Taxes and tax returns in Germany are not always easy to understand. Therefore, we have compiled a brief overview of the most important information for you. More detailed information and individual advice can be found on the website of Vereinigte Lohnsteuerhilfe.
Your tax identification number (Tax ID, Steueridentifikationsnummer) only applies to income tax and is required, for example, when you start an employment relationship, for notifications to tax authorities, for certain applications and for your tax return. You will receive your tax ID (Tax Identification Number or TIN) by mail from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern (Federal Central Tax Office) after registering with the Bürgeramt.
Income tax is automatically deducted from your gross salary each month. The tax rate depends on the amount of the salary and the marital status. If both spouses in a household have taxable income, certain combinations of tax classes may be appropriate. Every year, an income tax return (“Lohnsteuerjahresausgleich”) must be submitted to the tax office. In this process, all income from the previous year (e.g. also interest and rental income) is offset against the taxes paid to date. There are also so-called “allowances” and many other ways to “deduct” expenses from taxes. In some cases, you get money back from the tax office.
Church tax is paid by members of the Catholic and Protestant churches, and Jewish community members pay cultural tax. No tax is levied for all other religious communities.