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Tax rates in Germany

Tax Rates

Consumption Taxes

Nature of the Tax
Value Added Tax (VAT), also refered to as Umsatzsteuer (USt) or Mehrwertsteuer (MwSt).
Tax Rate
Reduced Tax Rate
A reduced rate of 7% applies to e-books and e-newspapers; cultural services; food; passenger transport (under certain conditions); agricultural products; and hotel stays. For the period from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2024, the reduced rate also applies to the supply of gas via the natural gas network and the supply of heat via a heating network.
Intra-EU supplies, exports to non-EU countries, and cross-border transport of goods to and from non-EU countries are generally zero-rated.
Other Consumption Taxes
Germany levies several environmental taxes, including those on mineral oil, gas, coal and electricity. A motor vehicle tax is imposed on the ownership of motor vehicles.
General insurance premiums also incur a 19% tax.
Excise duties apply on fuel, electric power, alcoholic products and tobacco.
There are no stamp duties in Germany (except for the real estate transfer tax).

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Corporate Taxes

Company Tax
Standard rate is 15% (15.825% including a 5.5% solidarity surcharge). Effective rate including trade tax (assessed independently by each municipality from 7% to 17%) is estimated at about 30-33%
Tax Rate For Foreign Companies
There is no distinction between German companies and foreign companies. Non-resident companies are only taxed on their Germany-sourced income, while resident companies are taxed on their worldwide income.
Both corporation tax and trade tax are imposed on the taxable income of a foreign company's German branch.
Capital Gains Taxation
Capital gains are typically taxed at the same rate as ordinary income at 15% (or 15.825% with the solidarity surcharge). A 95% tax exemption (a 100% exemption with a 5% add-back as a non-deductible business expense) applies to the sale of shares by a company, regardless of how long the participation in the subsidiary has been held. Such an exemption does not apply to banks, financial institutions and finance companies, life or health insurance companies and pension funds.
Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits

In general, all expenses incurred in the course of business operations are deductible. Germany offers unilateral tax relief, allowing companies to credit foreign taxes paid up to the amount that is subject to domestic tax or to deduct foreign tax as a business expense. Net operating losses up to EUR 1 million can be carried back one year for corporation tax (for losses incurred between 2020-2023 the limit has been increased to EUR 10 million, in response to the COVID-19 crisis), but this provision does not apply to trade tax. Losses may be carried forward indefinitely up to EUR 1 million plus 60% of current income exceeding that amount. For net operating losses exceeding EUR 1 million, at least 40% of the taxable income is subject to taxation ("minimum taxation" principle). Deduction of net interest expense is generally limited to 30% tax EBITDA.

Start-up and formation expenses are deductible. Bad debts incurred on business activity with unrelated parties are deductible if it is apparent that they are irrecoverable and all attempts to pursue the debt have failed or been abandoned.

Donations to charity organizations that respect certain parameters, whether in cash or in kind, are deductible up to the higher of 20% of otherwise net taxable income or 0.4% of the total of sales revenue and wages and salaries paid during the year.

Paid taxes are deductible, except for corporation tax, trade tax, and the VAT on most non-deductible expenses. Fines and penalties are not deductible. The deductibility of certain royalty payments to related parties has limitations. Payments to foreign affiliates can be deducted, provided the amounts are at "arm’s length".

According to the German Research Allowance Act (Forschungszulagengesetz), a tax-free subsidy of 25% of salaries and wages for certain R&D purposes shall be guaranteed up to a limit of EUR 500,000/year (until 30 June 2026).

The straight-line method is used to calculate depreciation for both movable and fixed assets, based on the asset's estimated useful life. A depreciation table (AfA-Tabelle) established by the Federal Ministry of Finance provides the specific depreciation period for each asset. Assets with a net value below EUR 800 can be fully depreciated right away. For movable assets acquired or produced between 2020 and 2022, a temporary accelerated depreciation method utilizing the declining balance approach has been introduced. The depreciation factor applicable under this method can reach up to 2.5 times the current depreciation rates but is limited to 25% annually.

