3 Feb 2012


This is one of the things in Germany I will never understand as a foreigner!

What is it?

It is basically a church tax. Yes, you read right! If you are working in Germany and you are belonging to one of the official religions (catholic, protestant, etc.), you will have to pay it.

How do the officials know what religion I am?

Remember the Meldebescheinigung? Well, there you wrote it and now they know it.

What is it for?

I have talked to many Germans about that and I have always expressed my amazement to them concerning this topic. I simply cannot understand why a secular and democratic state collects taxes for its churches! Where is the separation of religion and state?!

Apparently, the church in Germany is doing a lot more than in other countries (especially in my country, Bulgaria). It is administering schools, kindergartens and is doing a lot for society. I have heard some Germans saying that if you don't pay your Kirchensteuer, the chance of getting your child in a kindergarten is lower than if you pay. The officials will never tell you the reason behind it, but it can be that...

If you don't pay this tax, you cannot baptize your child in Germany, you cannot have a church marriage and you cannot have a church burial.

How much is it?

It is between 20 and 50 Euro per month, depending on how much you earn. A good average value is around 35 Euro.

How to avoid it?

This is pretty simple: when you fill in the forms for your Meldebescheinigung, simply write that you have no religion (or not applicable). If you are a religious person (and belonging to one of the official religions here) and you don't want to give up your faith just like that, then you will have to swallow it and pay up.

Remark: for the eastern Block, Eastern Orthodox is not an official religion here, so you are safe.

Note: the church tax has nothing to do with visiting a church! You can still visit a holy place, without paying the tax, don't worry!

Questions? Just post a comment and I will try to answer it!

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