Trailer surcharge

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The term trailer surcharge is used every day as a synonym for a special regulation for motor vehicle trailers within the meaning of Section 10 KraftStG .


The special regulation for trailers introduced on June 1, 1979, resulted in an adjustment to similar existing regulations in neighboring countries. This should reduce the competitive disadvantages of domestic entrepreneurs in cross-border freight traffic and in traffic with overseas containers. In particular, this provision exempts excess trailers from vehicle tax.

The procedure

The special regulation of § 10 KraftStG is only applied to a written application (constituent element). The vehicle owner can request that the tax is not levied for a particular trailer because it is only to be carried behind vehicles for which a tax increased by a trailer surcharge is levied or which is used exclusively for delivery or collection in accordance with Section 3 No. 9 KraftStG become.

The application can be combined with the application for registration of the trailer and the tax return and must be submitted in writing to the registration authority. After the green label has been assigned, the licensing authority forwards the relevant information to the main customs office via the data carrier exchange via the tax administration's computer center. A reference to Section 10 (1) KraftStG is sufficient as a justification for the application .

In this case, the trailer is assigned a license plate with green lettering on a white background when it is approved for use on public roads or when it is changed from “black” to “green” in accordance with Section 9 (2) FZV . This so-called "green label" is the prerequisite for tax exemption (element of the offense).

If the trailer is already registered, the corresponding application can also be submitted to the main customs office. However, the prerequisite is that the trailer is already equipped with a green license plate (constituent element). Failure to collect the tax should be treated as a tax exemption. The application as such constitutes a tax return within the meaning of § § 149  ff. AO . The reasons for the non-collection are to be inquired in writing from the vehicle owner before issuing a vehicle tax assessment within the scope of the investigations according to § 7 paragraph 1 sentence 2 KraftStDV by the KFSt. The application cannot be accepted without a written reply.

Note: The special regulation for vehicle trailers can in principle also be used for vehicles held by showmen. However, this does not apply to their caravan trailers. According to the law, caravan trailers are expressly excluded from the special regulation. If a trailer exempted according to § 10 KraftStG is to be used behind a showman tractor that is tax-exempt according to § 3 No. 8a KraftStG, a trailer surcharge must also be applied for for the tax-exempt tractor. The taxed caravan trailers can also be carried behind the towing vehicle, for which a trailer surcharge is levied, without any tax disadvantages.

Another element of the special regulation is that the same or another vehicle owner can apply under Section 10 (2) KraftStG to levy a tax that is increased by a trailer surcharge for a specific vehicle. The holder of the trailer and the towing vehicle do not have to be identical. The trailer surcharge for the towing vehicle entitles you to bring your own and third-party trailers for which the tax is not levied. Towing vehicles for which a tax increased by a trailer surcharge is levied may also carry trailers other than the exempted ones. This also applies if the owner of the towing vehicle does not have his own trailer. The exemption of the trailer according to § 10 KraftStG obliges the vehicle owner to ensure that the trailer may only be carried behind towing vehicles for which a surcharge of a sufficient amount has been set. The owner of the trailer does not need to own a towing vehicle.

Time of tax break

The exemption of a motor vehicle trailer according to § 10 KraftStG begins or changes from the day the application is submitted. The application as such is a constituent element! A retroactive determination or change of the trailer surcharge is generally not possible, except within the framework of the appeal period. This legal opinion is also confirmed by a number of FG and BFH judgments. Neither the content of the application actually intended by a vehicle owner in accordance with Section 10, Paragraph 2, Clause 1 of the KraftStG (trailer surcharge), nor the inaccuracy of the notification from the registration office about the content of such an application made to it can constitute a fact that the main customs office subsequently became aware of, which justifies a retrospective change to the vehicle tax assessment. Rather, the faulty or non-determination of a trailer surcharge by the main customs office due to a failure by the registration office is to be charged to the vehicle owner if he could have recognized the incorrectness of the tax assessment from the vehicle tax assessment for a tractor and could notify the main customs office of the error.

The amount of the tax

Legal position until August 31, 2007

The trailer surcharge is vehicle tax within the meaning of the law. According to § 10 KraftStG old version, the KraftStG for the towing vehicle and the surcharge for the trailer are to be treated independently of each other. However, the surcharge is to be set in one amount with the KraftSt for the towing vehicle. When calculating the increased tax, the motor tax for the towing vehicle and for the surcharge must be added together. Only then do the rounding provisions of the Euro Smoothing Act apply. The selected level of the trailer surcharge must correspond to the total weight of the heaviest trailer to be carried (for semi-trailers after deduction of the fifth wheel load). The amount of the trailer surcharge is derived from the six-stage table in Section 10 (3) KraftStG old version

1. GVW no more than 10,000 kg € 373.24
2. GVW more than 10,000 kg, but not more than 12,000 kg € 447.89
3. GVW more than 12,000 kg, but not more than 14,000 kg € 522.54
4th GVW more than 14,000 kg, but not more than 16,000 kg € 597.19
5. GVW more than 16,000 kg, but not more than 18,000 kg € 671.84
6th GVW more than 18,000 kg € 894.76

It is based on the total weight permitted under traffic law as notified by the registration office. The notification from the licensing authority already takes into account the reduction by the load on the trailer, rigid drawbar trailer and center axle trailer.

Note: the total weight of the heaviest trailer carried under traffic law is also relevant for the calculation of the tax if it exceeds the maximum weight of 40,000 kg for vehicle combinations. Likewise, if the vehicles are not fully loaded and thus do not exhaust the total weight possible under traffic law. If the vehicle is overloaded and the total weight permitted under traffic law is exceeded, only the total weight of the vehicle is to be used as the basis for calculation.

