The church tax in Germany is not mandatory; it is an optional tax. Most foreigners once complete their registration in Germany. They receive their first pay slip. After receiving it, they know the church tax has been deducted from their monthly salary. It could be surprising for the expats who recently moved to Germany.
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So here in this article, we will find out about the church tax and its monthly charge. We’ll talk about who is liable to pay the church tax. Since this tax is optional, we’ll look at the procedure to stop paying this tax.
What is Church Tax?
You should be aware that state-recognized churches are authorized to collect the church tax from their members in Germany. Have a look at the following list.
- Evangelical Churches
- Catholic Churches
- The Old Catholic Church
- Jewish Religious Communities
- Israelite Religious Communities
- Free Religious Communities
- The Reformed Church of France in Berlin
- The Mennonites Community in Hamburg
- Unitarian Religious Communities in Rhineland-Palatinate
Members of the other religious communities such as Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness, Orthodox, Salvation Army, Muslim and Buddhist communities are not bound to pay church tax in Germany.
Communities may depend on the taxation authorities in Germany to collect the church tax contributions for them by regular income tax for a small fee. They can also choose to manage the church tax themselves from the taxpayers.
Who has to pay the Church Tax in Germany?
Anyone who is a church member is liable to pay the German church tax. Once you arrive in Germany, you first need to register with your local citizens’ office to receive your registration certificate. You are asked questions about your religion in the Anmeldung form. If you belong to a religious community, you can indicate your community using one of the following abbreviations.
- ak – Old Catholic
- ev – Evangelical
- is – Jewish
- rf – Reformed
- RK – Roman Catholic
Once you submit the form, your answers will be forwarded to the tax office, which will link your tax ID to church tax liability.
What if I’m not Following any Religion?
If you are not following any religion or do not want to pay the church tax in that case, you can specify this by writing “oa” in your form, which stands for no religious affiliation. You can also simply put a dash through the box.
Churches in Germany have the authority to contact the churches abroad for the details about their church members. They can find out whether members were baptized in their home country and regularly attended church services. So, people not declaring their religion to save the church tax can be in trouble. The church authorities can easily find such members, and these citizens can pay a significant church tax.
Church Facilities for Taxpayers
The citizens paying the church tax can use the church facilities such as marriage, baby baptism, and a Christian burial. Suppose you are religious and want to become a member of Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant communities and use the church facilities. In that case, you can register your religion and be liable to pay the tax.
How Much is the Church Tax?
The church tax amount depends on your salary and your location. It is based on the amount of the income tax you pay, deducting any child allowances. In Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, your church tax amounts to 8 percent of what you paid in income tax. It is 9 percent in other federal states. If you pay the church tax, you can deduct this amount as a particular expense on your annual income tax return. It will help you to reduce your taxable amount.
How to Pay the Church Tax?
Church tax is collected the same way as the other taxes collected in Germany. The church tax is also deducted directly from the salary by the tax authorities. You can check your pay slip for the item church tax to find out how much has been deducted.
How to Leave the Church in Germany and Stop Paying the Tax?
Suppose you have unwillingly signed up for the church tax in Germany and want to leave it, then there is a way to get out of paying the tax amount. The process can be time-consuming. This process is called the Kirchenaustritt, which means leaving the church. Although the process details vary from place to place.
If you want to renounce your church membership, it will cost you around thirty euros. To do this, you must apply to your local administrative count or registry office with your registration certificate and ID. For married citizens, a marriage certificate is also mandatory. There is a website, Kirchenaustritt.de, which can help you find your local authority; you can also find helpful advice regarding the process.
You may find some difficulties in leaving the church; suppose you have been baptized and attended the church services in your home country. Once you complete the process of leaving the church then, you will receive a church leaving certificate. This certificate will announce that you are no longer a member of the church in Germany. Your church tax payments will automatically cease. However, you can expect a delay of a few months.
In a Nutshell
We have gone through the taxation system in Germany. You can go and read the previous articles, which will explain to you about the mandatory taxes that are liable paid by every citizen. However, there are a few optional taxes, and the church tax is one of them. Here you’ll get to know about the church tax thoroughly. Along with that, you can check the procedure for how to opt out of this tax. The process is quite simple; however, getting the church leaving certificate takes time. Once you get it, the church tax will not deduct from your salary, and you can save your tax amount. Moreover, citizens who opt out of the church tax are not allowed to use the church services. Hope this article will help you to get the answers to all of your questions.