Taxes and Church Tax


If you have an employment agreement with RWTH Aachen, you are required to pay taxes and social security contributions, unless you are paying taxes on your income in your native country.

This is possible if a double tax treaty exists between your native country and Germany. If you pay taxes on your income in your native country, you need to submit the corresponding confirmation of this treaty when you sign your employment agreement.

If you are receiving a scholarship, you should let the funding organization know whether you have to pay taxes on your income. For the most part, scholarships are untaxed if your income is not higher than is necessary for covering your expenses.

Income tax is directly substituted from you pay by your employer, i.e. your host institute, and paid directly to the state; the amount of money withheld depends on your income, your family status, and your tax class. In Germany taxes are deducted from income every month for those individuals who are not self-employed. Your income tax status is determined when you are hired.

Starting January 1, 2012, there is a new electronic process. An employee only has to give the employer their date of birth and tax identification number, as well as whether the job is the main or a side employment agreement.

Since international researchers from abroad usually do not have a tax identification number to provide, they can also apply for this while registering their residence in the Citizens’ Service / Registration Office. The Citizens’ Service Office will forward your application for an identification number to the Central Federal Office for Taxes ("Bundeszentralamt für Steuern-BZSt"). It takes about 1-3 weeks to receive an ID number. Tax class I is automatically assigned at the time of application for up to six weeks.

If a spouse has also moved to Germany and is similarly employed, a so called combination will be requested at the BZSt, so that both individuals are automatically placed in tax class IV. If one spouse earns a great deal more than the other, it can make more financial sense for taxation purposes, to fill out a “Application to Change Tax Class” or “Antrag auf Steuerklassen-Wechsel,” through which a change of tax class from III (for the higher salary) and tax class V (for the lower salary) serves as a foundation for tax calculations.

For further information, see also the Wikipedia entry on Taxation in Germany.

Address of the Tax Office Aachen

Finanzamt Kreis Aachen und Finanzamt Stadt Aachen
Krefelder Straße 210
52070 Aachen
Tel. +49 241 469-0

Church Tax

Members of the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran or Reformed Protestant Church, or the Jewish Community must pay church tax in Germany.

At the end of a tax year/calendar year, you must submit a tax return to the local tax office or submit it through computer software, ideally by the end of May of the following year. You can obtain the necessary documents either at the tax office or at city hall. You will also need to submit an overview of your income from your employer, on which your total taxes and social fees paid are listed. Certain deductions can claimed on your tax return, so that you may be able to receive refunds for them.