German Church Tax

As U.S. citizens we are aware of the types of taxes that we may be obligated to pay. Other countries have different types of taxes that differ from those in the U.S.. For instance, Germany has a church tax that is authorized by the German constitution and is used to benefit and support recognized churches in Germany.

If you are moving to Germany to work, it is a requirement to register with the local tax authorities. To determine tax withholding the employer’s payroll department will have each employee fill out a tax card, called a Lohnsteuerkarte.

On the tax card there is a place where you can designate a religious affiliation. If a qualified religion is indicated, the person is automatically subject to a church tax called Kirchensteuer.

The church tax rate is 8% or 9% of the employee’s total annual income tax depending on what state the employee resides in.

Generally, church tax is collected along with the income tax by the tax office, and can be taken as a deduction in the determination of taxable income for tax filing purposes.

It is possible to not pay church tax. To legally avoid paying it, the taxpayer needs to present written evidence confirmed by a court indicating that they have withdrawn from the church. If this is done, the taxpayer will not be able to utilize any of the services of the church, for such things as a church marriage, burial, or baptism.

TOPIC: Cultural Differences, Global Payroll
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