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

„Wenn es knifflig wird.“

German Trade and Business Tax

von Peter Scheller

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 rate). The combined tax rate is 15,83%.

In addition to this there is a local business tax. Subject to this tax is everybody who carries out business or trade activities. Companies are always presumed to carry on a business. Taxable income for business tax is detemined in the same manner as for income tax purposes. But this income is subject to certain adjustments. Some adjustments increase the taxable income other reduce it. For example the following expenses are not deductible if they exceed together a threshold of € 100,000:

  • Financing costs (100%)
  • Rental costs for real estate (20% of rent)
  • Rental or leasing costs for cars, trucks, IT-Hardware, other equipment (50% of rental and leasing costs)


Income for corporation tax purpose (Profit)     100,000
Financing costs (interests) 50,000 100 50,000
Rent for office and warehouse space 100,000 20 20,000
Leasing costs (Trucks, equipment) 100,000 50 50,000
Threshold     (100,000)
Income for business tax purposes (tax base)     120,000

There are deductions especially to avoid double taxation senarios such as for profits of foreign permanent establishments or dividends derived from qualified shareholding investments.

Before mentioned tax base is multiplied by a federal rate of 3,5% and results in a basic tax amount. This basic tax amount is multiplied by a special rate set by each city or municipality. The current multiplier for major German cities are for example:

  • Berlin: 410%
  • Frankfurt am Main: 460%
  • Hamburg: 470%
  • Munich: 490%

Smaller towns might have considerable lower rates. The tax burden in general varies between 14% to 17% of profits. Business tax like other income taxes are not deductible for tax purposes.


Business   Tax Gewerbesteuer
Corporation   Income Tax Körperschaftsteuer
Solidarity   Surplus Charge Solidaritätszuschlag
Business   Tax Base Gewerbeertrag
Federal   Rate Gewerbesteuer-Messzahl
Basic Tax   Amount Gewerbesteuermessbetrag
Municipal   Multiplier Gewerbesteuerhebesatz

Author: Peter Scheller, German Tax Adviser – Master of International Taxation



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Peter Scheller
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