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This chapter includes data on the income taxes paid by workers, their social security contributions, the family benefits they receive in the form of cash transfers as well as the social security contributions and payroll taxes paid by their employers. Results reported include the marginal and average tax burden for eight different family types.

Methodological information is available for personal income tax systems, compulsory social security contributions to schemes operated within the government sector, universal cash transfers as well as recent changes in the tax/benefit system. The methodology also includes the parameter values and tax equations underlying the data.

    
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The national currency is the Euro (EUR). In 2019, EUR 0.89 was equal to USD 1. The average worker earned EUR 52 185 (Secretariat estimate).

copy the linklink copied!1. Personal Income Tax Systems

1.1. Central/federal government income taxes

1.1.1. Tax unit

Spouses may choose between two options: Joint assessment or individual assessment. The vast majority of couples benefits financially from the joint assessment by minimizing the tax burden of the household. The income of dependent children is not assessable with that of the parents. The calculations in this Report are therefore based on the assumption of joint taxation for spouses.

1.1.2. Tax allowances and tax credits:

1.1.2.1. Standard reliefs and work related expenses

  • Basic reliefs: None.

  • Standard marital status reliefs: In the case of joint assessment, specific allowances are doubled. The income tax liability for spouses who are assessed jointly is computed as follows:

  • Splitting method:

    • First step: Calculating the tax base: All incomes of the spouses are summed up and the sum is divided by two.

    • Second step: The tax rate is applied to this tax base.

    • Third step: The amount calculated in step 2 is doubled.

Results: Given the progressive income taxation the resulting tax liability for the household is lower than the sum of individual taxation. The household as a unit benefits from this solution otherwise both parts of the couple would opt out. Principal and second earners have the same average and marginal income tax rates.

The splitting effect decreases by increasing convergence of the incomes of principal earner and the spouse.

  • Relief(s) for children: In 2019, there are increased tax credits of EUR 2 388 for the first and the second child, of EUR 2 460 for the third child and of EUR 2 760 for the fourth and subsequent children. There is a tax allowance of EUR 2 490 for the subsistence of a child and an additional EUR 1 320 for minding and education or training needs (EUR 3 810). The amount of this allowance is doubled in case of jointly assessed parents. If the value of the tax credit is less than the relief calculated applying the tax allowances, the taxpayer obtains the tax allowance instead of the tax credit. It is also doubled for lone parents in cases where the other parent does not pay alimony. This is the assumption in the calculations presented in this Report.

  • Relief for lone parents: As of 1 January 2015, taxpayers who live alone with at least one child that entitles them to the tax allowances or tax credits for children, receive an additional allowance of EUR 1 908 (formerly EUR 1 308). This additional allowance is increased by EUR 240 for each child in case of more than one child living in the household.

  • Reliefs for social security contributions and life insurance contributions: Social security contributions and other expenses incurred in provision for the future (e.g. life insurance) are deductible up to specific ceilings. In 2005, a new calculation scheme came into force:

    • Step 1: all contributions made to pension funds (i.e. both employee’s and employer’s contributions) are added up. Step 2: the resulting amount is limited to EUR 20 000. Step 3: a certain percentage is applied to this amount (starting from 60% in 2005, this percentage will be increased by 2 percentage points each year; it will reach 100% in 2025). Step 4: the resulting amount, diminished by the (tax-free) contributions of the employer, is deductible from income.

    • The tax treatment of social security expenses (health, unemployment and care insurance) changed as of 1 January 2010. Employees’ annual contributions to statutory health insurance excluding sickness benefit (assumed to amount to 96% of statutory health contributions) and employees’ contributions to mandatory long-term care insurance are deductible from the tax base. In case these contributions do not exceed EUR 1 900/3 800 (single/married couples), contributions to unemployment insurance and other insurances premiums can be deducted in addition up to this ceiling.

    • If the resulting sum of deductible amounts according the legislation in force since 2005 is lower than the allowance calculated under the scheme that was valid up to 2004, the former regulations are applied in favour of the taxpayer (for more details on the old scheme: see 2005 edition and section 4. of this Report).

  • Work related expenses: EUR 1 000 lump sum allowance per gainfully employed person.

  • Special expenses: Lump sum allowance (EUR 36/72 (singles/couples)) for special expenses, e.g. for tax accountancy. The actual expenses will be fully deductible from taxable income if the taxpayer proves that these expenses exceed the lump sum allowance.

