rechte, zweite Spalte

Church / Ecclesiastical Tax

A unique feature of the German tax system is the church tax imposed by the varying legislation of the German states on members of the Roman Catholic Church, of most of the various Protestant Churches, and of some of the Jewish parishes, and having their residence in Germany, irrespective of their nationality. The tax rate is 9% or 8% of the finally assessed income tax, depending on the German land where the individual is living. in some German states, the local parish is entitled to other or to additional contributions i.e. the stall fee ("Stuhlgeld") or a parish fee directly imposed by the individual parish. In some dioceses and parishes, the tax rate is reduced to 4% / 3,5% / 3% of the taxable income, depending on the individual diocese or parish. This reduction must specifically be applied for at the local Bishop who will grant a refund. In all cases, the church tax paid in one year is admitted as a deductible expense for income tax purposes, of the same year.

As a rule, the church tax is assessed and collected by the local tax authority, together with the income tax; if applicable, the church tax is deducted in the same way as the wage tax. Special problems arise in cases of jointly assessed married tax payers when the spouse does not adhere to any church at all, or to a different church.

Because of the great number of churches, the great number of slightly varying legislation in the German Länder, and the relatively small burden, more details should be discussed in individual cases.

However, it must be clearly stated that the deliberate avoidance of the church tax is a criminal offence that is prosecuted as any other tax fraud. A world wide net of information between parishes is established to keep trace of the individual believer.

The payment of the church tax has quite successfully been avoided by not informing your current parish of your new residence in Germany, and by just not indicating your religious belief when registering with the local town council your new residence in Germany. The only legal way to avoid church tax is to quit your church, by unilateral, formal declaration; although a notarial deed is in most German Länder admitted, there exist other requirements in some of the Länder or churches.