Peter Scheller
Berater für Wirtschaftsprüfer, Rechtsanwälte, Steuer- und Unternehmensberater

„Wenn es knifflig wird.“


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From 2020, owners of residential buildings that are more than 10 years old can apply for a special tax benefit. The application can be made in a special form that is part of the German income tax return. This benefit can only be used if the owner uses the property for their own residential purposes.

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The development of German tax legislation is characterised by constant, and sometimes fast-moving, changes. This is also the case with the taxation rules for trans-border transactions. International taxation is not only of importance for Germans with economic interests abroad. Foreigners with economic interests in Germany, or for those foreigners who live and work in Germany, are also affected by changes in the German tax law. This article is to inform you about recent changes in legislation, rulings of the fiscal courts and decrees of the tax authorities.

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From 1 January 2021 foreign employers are obliged to appoint an Authorised Representative when they employ staff who will be liable to German social security contributions. This obligation is applicable for employers who do not have a registered office in Germany.

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Living and working in another country requires careful tax planning as there are always many tax issues to be considered. In addition, social security and other legal issues such as immigration law must be observed. This applies for all US citizens who relocate to Germany and it is important to note that there are special issues to be observed. Different tax and social security systems in Germany and the USA may cause problems in addition to those contained in special provisions in the Double Taxation Convention between Germany and the USA (DTC USA).

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Finding the best way to relocate to Germany is important and seeking early advice will save time, cost and avoid difficulties later.

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During this pandemic many companies are trying to keep their economic or professional activities going by sending people home and letting them work from there. This measure is not suitable for all businesses, but it is keeping many alive. Manufacturing companies or craft businesses will not be able to do this, but many of those in the service sector are taking this route right now.

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From 1st March 2020 skilled workers and professional specialists are able to move to Germany in order to work in Germany. This is due to the Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz (Specialist Immigration Code), which allows skilled personal from non-EU or non-EEA-countries to live and work in Germany. The previous restrictions in controlling the number of  specialists and skilled workers into Germany have been reduced  significantly.

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German income tax regulations are relatively generous if it comes to deductibility of job related expenses.

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Self-employed people as well as employees may work some of the time or permanently from home. This raises the question of whether and when expenses for a home office are tax deductible in Germany and if so, what kind of expenses are valid.

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Traditionally Germany has had a so called synthetic tax system. That means that the total income from each and every source is amalgamated and the sum multiplied by the individual tax rate of the taxpayer. This method also means that losses from certain sources (such as trade and business or renting out real estate and property) can be credited against other positive income. Germany abolished this system with regard to income from capital investments and now this kind of income is not part of this amalgamation but is taxed at a special tax rate.

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Germany is one of the biggest consumer markets in the world. Therefore it is of interest for foreign companies who want to sell products or services on the German market. Besides this German business entities are often a target of foreign business investors. In any case foreign companies and investors have to observe German tax regulations in order to avoid unnecessary risks.

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Germany has a few legal specifics which needs be taken into consideration by foreign investors and businesses who want to invest or start business activities in Germany. This article lines out only very basic principles which can be surprising for foreign investors and businesses.

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Double household in Germany

Our article Deductible expenses for work-related second household requires a partcial amentment. From 2014 on the 60 square meter criterion is not applicable any more for a work-related double household in Germany. On the other hand deductible expenses are limited …

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Expatriates: 10 issues to be considered as a retired person in Germany

In general expatriates relocate to Germany for business or job reasons. However, there is a growing number of expatriates especially from the US and the UK who are moving to Germany when reaching retirement age. The reasons for this move …

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S Corporation as tax trap for US-expatriates?

The number of US citizens who are living and working in Germany increases steadily. Although their number with circa 110,000 persons is relatively small, their economic significance is high. US-citizens who move to Germany generally have either well paid jobs …

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Investment in German real estate

For foreign investors Germany’s real estate property is still attractive although property prices are still rising. Foreign investors have to consider legal and tax issues in Germany. This article covers 10 main tax issues. (1) German real estate and taxes …

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7 Facts about Gambling Winnings in the US

If you love the excitement and allure of gambling in the US, you may be wondering just how your winnings will be taxed. A federal appeals court ruled recently that the IRS can’t tax foreigners on each bet they make …

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German Business Tax

Germany imposes certain taxes on profits of domestic and foreign corporations with a tax representation in Germany. There are federal taxes such as corporation income tax (tax rate: 15%) and solidarity surplus charge (tax rate: 5,5% on corporation income tax …

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US Besteuerung von Deutschen

Deutsche Staatsangehörige müssen in ganz unterschiedlichen Situationen im Ausland Steuern zahlen. Das ist relativ einfach nachzuvollziehen, wenn man im Ausland arbeitet und/oder wohnt. Natürlich denkt man auch an Situationen, in denen man in Deutschland wohnt, aber Investments wie beispielsweise eine …

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Taxation of spouses in Germany

In Germany resident spouses will be jointly assessed for income tax purposes unless they opt for seperate assessment. Joint assessment decreases the tax burden if one spouse’s income is highrer than that of the other spouse. If a spouse qualifies for …

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Salary payments by third parties

Sometimes employees receive wage payments by third parties. This happens within company groups or through benefits granted by business partners.        This occurs, for example, in the following cases: discounts granted by business partners (for example: discounts on …

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Taxation of Stock Option Plans in Germany

Expatriates especially from the USA and the Anglo-Saxon world who have been sent to Germany by their employers are often beneficiaries of stock option plans. Regularly these employees exercise options while staying in Germany. This raises the question of how benefits will be …

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Foreign source income and German income tax

Foreign source income is in general not subject to German income taxation if a person is not resident in Germany. However, in years where a person enters or leaves Germany this sort of income might affect the progressive German income tax …

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Property Service Fees

Individuals can claim tax deductions for expenses connected to private homes. These rules promote family homes but also secondary residences or holiday homes. In Germany these fees are called Haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen. Services must be linked to the household. These favourable regulations cover employments …

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Steuerliche Pflichten von Deutschen in den USA

Natürlich ist klar, dass deutsche Staatsbürger in den USA Einkommensteuererklärungen abgeben müssen, wenn sie dort wohnen und Einkünfte erzielen. Schon weniger bekannt ist die Tatsache, dass sie auch dann US-Steuererklärungen abzugeben haben, wenn sie in Deutschland ansässig sind aber gewisse …

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Tax relief for childcare in the UK

On June 5th, 2014, the government has introduced the Childcare Payments Bill, which aims to help working families by giving basic rate tax relief on childcare of up to £ 2,000 per year for each child. The relief would be available from the …

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Profit distribution and German Church Tax

In Germany religious communities can request the tax authorities to collect a church tax from their members. In the past the Roman-Catholic Church and most of Protestant communities gave the authority of tax collection to the tax authorities. The church tax will …