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Tax classes (Steuerklassen) in Germany

1st Dec 2021

It's time to check your tax classes in Germany: yes, you can change it and of course you can claim a refund.

What is a tax class in Germany?

Tax classes in Germany, referred to as "Steuerklassen", determine your income tax rate based on your marital status, your spouse's income and the number of dependent children. The amount of unemployment benefits, social security and holiday pay depend on the tax class you have been placed in.

Each employee must personally prove and register his/her current situation with the German authorities.

Once the tax authorities have linked your profile to your tax class, this is used to calculate and withhold tax from your monthly salary.

If there is any change in your life, the tax class can be changed. Any incorrect deductions that are charged will be added to your tax return at the end of the fiscal year.

Read also:

What do you need to do to start working in Germany?

Starting work in Germany is not without official and other formalities. Here's an overview of what you need to arrange and what you'll need to prepare.


6 "Steuerklassen" - tax classes

Tax class Description
0 employees who work in Germany and have their place of residence abroad
I The first class is for workers who are single or for those whose spouses live abroad
II Single and divorced with dependent children
III Married or widowed who are in the first year after the death of a spouse
IV Married, both spouses have income
V Married persons whose spouse has a higher income
VI Employees with multiple jobs and different tax cards (Lohnsteuerkarte)

NOTE: For tax class III (three) spouses have to be registered and living in Germany. If the spouse does not live in Germany, tax class I (one) applies

Tax card (Bescheinigung für den Lohnsteuerabzug): short glossary

  • Tax cards (Lohnsteuerkarte): you apply for them annually at the local registration office (Rathaus or Einwohnermeldeamt)/Finanzamt.
  • Depending on your personal status (marital status, dependent children, etc.), the tax class you have been assigned will be shown on the card. Tá sa automaticky posiela na vašu adresu. If you do not receive it, you will need to contact your local registration office or request it online.
  • " Bescheinigung für den Lohnsteuerabzug" lists all the details of your local tax office (Finanzamt). It basically depends on your place of residence and your surname.
  • Income tax for all employees is paid by the employer and passed on to the responsible tax office (Finanzamt).
  • To claim any overpayment, you must file a tax return in the following calendar year. The amount of the overpayment is calculated either by the annual income tax assessment (Lohnsteuer-Jahresausgleich) or by a request for assessment (Antragsveranlagung).

What is the most common tax class for "foreigners"?

Most non-residents fall into tax class I or III (one or three). If both partners work in Germany, tax class IV applies.

How many times can I change tax class in Germany?

Officially, you have the right to change your tax class once a year. However, life events can cause this class to change.

What events can change my tax class?

As mentioned above, you can change your Steuererklärung if:

  • you are working freelance or retired, on parental leave or in the event of unemployment
  • your partner is working again,
  • one of the partners has died,
  • you are divorced or do not live with your partner,
  • you have a child.

When is it worth changing tax bracket?

If you want to check your partner's current status, you can use this German simulator. Here you need to enter your gross salary together with your postcode. You will be able to see if it is worth making a tax class change in Germany.

Have you worked in Germany? We will help you with your tax return so that you can claim your tax refund in Germany.

Find out more