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News article | 31 March 2016 | Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union

Germany allows donations to foreign charities the same inheritance tax treatment as donations to German charities

As a result of an infringement procedure initiated by the European Commission (Case No 2012/2159; see MEMO/14/589), Germany amended its legislation and will no longer treat legacies established in other EU/EEA States less favourably than legacies to certain charities established in Germany. Previously, domestic charities were granted an exemption from inheritance tax, whereas similar charities established in other EU/EEA States only enjoyed this exemption if their State of residence granted an equivalent or reciprocal exemption to comparable German charities. As a result, legacies to foreign charities were often taxed more heavily. As a result of attaining compliance by Germany, on 25 February 2016 the European Commission closed the infringement procedure.

The above infringement procedure is part of a broader EU-wide compliance review being undertaken by the European Commission. In the period 2011-2014, the Commission launched the three EU-law compliance initiatives, designed to benefit EU citizens. The above infringement procedure had been identified by the initiative examining whether MS give equal tax treatment to persons when they inherit across the borders in the EU (cross-border inheritances - IP/11/1551). The two other initiatives concern cross-border workers (IP/12/340) and . mobile persons (IP/14/31). As a result of these reviews most Member States have changed their laws to eliminate the discriminatory features or are in the course of doing so; in the case of those problems that have not been resolved the Commission has referred or will refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Infringements cases


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Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union