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Church tax

    Church tax in Saxony

    Church tax in Saxony
    (© hofschlaeger/ pixelio.de)

    Who is liable to church tax?

    If you belong to the Roman Catholic Church or one of the regional Protestant Churches, and have your primary place of residence in the Free State of Saxony, you are liable to pay church tax in Saxony.

    The aforementioned Churches have assigned the Free State of Saxony with the task of administrating their church taxes, meaning church income tax, church wage tax, and church capital gains tax (regional/diocesan church tax) are charged by the Free State on behalf of these churches. Membership of any of the aforementioned Churches is thus also

    • recorded as a church tax deduction criterion for your employer via the electronic wage tax deduction criteria (ELStAM), or
    • recorded on the relevant wage tax deduction documents

    for the purposes of wage tax deduction.

    Liability to pay church tax starts on the first day of the calendar month following that in which membership commenced. The start of membership of any of the aforementioned Churches is governed by the Churches’ rules.

    Taxation

    The church tax (regional/diocesan church tax) is charged in addition to the income tax, wage tax and capital gains tax. The finance authorities collect these for the Churches.

    The assessment bases for the church tax to be paid is the income/wage/capital gains tax determined as per § 51a of the German Income Tax Act (EStG). The tax rate is set by the Churches by virtue of a church tax resolution – the standard rate in Saxony is nine percent of the income/wage/capital gains tax. The church income tax totals no more than 3.5 percent of the taxable income (capping).

    The Protestant regional church tax is charged at a minimum rate of EUR 3.60 per year, EUR 0.30 per month, EUR 0.07 per week and EUR 0.01 per day. The minimum amount is only charged if income/wage tax is incurred in accordance with § 51a of the German Income Tax Act (EStG).

    Specific details apply to the church wage tax if the wage tax is not charged as per the personal wage tax deduction criteria (on the 2010 wage tax card or wage tax deduction documents or ELStAM), but rather based on flat tax rates (approximated).

    Church capital gains tax charged by other Churches

    The Free State of Saxony does not administrate or charge church taxes for any other religious communities. One exception is, however, the church capital gains tax as part of the capital gains tax deduction process: If you earn capital gains in the Free State of Saxony, and belong to a Church which has assigned its taxation duties to another state’s finance authorities*, you can ask the centre responsible for charging the tax (e.g. your bank) to withhold the relevant church tax (church capital gains tax) along with the capital gains tax. The church tax deducted is then passed onto the respective religious community via the finance authority.

    The church tax rate is based on the state of permanent residence (the general church tax rate in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg is eight percent; it is nine percent in all other states).

    Capital gains are subject to the church capital gains tax in the tax deduction process if a church tax liability exists at the time they are earned.

    *) In other states, this also includes (along with the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches) certain Old Catholic, Jewish and free religious communities (see also the order issued by the Saxon State Ministry of Finance).

    Secession from the Church

    Declare your secession from the Church orally on the record, in person, to the local officer from the city or town in which you most recently permanently resided. You will receive documentation of this. The declaration of secession to the registry office can also be submitted in writing in a publicly certified form.

    The church tax liability ends at the end of the calendar month following that in which the declaration of secession has taken effect.

    TIP: Your church community or local finance authority will provide you with further information on this.

    Legal basis

    • Law on taxation by Churches, religious communities and equivalent associations in the Free State of Saxony (Saxon Church Tax Act)
    • Order by the Saxon State Ministry of Finance on the taxation of permanent establishments to deduct church tax from capital gains
    • § 51a German Income Tax Act (EStG) – Setting and charging additional taxes

    Release note

    State Chancellery of Saxony. As at: 1/1/2013