarations with choosing tax class 3/5? Or do we have to make a joint one to take advantage of the tax class 3/5?

        Thank you in advance and have a great holiday season!

        Kind Regards,


        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/12/2018 at 21:05

          1. It seems that it would only be possible for an application before 30/11 of that year. So too late for 2018 and 2017. Source.
          2. You still have the choice to both depending on what’s best optimized. You will still see the impact on your monthly pay slip either way after the application.

  • Reply Abhishek 13/12/2018 at 07:22

    I will be moving to Berlin in 2019 and have received an offer of employment. I have a permanent contract for highly skilled employment and my compensation is 70000.
    My wife is not working and will accompany me on dependent visa. Could you please assist me on the tax class in Berlin and my net salary based on that. It will help me in taking an informed decision.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/12/2018 at 09:32

      Hey Abhishek. Congrats on the job. If you want to find out how your net salary will look like, you can use the small simulator i linked to in the end of the post.

  • Reply Amanda 06/12/2018 at 10:31

    I have recently quit my job, and will found my own company at the beginning of next year. Currently my husband and I are both class 4. Does it make sense to switch now to 3/5 as I have no income (except unemployment), and will have a very low income once I start the company in 2019?

    Also can I switch to 3/5 after I do the Gewerbe-Anmeldung? or only before I submit?
    Thanks in advance for the help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/12/2018 at 21:25

      Hey Amanda. Hard to answer without knowing how much you both earns. You can use the simulator i linked to at the end of the post to get an idea if it’s worth it or not. You can change tax class when you want, provided it makes sense.

  • Reply Bikash 29/11/2018 at 09:46

    Hi ,

    have few queries on tax class .

    1) Could you please let me know the address where I need send the “Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten”
    2)My wife is recently out of station and may need sometime to return, So in that case does scan copy of signature will do the job .

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2018 at 09:39

      Hey Bikash. you need to send the form to your Finanzamt. How you obtain the signature onto that document is completely up to you.

  • Reply Alen Cerimagic 22/11/2018 at 11:38

    for my first salary I did not provide my tax informations. I have just arrived and register so I did not provide tax informations to my company on the time. My question is, by default in which category I belong?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2018 at 15:05

      Hey Alen. Can’t possibly say without knowing your marital status.

  • Reply Kamal 31/10/2018 at 22:02

    How to send to Finanzamt? By post or email or go directly nearest finanzamt without appointment?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/11/2018 at 11:08

      Hey Kamal. Best per post or you can also drop the documents off there directly.

  • Reply Venkat 13/10/2018 at 21:20

    Hi There,

    I am living in US but an Indian citizen, I got an offer from German employer based at Berlin and my gross is 70.000 Euros per annum. Could you please let me know what is the tax slab for me, finding this info is very hard, searching of living expenses and understanding net salary.

    Also I want to understand couple of more things,
    1) what is the best visa – Work Visa or Blue card?
    2) After availing the Visa if I decide to postpone my plan to join my employer/ employer withdraws the offer, Can I still use this visa with any other employer?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2018 at 11:16

      Hey Venkat. I have written a post about income tax this way, salary in Berlin this way. 1) Can’t reply. Depends on your plans and your profile. 2) No. employment visa is tied to one employer/one job offer.

  • Reply Greg Beazley 24/09/2018 at 16:07

    This has been by far the most helpful article I managed to find online about this topic. Also the links to the calculator were really helpful too. Thank you!

    • Reply karan malhotra 25/11/2018 at 14:48

      Hi Greg,

      Could you share the links to the calculator please

      • Reply Laura 18/01/2019 at 03:48

        Karann I am using this calculator:

      • Reply Matthew 23/04/2019 at 10:21

        Hi! We lived in Germany since August 2018. I am Canadian and my spouse is German. I had income in 2018 from Canada as does my spouse (who is a permanent resident of Canada). My spouse has 3 months of income here in Germany in 2018 but I am not working here. We will be filing a tax return in Canada for 2018 and including documents that report the three months of foreign income as well as taxes taken from that pay in Germany. My question is whether or not a German tax return also has to be completed since it will be reported in the Canadian return. I am also assuming that if a German return has to be completed that I do not need to report my Canadian earnings in Germany (as I will be taxed in Canada). If both returns must be completed my concern is that will we be overtaxed.

        Thank you!

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:07

          Hey Matthew. have you seen this post?

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