1.1.2.2. Main non-standard tax reliefs applicable to an AW

  • Contributions to pensions, life insurance, superannuation schemes: Other expenses than the compulsory contributions to social security are deductible as reliefs for (voluntary) social security contributions up to specific ceilings (see section 1.1.2.1.).

  • Medical expenses: Partially deductible if not covered by insurance.

  • Other: Work related expenses that exceed the lump-sum allowance are fully deductible (no ceiling).

1.1.3. Tax schedule

The German tax schedule is formula based. Taxable income is rounded down (to the EUR).

  • X is the taxable income,

  • T is the income tax liability,

  • As of 1 January 2019 the following definitions are used in the income tax liability formulas:

    Y = X     9   168   10   000

    Z = X   14   254   10   000

The income tax liability (amounts in EUR) is calculated as follows:

1. T = 0   f o r   X       9   168  

2. T = 980.14     Y   +   1   400 Y   f o r     9   169     X   14   254  

3. T = 216.16     Z   +   2   397 Z   +   965.58     f o r   14   255     X   55   960

4. T = 0.42   X -   8   780.90     f o r   55   961     X 265   326

5. T = 0.45   X - 16   740.68     f o r     265   327   X

These formulas are used to calculate the income tax for single individuals and married couples too.

If families choose the option of being assessed separately these formulas are applied to the individual taxable income of the principal earner and the spouse. In the case of jointly assessed families these rates are applied to half of the joint taxable income (see point 1.1.2.1. Splitting method).

1.1.4. Solidarity surcharge

The solidarity surcharge is levied at 5.5% of the income tax liability subject to an exemption limit of EUR 972/1 944 (singles/couples). The income tax liability is calculated applying the tax allowance for children. If the income tax liability exceeds the exemption limit, the solidarity surcharge will be phased in at a higher rate of 20% of the difference between the income tax liability and the exemption limit until it equals 5.5% of the total liability.

1.2. State and local income taxes

None.

copy the linklink copied!2. Compulsory Social Security Contributions to Schemes Operated Within the Government Sector

The amount of social security contributions depends on the wage and the insurance contribution rate. All contributions are subject to a contribution ceiling, i.e. the maximum income for which statutory insurance contributions are calculated. The contribution rates for pension, health, care and unemployment insurances are fixed by the government.

2.1. Employees’ contributions

In general, earnings up to EUR 4 800 per year were free of employee social security contributions until 31 December 2012. As of 1 January 2013, some essential changes came into effect concerning minimally paid employment. The earnings limit increased from EUR 400 to EUR 450 per month. Persons whose mini-job started before 2013 and do not exceed the previous earnings limit of EUR 400 stay contribution-free in all classes of social insurance. Otherwise, persons who take up a new mini-job are generally subject to mandatory insurance coverage in the statutory pension scheme with the full pension contribution rate of 18.6% (in 2019). If the earnings are below the amount of EUR 175 (minimum contribution limit), a minimum contribution of EUR 32.55 has to be paid (18.6% of EUR 175). The employer’s share amounts to 15% of the whole pay whereas the employee’s part adds up to 3.6% (or the difference between minimum contribution and employer share). By applying for an exemption from obligatory insurance coverage the mini-job holder may reduce his share to EUR 0.

As of 1 April 2003, there was an additional concession for employees with monthly income between EUR 400.01 and EUR 800 per month (the so-called ‘sliding pay scale’, EUR 4 800.12 and EUR 9 600 per year). Due to the new regulations mentioned above the earnings limits shifted to EUR 450.01 and EUR 850.00 per month (EUR 5 400.12 and EUR 10 200 per year). As of 1 July 2019, provisions for the newly-created so-called ‘transition band’ will extend the upper earnings limit from EUR 850 per month to EUR 1 300 per month (EUR 15 600 per year). If the employee’s income falls within this range, part of the income will be exempt from social insurance contributions. However, employers are still required to pay the regular contributions on the employee’s earnings. The arrangement is purely intended to relieve the financial burden on employees. The employees’ contributions to social insurance rise on a straight-line basis over the income band reaching the full rate at EUR 850 per month (EUR 1 300 per month as of 1 July 2019). Within the ‘transition band’, employees’ reduced contribution rates to statutory pension insurance will not minimise their pension entitlements any more. Details on social security contributions for workers earning more than EUR10 200 per year (as of 1 July 2019 EUR 12 900 in 2019 only) are provided below.

