Taxation in Germany

Taxes in Germany are levied by the federal government, the states (Länder) as well as the municipalities (Städte/Gemeinden). Many direct and indirect taxes exist in Germany; income tax and VAT are the most significant.

The legal basis for taxation is established in the German Constitution (Grundgesetz), which lays out the basic principles governing tax law. Most taxation is decided by the federal government and the states together, some are allocated solely at the federal level (e.g., customs), some are allocated to the states (excise taxes), and districts and municipalities may enact their own tax laws. Notwithstanding the division of tax law jurisdiction, in practice, 95% of all taxes are imposed at the federal level.

At the federal level, the government receives tax revenues from residents in the form of individual income tax, property sales taxes, and capital gains. The amount of federal tax liability may be reduced by various deductions, and mitigated by various allowances for children. Some non-residents are liable in Germany if they have certain types of income there. Generally, public and private corporations are liable for taxes in Germany, with certain exemptions such as charitable foundations and religious institutions. Products and services generated in Germany are subject to value-added tax (VAT) under EU rules, with certain exemptions. Other types of tax revenue include real property transfers, inheritance and gift taxes, capital gains, aviation, and motor vehicle taxes.