Other Corporate Taxes
A municipal trade tax is levied by municipalities at a minimum rate of 7% (averages between 14% and 17% of income).
A tax on property is levied by local authorities at a rate of 0.35% of the tax value of the property, multiplied by a municipal coefficient. A real estate transfer tax applies with rates varying between 3.5-6.5%, including on indirect transfers from the acquisition of at least 90% of the shares in property-owning companies.
Employers are liable for social security contributions, as follows:

- Pension insurance: 9.3%
- Unemployment insurance: 1.23%
- Health insurance: 7.3% (the health funds may levy a supplement of 1.6% on average)
- Invalidity insurance: 1.525% (with a surcharge of 0.35% for employees without children)
The upper monthly salary limit varies according to the region (EUR 7,300 in 2023 in the western part of Germany and EUR 7,100 in 2023 in the eastern part of Germany for the pension and unemployment insurance and EUR 4,987.50 for the health and invalidity insurance).

Other Domestic Resources
Federal Central Tax Office

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Germany OECD United States
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 9.0 10.1 10.6
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 218.0 163.6 175.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 48.8 41.6 36.6

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data.

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Individual Taxes

Tax Rate

Personal Income Tax for single taxpayers Progressive rate from 14% to 45%
From EUR 0 to EUR 10,908 0%
From EUR 10,909 to EUR 62,810 Geometrically progressive rates between 14% and 42%
From EUR 62,810 to EUR 277,825 42%
Above EUR 277,826 45%
Personal Income Tax for married taxpayers
From EUR 0 to EUR 19,968 0%
From EUR 19,969 to EUR 117,192 Geometrically progressive rates between 14% and 42%
From EUR 117,193 to EUR 555,651 42%
Above EUR 555,652 45%
Solidarity Contribution is added as a mandatory surcharge 5.5% of the amount of the income tax
No solidarity surcharge is levied any longer for individuals filing separately and having an income tax burden up to EUR 17,543, and for married filing jointly taxpayers with an income tax burden of up to EUR 35,086.
If the aforementioned thresholds are exceeded, a sliding scale is applied
Church Tax (applicable to resident members of certain officially recognised German churches) 8 or 9% of the annual income tax liability. It varies according to the district of residence
Trade Income Tax
(levied on business income)
For individuals and partnerships a tax-free amount of EUR 24,500 generally applies
Each municipality is responsible for the final tax assessment
Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
Statutory pension contributions (under certain limits), certain private insurance contributions, education (30% of tuition fees, excluding housing, care, and food; capped at EUR 5,000 per year/child) and training expenses, alimony (capped at EUR 13,805), donations (up to 20% of adjusted gross income), and church tax are deductible. Additionally, resident taxpayers are granted personal allowances, as follows:
Employee's allowance EUR 1,230; Investor's allowance (for interest, dividends, and capital gains) EUR 801; Lump-sum special expense deduction EUR 36; Child allowance (per child registered in Germany and per parent) EUR 4,274.
The monthly exemption limit for non-cash benefits (i.e. job tickets, merchandise, gas vouchers, etc.) is EUR 50. If the value of these benefits exceeds the exemption limit, the entire amount is subject to tax.

Actual expenses for child care can be deducted up to a maximum of EUR 4,000 per year/child (for children under 14 years or for handicapped children).

Deductions are provided for parents and children with low income (documentary evidence of low income is required), up to EUR 9,984; and for children older than 18 who are being educated in Germany or certain foreign countries, up to EUR 924 per year. A lump-sum deduction of EUR 36 for a single person or EUR 72 for married couples is provided without the need for proof.
Employees working from home who don’t have a separate office room in their home can claim a flat rate of EUR 6 per day spent working from home and entrepreneurs can claim this lump sum as a business expense (capped at EUR 1,260/year).

Losses not offset in the year in which they occur can either be carried back to the previous year up to EUR 1,000,000 (increased to EUR 10,000,000 for 2020, 2021, and 2022 in response to the COVID-19 crisis) or carried forward indefinitely.

Special Expatriate Tax Regime
Income tax is payable by German resident individuals on their worldwide income. Non-resident individuals are only required to pay taxes on German-sourced income.
There is no specific tax regime for expatriates in Germany. However, the country has signed double taxation agreements with many countries in the world. For more information refer to the Ministry of Finance.

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Double Taxation Treaties

Countries With Whom a Double Taxation Treaty Have Been Signed
Federal Ministry of Finance
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 25% (26.375% with solidary surcharge)
Interest: 0/25% (26.375%, including the solidarity surcharge; generally only interests on publicly traded debt, interest received through a German payment agent, convertible bonds, and certain profit-participating loans)
Royalties: 0 for residents/15% for non-residents (15.825% with solidarity surcharge)

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Latest Update: April 2024