2.1.1. Pensions

Employers and employees pay each half of the contribution rate of 18.6% in 2019, that is 9.3% of the employee’s gross wage earnings, up to a contribution ceiling of EUR 80 400.

2.1.2. Sickness

As of 1 January 2015, the applicable contribution rate is 14.6% on principle (portion of 7.3% for employers and employees). Depending on the financial situation of each sickness fund, employees only were obliged to pay a supplementary contribution to the sickness fund until December 2018. Since January 2019, employees and employers have been required to pay part of this supplementary contribution which amounts to 0.9% on average (portion of 0.45% for employers and employees). Therefore, the contribution rate averages 7.75% for employees and employers in 2019. The contribution ceiling in 2019 is EUR 54 450. While all calculations shown in this Report assume membership in the public health insurance, workers with earnings above the contribution ceiling may opt out of the mandatory public health insurance system and may choose a private insurance provider instead (those opting for a private health insurance provider are required to obtain private long-term care insurance as well).

2.1.3. Unemployment

Employees pay half of the insurance contributions; the employer pays the other half. In 2019, the contribution rate is 2.5% of assessable income. Employee and employer each pay 1.25%. The contribution ceiling is EUR 80 400.

2.1.4. Care

A long-term care insurance (a 1% contribution rate) went into effect on 1 January 1995. The rate was raised to 1.7% of the gross wage when home nursing care benefits were added six months later. As of 1 July 2008, the rate was increased to 1.95%. In 2013 and 2014, the contribution rate amounted to 2.05%. In 2015 and 2016, the contribution rate added up to 2.35%. As of 1 January 2017, the contribution rate was augmented to 2.55%. In 2019, the contribution rate amounts to 3.05%.The employers pay half of the contributions for long-term care insurance. In other words, employers and employees both pay a rate of 1.525%. The assessable income is scaled according to the gross wage earnings but there is a contribution ceiling of EUR 54 450 in 2019.

As from 1 January 2005, child-raising is given special recognition in the law relating to statutory long-term care insurance. Childless contribution payers are required to pay a supplement of 0.25%, raising the contribution rate paid by a childless employee from 0.975% to 1.225% as of 1 July 2008. In 2013 and 2014, the contribution rate of a childless employee added up to 1.275%. In 2015 and 2016, the contribution rate amounted to 1.425% for a childless employee. As of 1 January 2017, the contribution rate was raised to 1.525% for a childless employee. In 2019, a childless employee has to pay a contribution rate of 1.775%.

2.1.5. Work injury

Employer only.

2.1.6. Family allowances

None.

2.1.7. Others

None.

2.2. Employers’ contributions

See Section 2.1.

2.2.1. Pensions, sickness, unemployment, care:

See Section 2.1.

2.2.2. Work injury

Germany has established a statutory occupational accident insurance. It is provided by industrial, agricultural and public-sector employers’ liability insurance funds. This insurance protects employees and their families against the consequences of accidents at work and occupational illnesses. It is funded through the contributions paid by employers only. The amount of the employer’s contributions depends on the sum total of employee’s annual pay and the employer’s respective hazard level. As it is not possible to identify a representative contribution rate, these amounts are not considered in this Report.

2.2.3. Family allowances

None.

2.2.4. Others

None.

copy the linklink copied!3. Universal Cash Transfers

3.1. Transfers related to marital status

None.

3.2. Transfers for dependent children

None.

copy the linklink copied!4. Main Changes in Tax/Benefit Systems Since 1997

The following table shows changes in the tax credit and the tax allowance for children since 1997:

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Year

 

Child credit

Child allowance

First child

Second child

Third child

Fourth and subsequent children

1997

1 350

1 350

1 841

2 147

3 534

1999

1 534

1 534

1 841

2 147

3 534

2000

1 657

1 657

1 841

2 147

5 080

2002

1 848

1 848

1 848

2 148

5 808

2009*

1 968

1 968

2 040

2 340

6 024

2010

2 208

2 208

2 280

2 580

7 008

2015

2 256

2 256

2 328

2 628

7 152

2016

2 280

2 280

2 352

2 652

7 248

2017

2 304

2 304

2 376

2 676

7 356

2018

2 328

2 328

2 400

2 700

7 428

2019

2 388

2 388

2 460

2 760

7 620

* plus EUR 100 one-off child credit payment for each child.