If a trailer is carried by a tractor for which the tax is not levied and which is heavier than the trailer surcharge set for the towing vehicle (impermissible use), the tax for the trailer is based on its permissible total weight according to § 9 Paragraph 1 No. 5 KraftStG. When determining the tax for the trailer, the too low trailer surcharge for the towing vehicle cannot be taken into account to reduce the tax.

Legal situation as of September 1, 2007

Section 10 of the KraftStG has been amended by Art. 1 No. 2 of the Act on the Amendment of Motor Vehicle Tax and Motorway Toll Regulations (KraftStGuaÄndG). Since September 1, 2007, the trailer surcharge for one year has been a uniform 373.24 euros.

The improper use

If the prerequisites for the motor vehicle tax relief no longer apply , the taxpayer is obliged to report this to the main customs office ( Section 7 (1) sentence 2 KraftStDV). The control of the special regulation is incumbent on the Federal Office for Goods Transport , which forwards control reports to the main customs office . Occasionally, customs and police authorities issue such notifications as part of traffic controls.

The provision of Section 10 (4) KraftStG is to be understood as meaning that vehicle tax must be levied on a trailer as soon as the trailer is used behind a tractor in Germany, contrary to the intention stated in the application pursuant to Section 10 (1) sentence 1 KraftStG, for which no - sufficient - trailer surcharge has been set according to Section 10 (3) KraftStG (impermissible use). If the tax liability according to § 10 Abs. 4 KraftStG has started, it ends at the earliest when the trailer is used again exclusively within the meaning of § 10 Abs. 1 KraftStG after the minimum tax period has expired. Otherwise, the (first) monthly period is followed by a further monthly period. The monthly minimum tax stipulated in Section 10 (4) of the KraftStG does not exclude the possibility that a trailer fuel tax can also be set for a longer period of time if it must be assumed that the unauthorized use will drag on without any significant interruption through all months of a setting period Has. However, a subsequent payment obligation is only justified as long as the exempted trailer is pulled in Germany by a tractor without a corresponding trailer surcharge, with the result that domestic rest periods as well as driving times abroad behind vehicles without a trailer surcharge are tax-free. The other statutory exemption regulations remain unaffected. The unauthorized use of the trailer only affects the taxation of the towing vehicle if it leads to an inappropriate use of the towing vehicle (e.g. vehicle is tax-free according to Section 3 No. 7 KraftStG).

Note: The subsequent collection of vehicle tax for vehicle trailers in accordance with Section 10 (4) of the KraftStG can be waived in individual cases on application under Section 163 AO for reasons of factual equity if the properly taxed towing vehicle and the beneficiary trailer become inoperable during a journey (e.g. due to an accident) and the trailer is towed by another towing vehicle to the nearest workshop or location without a trailer surcharge. If only the towing vehicle breaks down and the trailer remains ready for operation, the subsequent taxation of the trailer can also be waived for reasons of equity if it is towed by another towing vehicle without a trailer surcharge to a nearby parking space where it does not obstruct public traffic. The prerequisites for an equity decree are not met if the trailer is driven to the destination by another towing vehicle without a trailer surcharge.

In Germany, the following issues regularly lead to improper use of the trailer:

Domestic towing vehicles for which no or too little trailer surcharge is levied (exception: motor vehicles within the meaning of Section 3 No. 9 KraftStG).
Domestic towing vehicles with a red license plate ( Section 10 KraftStG only covers the holding of vehicles. However, red license plates are assigned).
Foreign towing vehicles

Special features for non-resident vehicles

The double taxation agreements on motor vehicle tax of the countries involved must be checked in individual cases.

Foreign trailers behind domestic towing vehicles

Foreign trailers behind domestic towing vehicles used in cross-border freight traffic are permitted under an exception ordinance to the StVZO as temporary traffic in the sense of the provisions of the ordinance on international motor vehicle traffic. The prerequisite for this is u. a. an international registration certificate. Under traffic law, these trailers remain vehicles registered in another country. You cannot therefore be taxed as a domestic trailer ( Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the KraftStG), but are subject to the provisions on the taxation of foreign vehicles ( Section 9, Paragraph 3, No. 2 of the KraftStG). However, if there is a reciprocity agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the relevant state and the requirements for the application of the agreement are met, taxation does not apply. This regulation also applies in cases in which owners of domestic tractors rent foreign motor vehicle trailers and use them for journeys in cross-border freight traffic to third countries. This regulation described above does not apply to foreign trailers in domestic freight traffic or for a rental period of more than 1 year and use behind domestic towing vehicles. The intergovernmental agreements and treaties must be checked in each individual case.

Domestic trailers behind foreign towing vehicles

If a foreign motor vehicle pulls a trailer exempted under Section 10 (1) of the KraftStG, the tax authorities are of the opinion that no trailer surcharge can be levied for the towing vehicle because the towing vehicles are exempt from the KraftStG due to an exemption agreement. So there is the fact of inadmissible use. The tax for the trailer according to Section 9 (1) No. 5 KraftStG is to be paid by its owner. This regulation also applies to towing vehicles that are exempt from vehicle tax under the Additional Agreement to the NATO Troop Statute.

Note: If, however, a domestic vehicle trailer, for which the vehicle tax is not levied, is carried abroad behind vehicles other than those specified in Section 10 (1) KraftStG (foreign towing vehicles), this is not considered improper use.