Taxes in Europe Database v2
The legal basis is the Real Property Transfer Tax Act as published on 26 February 1997 (Federal Law Gazette I p. 418, 1804), last amended by Article 14 of the Act of 25 July 2014 (Federal Law Gazette I p. 1266).
Federal Republic of Germany.
Tax liability attaches in general to the persons taking part in the transaction, thus the purchaser and vendor of the property. These persons may agree in the contract that the tax liability is to be discharged by only one of the parties.
Real property transfer tax attaches to any transactions bringing about a change in the identity of the owner of real property or the person who is empowered to dispose of such property. Liability to the tax attaches in particular to contracts of sale and other legal transactions under which a party acquires a right to the transfer of title to domestic real property. Tax is also levied on numerous other transactions, such as the transfer of title in connection with the expropriation of real property, the highest bid in a sale by public auction ordered by a court, the direct or indirect change in the composition of an unincorporated company as a result of the transfer of not less than 95 % of the shares in the company's assets to new partners, the transfer of beneficial ownership and the direct or indirect concentration or an economic participation in one hand of not less than 95 % of the shares in a company holding real property. The same status as real property is accorded to the hereditary right to erect or maintain a building on someone else's property and to buildings situated on another person's land.
As a rule, real property transfer tax is computed on the value of the consideration given. In particular, it includes any consideration given by the purchaser to the vendor or to another person in respect of the sale of the property. It also covers, for instance, any consideration given to the vendor by third parties for having let the purchaser have the property.
In a few special cases, for instance where no consideration is given, or in the case of transformation of assets or transfer of property in exchange for stock, tax is computed on the real property value (Sec. 138 (2) or (3) of the Valuation Act).
All transactions subject to real property transfer tax must be reported to the appropriate tax office which then computes the tax payable and issues a formal notice of assessment. Only when the tax has been paid the tax office will issue the clearance certificate which the new owner of real property must submit in order to have the transaction recorded in the real property register.
Certain transactions are tax exempt. These include in particular
The tax is levied at a basic rate of 3.5 %. Since 1 January 2007 the German Länder have the right to set the rate by themselves.
The tax becomes due one month after the tax assessment. The tax office may grant a longer period of time for payment.
Real property transfer tax is collected by the Länder, which also receive the revenue. The Länder may assign all or part of such revenue to the municipalities and associations of municipalities.