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

„Wenn es knifflig wird.“

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The artists’ social security insurance is a special part of the Germany’s social security system. The system applies for self-employed artists and publicists. Publicists in this sense are for example journalists. The system is financed one half through contributions of artists or publicists and by the other half through subsidies from the Federal Government and by companies, institutions, associations, or public organisations who utilize any artistic or written works created by self-employed persons.

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Under certain circumstances it is beneficial for foreign people to become voluntary members in one or more of the schemes. This is mainly the case for shareholders of foreign companies or partners of foreign partnerships who are not employed in Germany and therefore not obligatory members of Germany’s social security system.

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The German social security system in general covers only employments. This means that it is important to determine when a manager of a corporation or a member of a partnership is deemed to be an employee and becomes liable to German social security contributions if this person continues to work for the company.

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The German social security system is incredibly complex and varies fundamentally from systems of other countries. The parts of the system are very fragmented, and the legal structure is complicated. In addition, there are a lot of different players and organizations involved which makes it even harder to keep track with constant changes in legislation and court decisions. Even many Germans find it impossible to understand the system and its details, and for foreigners who relocate to Germany the system can easily become a devious monster. Therefore, we will publish a serious of articles with the aim to bring some light into this darkness.

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Germany’s social security system is complex and varies from the systems of other countries. This complexity makes it very difficult for affected persons and enterprises to follow their legal obligations and determine beneficial solutions. Therefore, there will be a series of articles published on this website explaining the German social security system and special issues that apply for expatriates relocating to Germany.

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The IBDF Instituto Brasileiro de Direito Tributário, the HSB Hochschule Bremen – City University of Applied Sciences - and the International Tax Institute, University of Hamburg, in Cooperation with IFA Section North, Hamburg, are happy to invite you to a Conference with the subject "Comparison of the Tax Systems of Brazil and Germany“.

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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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US pension plans are an important cornerstone of retirement planning both for US citizens and US residents. As long as citizens and residents remain in the USA the tax consequences are straight forward. However, if a US citizen or a citizen of another state relocates to Germany and withdraws money from such a plan, the tax situation changes and becomes more complex. This is particularly so because many questions regarding the German taxation of withdrawals form 401(k)-plans or IRAs are still unresolved. However, a recent ruling of the German Federal Fiscal Court clarified one outstanding point.

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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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There are various situations where an expatriate who relocates to Germany would benefit from a “tax cover” to avoid undesirable tax consequences. One way to avoid unwanted tax implications is the transfer of property which generates respective income to a German or a foreign company. However, this transfer often results in tax consequences at a later stage which may be considered not to be beneficial and so it must only be done after proper research. Another tax planning tool might be the transfer of respective property into a pension plan.

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There are several important reporting obligations in Germany. Most of them have to be observed by both German citizens and expatriates who relocate to Germany. The obligations apply especially to persons who are shareholders of companies, or members of partnerships who have set up a business activity in Germany. Persons in this respect are considered as both individuals as well as corporations.

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Foreign business entities sometimes have to pay German Value Added Tax (VAT) even though they are not tax resident in Germany. This may be VAT on deliveries and services received in Germany which are shown on invoices of German suppliers or service providers or import-VAT. Because the regular VAT-rate of 19% is quite severe it is of importance to know how a foreign business entity can reclaim German VAT that has been paid.

 

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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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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).