Radio tax is a license or broadcasting fee for the public German TV and radio. It is known as radio and TV tax. However, it is not a tax. Till 2013, the GEZ used to collect this radio fee which stands for German fee collector center. Since then, GEZ changed its name to a friendlier ARD ZDF.
Every household must pay the radio tax of 18.36 euros monthly to support public broadcasting in Germany, regardless of how many people live in it. The radio fee gets collected per quarter; that’s how you will pay 55.08 euros four times a year.
Table of Content
- Why does Radio Tax Exist in Germany?
- Is it Mandatory to Pay Radio Tax?
- Exemption and Reduction of Radio Tax
- Registered in Two Households in Germany
- Someone in Household Already Paying the Radio Tax
- Paying the Radio Tax as a Student in Germany
- How to Pay the Broadcasting Tax in Germany?
- How to Change the Address for Radio Tax in Germany?
- Circumstances of Not Paying the Radio Tax in Germany
- In a Nutshell
Why does Radio Tax Exist in Germany?
According to German law, a democracy needs to have independent media. The media cannot be financed and influenced by politics and economics through taxes and advertisement. The logic is that the media gets equally funded by all German residents. That’s how the concept of radio tax came into the picture.
Since German citizens have funded the media, the public broadcast limits spreading fake news and allows cultural niches to be present in Germany’s media. You can make the most of it by watching and listening to German public television and radio. You can use it to practice your German. It is broadcasting the TV shows which are very educational, fun, and easy to understand.
It is not only Germany in the world where citizens pay a broadcasting fee. There are around 34 countries where the radio fee is mandatory to pay globally.
Is it Mandatory to Pay Radio Tax?
Every household in Germany must pay the radio fee. If you fall under one of them, some categories allow an exception from the radio fee. Whether you use the German public broadcasting services or not, paying the radio tax is mandatory.
You can proactively register yourself and the flat you moved into online on the official website of the ARD ZDF to pay the broadcasting fee. Most of the citizens in Germany volunteer to pay in advance.
Once you register your address, it has been notified to the German fee collector center. That’s how you may receive a letter from ARD ZDF a few weeks after your address registration. The letter will demand you to sign up with them. You can get the signup form from the official website of ARD ZDF. Once you fill out the form correctly, you must mail it back to their office. Otherwise, you can also opt for online registration by completing the form on the website.
Exemption and Reduction of Radio Tax
You can apply for an exemption and reduce the radio fee if you fall under any category.
- In case you have severe disabilities which prevent you from participating in public events. In this situation, you can apply for a reduction to 6.12 euros monthly.
- You are deaf and blind; in that case, you are eligible to apply for the exemption.
- Students who receive financial aid can also apply for the exemption.
- You receive social security benefits which include unemployment benefits and a guaranteed minimum pension. In this case, you are eligible to apply for the exemption.
Registered in Two Households in Germany
You do not need to pay the TV and radio tax twice if you have two households in Germany. You are eligible to apply for an exemption for your second home.
Someone in Household Already Paying the Radio Tax
If you have moved into a flat-sharing, then there are chances that someone in your new household is already paying the broadcasting fee. To avoid the double payment, you need to inform their office which person in your home is already paying the radio tax. You will need the name and the registration number, which is the Beitragsnummer of your flatmate, along with your address registration in Germany.
Paying the Radio Tax as a Student in Germany
As discussed above, in the exemptions, if you stay with your parents and receive financial support, students don’t need to pay the radio fee. Otherwise, you must pay the broadcasting fee if you are an Erasmus student or on a scholarship.
The following rules apply to you if you live in student housing.
- Suppose your room leads to a generally accessible hallway. In that case, it is categorized as your household regardless of whether your apartment has a kitchen or bathroom. You have to pay the radio tax alone.
- In case several rooms are separated from a generally accessible hallway and staircase by a separate apartment door. It is considered one household. That’s how you and your flatmates can share the 18.36 euros radio fee.
How to Pay the Broadcasting Tax in Germany?
The payment for the radio fee does not happen monthly, unlike other services in Germany. You can make the payment for the broadcasting fee at the following frequency.
- You can make the payment by the 15th of every three months in the middle of the month.
- You can prepay for three months at the beginning of the quarter,
- At the beginning of the semester, you can prepay for six months.
- Advance payment for a year.
There are two options to pay the radio tax in Germany.
- You can give a direct debit authorization from your German bank account by filling out a form online.
- You can set up a bank transfer from your bank account so you can never forget to make the payment.
How to Change the Address for Radio Tax in Germany?
If you move within Germany, you must re-register your address with the local authorities and the ARD ZDF. Your previous registration account will continue on the new address for the radio tax payment.
If you are leaving Germany, you must deregister your address and deregister with the ARD ZDF to avoid future requests for the radio tax payment.
Circumstances of Not Paying the Radio Tax in Germany
In any scenario, if you don’t make the payment for the radio tax in Germany, then you might get into serious legal trouble. You will continuously receive demands for payment later, which will turn into the official collection procedures. The ARD ZDF will inform the SCHUFA, which can hold your credit score in Germany. They can report your bad payment habits, affecting your SCHUFA score. With a lousy score, you won’t be able to go for any further purchases in Germany. You will end up paying the total sum you owe and the additional fines for the late payment. To avoid such a situation, paying the radio tax on time is advisable because there is a good reason behind its existence.
In a Nutshell
German law has different types of taxes for the citizens’ benefit. Radio or broadcasting tax is one of them. There is no doubt that the radio fee exists in the country to keep the media biased free. Whether you use the radio and TV or not, it is mandatory to pay for every citizen. According to German law, citizens use smartphones and the internet to access the media. That’s why everyone must contribute to the public German radio and TV. There are a few exemptions as well, which you can utilize to reduce your radio tax payment. Being a good citizen, your tax contribution will help the country grow and maintain its level of development.