As we know, taxes is a compulsory contribution to state revenue that the government deducts from the income of workers and businesses. But did you know that you pay an extra amount for being religious in Germany?
If you register for a religion in Germany, the church tax will be deducted from your paycheck and sent to the church. This is called Kirchensteuer, and there is a way out of it.
What is Kirchensteuer?
Kirchensteuer is a church tax that is deducted from residents in Germany that are members of Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic Churches. The Kirchensteuer is automatically taken from the monthly income of a resident when they have declared that they are a member of any of the listed churches upon completing their address registration or anmeldung in Germany.
The local tax office or finanzamt is also the collection agency for the church tax. Depending on your location, the tax office will withhold about 8 to 9% of your income tax, which will be given to your respective church. (Source: Nomaden Berlin)
What Churches are Listed for Kirchensteuer?
Not all churches are listed for Kirchensteuer. Particular state-recognized churches can collect taxes from their members. The following churches are included in the list:
- Evangelical Churches
- Catholic Churches
- The Old Catholic Churches
- Jewish Religious Communities
- Israelite Religious Communities
- Free Religious Communities
- The Reformed Chruch of France in Berlin
- The Mennonites Community in Hamburg
- Unitarian Religious Communities in Rhineland-Palatinate
Members of religious organizations like the Orthodox, Baptist, Salvation Army, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim, and Buddhist are not required to pay church taxes in Germany. (Source: I Am Expat)
Do You Still Have To Pay the Church Tax If You Are Not Religious?
If you are not religious or you just don’t want to pay for the tax, you need to indicate that you are not part of any religious affiliation. To do this, you need to write oa in the box. This means keiner öffentlich-rechtlichen Religionsgesellschaft angehörig which translates to no religious affiliation.
If you have accidentally signed up for a church in Germany, there is a way you can opt-out of paying the tax. But be warned, it is time-consuming and complicated. The process is called kirchenaustritt or leaving the church. The details vary from place to place, and it would cost you 30 euros to renounce your church membership. Once you’ve processed your documents, you will receive an austrittsbescheinigung or leaving certificate. (Source: I Am Expat)
Has Anyone Been Caught Lying on Their Form?
There have been cases where people marked themselves non-religious on their registration forms but were later asked to pay hundreds and thousands of euros in back payments. Churches in Germany are known to contact churches abroad for details of their members. If you are baptized in your home country or regularly attend church services, you may find yourself fined for late payments. (Source: I Am Expat)
How Much Church Tax Does One Pay?
The amount you pay on church tax is dependent on the salary you earn and where you live. Like other charges, it is based on the amount of income tax you pay less child allowances. For example, in Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg, your church tax bill will be 8% of what you pay in income tax. (Source: I Am Expat)