Up to 2004, the calculation of the relief for social security contributions and other expenses proceeded in three steps. First, EUR 3 068/6 136 (singles/couples) was deducted. These amounts were, however, lowered by 16% of gross wages (serving as a proxy for employers’ social security contributions). This deduction was provided as a partial compensation for the self-employed who do not receive tax-free employers’ social security contributions. Second, the remaining expenses were deductible up to EUR 1 334/2 668 (singles/couples). Third, half of the remaining expenses were deductible up to EUR 667/1 334 (singles/couples).

In 2004, the tax rate was reduced and the formula for calculating the income tax was changed. The relief for lone parents was reduced to EUR 1 308, the lump sum allowance for work related expenses was reduced to EUR 920.

As from 1 January 2005, the final stage of the 2000-tax reform came into effect. The bottom and top income tax rates were further reduced to 15% and 42%. Since 1998, both the bottom and top income tax rate have been reduced by about 11 percentage points while the personal allowance has been raised from EUR 6 322 to EUR 7 664. The tax cuts reduce the tax burden for all income taxpayers, affording the greatest relief to employees and families with low and medium incomes as well as to small- and medium-sized unincorporated businesses.

On 1 January 2005, the law regulating the taxation of pensions and pension expenses entered into force. The law provides a gradual transition to ex-post taxation of pensions paid by the statutory pensions insurance. In the long run, the tax treatment of capital-based employee pension schemes based on a contract between employer and employee will be reformed in the same way as the tax treatment in respect of the state pension scheme. In addition to the increased deductibility of contributions to the state and certain private pension schemes, the law contains rules which are intended to increase the attractiveness of private capital-based pension schemes and to encourage individuals to invest privately for their old-age pension.

Up to 30 June of 2005, employees paid half of the sickness insurance contributions; the employer paid the other half. As from 1 July 2005, members of the statutory health insurance scheme also pay an income-linked contribution of 0.9% to which employers do not contribute. As from 1 July 2005, all statutory health insurance funds have reduced their contribution rates by 0.9 percentage points.

In 2007, a new top income tax rate of 45% was introduced for taxable income above EUR 250 000 (EUR 500 000 for jointly assessed spouses).

In 2009, the bottom income tax rate was reduced to 14%. The basic allowance was increased to EUR 7 834. All thresholds were increased by EUR 400.

Since 1 January 2010, the basic allowance has been augmented to EUR 8 004 and all thresholds have been increased by EUR 330. Furthermore, new legislation improves the tax treatment of expenditure on health insurance and long-term care insurance. As of 1 January 2013, the basic allowance rose to EUR 8 130. As of 1 January 2014, the basic allowance was increased to EUR 8 354. As of 1 January 2015, the basic allowance amounted to EUR 8 472. The relief for lone parents adds up to EUR 1 908. Lone parents are entitled to an extra allowance of EUR 240 for the second and each subsequent child. Since 1 January 2016, the basic allowance has been risen to EUR 8 652. As of 1 January 2017, the basic allowance was enhanced to EUR 8 820. Since 1 January 2018, the basic allowance has been augmented to EUR 9 000. As of 1 January 2019, the basic allowance was raised to EUR 9 168.

copy the linklink copied!5. Memorandum Items

5.1. Average gross annual earnings calculation

  • Source of calculation: Federal Statistical Office.

  • Excluding sickness and unemployment, including normal overtime and bonuses.

5.2. Employer’s contributions to private pension, etc. schemes

No information available, though such schemes do exist.

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2019 Parameter values

Average earnings/yr

Ave_earn

52 185

Secretariat estimate

Tax allowances

Child_al

7 620

Lone Parents, first child

Lone_al

1 908

Lone parents, subsequent child

Lone_al_add

240

Work related

Work_rel_al

1 000

SSC allowance

SSC_dn

300

SSC_dn_rt

0.16

SSC_dn_lim

1 334

SSC_dn_lump_rt

0.2

Allow. for special expenses

SE_al

36

Church tax rate

Ch_tax_rt

0

Tax formula

Tax_rate2

0.42

Tax_rate3

0.45

Tax_thrsh1

9 168

Tax_thrsh2

14 254

Top Rate Tax Reduction

Reduction

8 780.90

Reduction2

16 740.68

Tax Equation Rates

tax_eqn_rates

Squared

Single

Constant

z

216.16

2 397

965.58

y

980.14

1 400

0

Income tax rate stage

tax_first_stage

9 168

tax_second_stage

14 254

tax_third_stage

55 960

tax_fourth_stage

265 326

Solidarity Surcharge

surcharge

0.055

Solidarity Exemption Limit

surcharge_limit

972

Alternative Surcharge Rate

surcharge_alt

0.2

Child credit

Ch_cred

1. ch.

