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Taxation in case of Scholarships

Whether you will have to pay taxes in Germany depends on whether your research work is being financed by a work contract or by a scholarship and on the length of time you will be employed.

Research scholarships are tax-free when they comply with the following conditions (see Einkommensteuergesetz, EStG [Income Tax Act]) § 3 Nr. 44).

  • They must be paid directly from public funds for promoting research or for promoting scientific or artistic training or continuing education
  • They must not exceed the necessary sum to cover living costs and completion of the research tasks (material costs)

The organization granting your scholarship will be able to tell you whether you have to pay tax on your scholarship or not.

A "tax-free" status also exempts you from paying social security contributions. Nonetheless, you must still deliver proof of health insurance (see Health Insurance).

It is essential for you to find out what regulations govern the taxation of scholarships in your home country. And you should pay particular attention to regulations concerning existing double taxation agreements.

Taxation in case of employment

If you are employed by Bielefeld University to carry out research and will be staying in Germany for more than 6 months (183 days or more), you have to pay taxes and social security contributions. Both will be deducted from your salary and transferred directly to the state by your employer. The amount of taxes you pay depends on your income, your family situation, and your tax category (Steuerklasse).

If you stay in Germany for less than 6 months, your income will be taxed in your home country.

In order to ensure that foreign citizens are not taxed twice, both in their home country and in Germany, so-called double taxation agreements (Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen, DBA) have been negotiated with 75 different states. Departing from the 6-months rule mentioned above, the double taxation agreements with some countries rule that, for example, international visiting scholars who come to Germany for a maximum of 2 years to do research in public research institutes can pay their taxes in their home country. You can find out which countries this applies to (EU member states and some other states) and which other tax regulations need to be taken into account in the Internet under the following addresses.

  • For detailed information of the agreements with individual countries go to the Internet page of the Federal Ministry of Finance (Bundesministeriums für Finanzen).
  • The tax office (Finanzamt) in Bielefeld can also provide information, but they charge for this service since January 1, 2007.
  • EU citizens can also find specific information on the Internet site "Your Europe".




Wage Tax Card, Tax Brackets, Church Tax

You need to apply for a wage tax card (Lohnsteuerkarte) when you register at the Einwohnermeldeamt. You must hand this over to the personnel department of Bielefeld University. At the end of the calendar year, either this Lohnsteuerkarte or a computer printout of the accounting data will be returned to you. You have to hand this over to your Finanzamt together with your tax declaration (Steuererklärung).

On your Lohnsteuerkarte, you will find your tax category (Steuerklasse). This is related to your family status, how many children you have, and whether or not your marriage partner is also employed. The amount of tax you pay depends on your level of income and your Steuerklasse.

In Germany, members of several denominations have to pay church taxes. Those religious congregations are, for example, Catholics, Protestants or members of the Old Catholic Church. Furthermore there are also some smaller religious groups that are financed by church taxes, too. Taxpayers have to pay between 8 and 9 percent of their income tax additional to it as church tax. So the actual amount of money that is paid as church taxes, depends on the amount of the income. Church taxes will directly be kept from ones gross salary.
During the registration at the Bielefeld City Hall, it will be asked after the religious affiliation and one needs to answer the question truthfully.





Tax Declaration

After making your income tax declaration (Steuererklärung für Einkommensteuer), you may get a refund if you have paid too much income tax during the previous calendar year (also called the "Lohnsteuerausgleich").

You can obtain the necessary forms from the Finanzamt (under the link Formulare) or from the Internet pages of the Bundesministerium der Finanzen (by following the links Wirtschaft und Verwaltung - Steuern - Ihre Steuererklärung). You can also hand in your tax declaration "online" or even send it in from your home country.

The tax declaration should be delivered to the Finanzamt by the end of May in the following year and before December 31 at the latest.
Once the Finanzamt has processed your Steuererklärung, you will receive a tax assessment notice (Steuerbescheid) specifying the amount of tax you will be refunded or may still have to pay.

Because a great number of regulations have to be taken into account when completing your Steuererklärung (different sources of income, double taxation agreements, etc), it is advisable to seek advice from a tax accountant (Steuerberater). This assistance is not free, but will cost about 100 to 150 Euros. You can find addresses in the telephone directory or in the Internet through the Deutsche Steuerberaterverband e.V. (DStV). An alternative is so-called Lohnsteuerhilfevereine that offer advice and assistance in completing your Steuererklärung. To take advantage of their services, you have to become a member and pay an annual membership fee. You can also find these addresses in the local telephone directory.

In the following, you will find the addresses of the different branches of the Finanzamt in Bielefeld. Which branch is responsible for you depends on where you live. You will be directed to the right office either through the general office (Zentrale, telephone 0521 - 548-0) or the Internet.

Opening times:
Monday to Friday 8:30 - 12:00
Tuesday 8:30 - 12:00 and
13:30 - 15:00
and by appointment

Bürgerbüro (Citizens' Advice Office):
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 7:30 - 12:00
Tuesday 7:30 - 15:00
Thursday 7:30 - 17:00

Finanzamt Bielefeld-Innenstadt
Ravensberger Straße 90
33607 Bielefeld

Telephone: 0521 - 5480
Fax: 0800 100 9267 5305
Fax number from outside Germany: +49 - 521 - 5481200




Opening times:
Monday to Friday 8:30 - 12:00
Thursday 8:30 - 12:00 and
13:30 - 15:00
and by appointment

Bürgerbüro (Citizens' Advice Office): Monday, Wednesday, Friday 7:30 - 12:00
Tuesday 7:30 - 15:00
Thursday 7:30 - 17:00

Finanzamt Bielefeld-Außenstadt
Ravensberger Straße 125
33607 Bielefeld

Telephone: 0521 - 5480
Fax: 0800 100 9267 5349
Fax number from outside Germany: +49 - 521 - 5481642

Contact:

welcome@uni-bielefeld.de

Service Desk
Monday til Friday:
10.30-11.30
Room: C5-133

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