Taxes in Europe Database v2
Church tax is levied on the basis of church tax acts enacted by the legislative bodies of the federal states (Länder). The Länder authorities are also responsible for supervising the relevant Church regulations.
As a rule church tax is collected by the Länder, but the revenue accrues to the Churches. The various Churches that are entitled to levy church tax use the proceeds to help them fulfil their ecclesiastical duties.
Federal Republic of Germany
Federal Republic of Germany
Tax is payable by all those affiliated with a religious community which is a public corporation charging church tax in the parochial district (of their faith) in which they live. The criterion of "affiliation'' may be replaced by "membership'' or "membership of a Church community'', etc. When persons withdraw their membership to the Church, their obligation to pay church tax ends.
The tax base for church tax is as a rule the annual assessed income tax (or in cases of non assessed wage earners: wage tax) computed in accordance with Section 51 a (2) of the Income Tax Act, whether or not church tax is administered by the regular tax offices or by those of the Church itself.
Since 2009 capital yields are underlying new rules: As the capital yields tax is now a withholding tax in full discharge of tax liability, tax payers can choose between church tax withholding executed by the bank and a tax assessment executed by the tax office.
Besides income tax (wage tax), most church tax laws also provide for assessment on the basis of the basic amount of real property tax, although this tax base is now seldom used.
If married couples practise different faiths and if they file a joint tax return, the church tax for each faith is either computed on half of the joint income tax or first computed as if both persons were members of the same faith, and then divided between the two Churches. The second method of computation can only be applied, however, when both church tax rates are the same. If only the husband or the wife is a member of a Church entitled to levy church tax, the tax is always computed on an individual basis. Tax payable by the person who is a Church member will in this case be based on his or her share of the joint income tax or wages tax.
The tax rate may vary between 8 % and 9 % of income tax (or wages tax), depending on the federal state (Land). Some church tax acts stipulate a minimum tax.
The payments of the church tax must be made simultaneously with the advanced payments assessed for the income tax respectively the wage tax and in the above mentioned cases the capital yields tax.
As a rule, church tax is assessed and collected by tax offices in the course of income tax assessment. If the taxpayer is subject to wages tax, his or her employer computes the church tax at the rate valid for the employee's place of residence and remits it together with the wages tax to the tax office.
Annual tax revenue (millions in Euro)
as % of GDP
As church tax accrues to the Churches, church tax isn't part of the national tax revenue (no ESA95 code). Therefore, the ratio church tax as % of total tax revenue should not be computed. Nevertheless, revenue and ratio as % of GDP (dated January 2015) may be found in the special feature above.