Tax classes in Germany

Income tax.

All persons working in Germany are required to pay income tax ( die Lohnsteuer). Tax rates, which are mandatory in Germany, are the same everywhere. Single people who work in Germany and have a registration there are automatically assigned to the first tax class. If a single person has children, he or she must provide the child’s birth certificate to receive the Kinderfreibetrag.

The couple automatically receives a 4/4 class combination upon registration. They can apply for a 3/5 change after delivery, provided they provide a proper application. Those who are single can apply for a second tax class, but here, too, the appropriate application must be provided. The employer, that is, the person for whom we work once a month downloads the employee’s current tax class status from Finanzamt and calculates the salary on this basis.

Germany has the following tax classes:

I. The first class applies to people who live alone, as well as spouses living separately. Basic tax-free amount for tax class 1 in 2022. is €10,347.00.

II. The second class applies to single parents. Basic tax-free amount for tax class 2 in 2022. is €10,347.00

III. The third tax class applies to widowed persons, spouses whose partner has chosen tax class V or is not working. Basic tax-free amount for tax class 3 in 2022. is €20,694.00

Tax Class III should choose a partner whose earnings are higher, so that the amount to be paid to the tax office is as low as possible. A partner who earns significantly less is automatically assigned to tax class V.

IV. The fourth tax class applies to spouses whose partner has also chosen tax class IV. This tax class is suitable for partners whose earnings are similar. If the spouses do not choose any combination, the IV tax class will be granted to them automatically. The basic tax-free amount for tax class 4 in 2022. is €10,347.00 per partner.

V. Applies to spouses whose partner has chosen tax class III. There is no basic or child tax credit in tax class 5.

VI. Applies to single people and spouses with more than one job; this tax class applies to the second job. In this class, it is not important whether one has children or whether one has a spouse. This is because no annual deductions can be taken into account here.

How do I find out what my tax class is?

If you are single and have no children then you get the first tax class right away. This means that the basic annual tax-free amount is €10,347.00. However, if your family situation is different, you can determine your tax class in Germany as follows:

On January 1, 2013, an electronic tax card was introduced in Germany, German. Elektronische Lohnsteuerabzugmerkmale (abbreviated ELStAM). This electronic card replaced the previously functioning paper version of the tax card ( Lohnsteuerkarte). ELStAM contains all taxpayer data, as well as information about our current tax class. The German tax authorities (Finanzamt) are required to provide information on what data is included in the electronic tax card. Therefore, to find out what tax class you have, all you need is a phone call to the IRS or an email with a relevant question.

If we want, we can go in person to the German tax office, where a certificate will be issued to us on the spot with information on what tax class we have.

Tax class in Germany if one spouse lives in Poland

Today’s times, as well as the liberalization of the labor market in Germany, have influenced many people whose spouse lives in Poland to work in Germany. Such people working in Germany also receive the appropriate tax class:

– A person working in Germany whose total earnings are at least 90 percent subject to German income tax has the option of receiving tax class 3. If the earnings of a person who works in Germany do not exceed the amount of 20,694.00 euros per year (as of 2022), it is possible to receive tax class 3, even if less than 90% of total earnings are subject to German income tax. The change is made by submitting the appropriate application to the German office.

– A spouse who works in Germany is required to attach to the tax return in Germany, a certificate of earnings of the other spouse who lives and works in Poland

– If the trip to Germany occurred in April of a given year, for example, a certificate of earnings earned in Poland will be needed to settle the account for that year, as long as the other spouse worked.


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