2 388

2. ch.

2 388

3.ch.

2 460

4.ch.

2 760

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2019 Parameter values

social security

Sickness

Pension

Unemployment

Care

Alternative employer rate

SSC Factor F

period_1

12

12

12

12

12

12

period_2

0

0

0

0

sum (Month's)

12

12

12

12

12

12

employer_1

0.0775

0.093

0.0125

0.01525

0.3

0.7566

employer_2

0

0

0

0

employee_1

0.0775

0.093

0.0125

0.01525

0.036

0.7566

employee_2

0

0

0

0

childless_1

0.0775

0.093

0.0125

0.01775

0.036

0.7566

childless_2

0

0

0

0

ceil

54 450

80 400

80 400

54 450

2 100

SSC Floor

SSC_floor

12 900

Intermediate SSC Ceiling

SSC_floor1

5 400

2019 Tax equations

The equations for the German system in 2019 are mostly calculated on a family basis.

The standard functions which are used in the equations are described in the technical note about tax equations. The function acttax carries out a rounded calculation for the tables but the unrounded version purtax is used in calculating the marginal rates.

For a taxpayer with children, either the child allowance is given in the tax calculation or the cash transfer is given if this is more beneficial. In practice, therefore, it is necessary to make two calculations - with and without the child allowance. Nevertheless, the calculation of solidarity surcharge is always based on the calculation which does assume that the child tax allowance is given.

Variable names are defined in the table of parameters above, within the equations table, or are the standard variables “married” and “children”. The affixes “_princ” and “_spouse” on Variable names in functions indicate that the values have to be calculated for the principal and spouse, respectively. The parameter year in function SSC_Allowance is the year for which you calculate the Allowance.

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Line in country table and intermediate steps

Variable name

Range

Equation

1.

Earnings

earn

Quotient for tax calculation

quotient

J

1+Married

2.

Allowances:

Children

children_al

J

Children*Child_al

Lone parent

lone_allce

J

Children>0)*(Married=0)*Lone_al+(Children>0)*(Married=0)*(Children-1)*Lone_al_add

Soc sec contributions

SSC_al

J

Function: SSC_Allowance(earn_princ, earn_spouse , SSC_princ + SSC_spouse , Quotient, SSC_dn, SSC_dn_rt, SSC_dn_lim, SSC_dn_lump_rt, If(Children>0; "employee"; "childless"), year, rounded)

Work related

work_al

J

Work_rel_al+MIN(earn_spouse,Work_rel_al)

Allow. for special expenses

SE_al

J

SE_al*quotient

Total

tax_al

J

children_al+SSC_al+work_al+ lone_allce + SE_al

3.

Credits in taxable income

taxbl_cr

J

0

4.

CG taxable income

tax_inc

J

earn-tax_al

5.

CG tax before credits

adjusted taxable income

adj

J

tax_inc/quotient

Formula based tax schedule

tax_formula

J

Function: acttax(taxinc, rate, reduction, threshold1, threshold2, threshold3, equationrate, tax_first_stage, tax_second_stage, tax_third_stage, tax_fourth_stage, rate2, reduction2)

Adjust for the quotient

tax_adj

J

Quotient*tax_formula

Include solidarity surcharge

sol_surch

J

MIN( tax_adj * surcharge, Positive(tax_adj - surcharge_limit*Quotient) * surcharge_alt)

Tax paid

CG_tax_excl

J

tax_adj+sol_surch

6.

Tax credits :

tax_cr

J

0

7.

CG tax

CG_tax

J

CG_tax_excl

8.

State and local taxes

local_tax

J

0

9.

Employees' soc security

SSC

B

Function: SSC (earn_princ, If(Children>0; "employee"; "childless"), rounded) + SSC (earn_spouse, If(Children>0; "employee"; "childless"), rounded)

11.

Cash transfers

Cash_tran

J

Children*ch_cred

13.

Employer's soc security

SSC_empr

B

Function: SSC (earn_princ, “employer”, rounded) + SSC (earn_spouse, “employer”, rounded)

Key to range of equation

B calculated separately for both principal earner and spouse

P calculated for principal only (value taken as 0 for spouse calculation)

J calculated once only on a joint basis

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https://doi.org/10.1787/047072cd-en

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