Property tax (Germany)

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The property tax is in Germany a tax on the property , but also on building leases on land and their development ( substance control ). The legal basis for real estate tax is the Real Estate Tax Act (GrStG). An individual assessment rate for each municipality is applied to the unit value determined by the tax authorities after the property tax measurement amount has been determined . By applying different assessment rates, the property tax burden is different in different municipalities despite the same standard values. Property tax is one of the oldest known types of tax.

In a ruling of April 10, 2018, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court declared the determination of the unit values relevant for property tax in West Germany for houses and undeveloped land on the basis of the main finding of 1964 to be unconstitutional and called for a new regulation by December 31, 2019. On February 1 In 2019, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and the state finance ministers agreed on a model in which the property values, the age of buildings and the average rental costs are used. The agreement also provides for the possibility for the federal states to deviate from the national model and to introduce other calculation methods. Although the exact form has not yet been determined, the planned new regulation is in some cases already considered to be unconstitutional.


Real Estate Tax Act (GrStG) of December 1, 1936

The property tax is one of the oldest direct taxes and was originally called ecclesiastical and seigniorial basic tithes and ground rent (see: Zinsei and interest Bauer ) driven.

In the 18th century, the creation of the basic cadastre (cf. historically also Rhenish-Westphalian original cadastre ) and the refinement of the measurement according to type of crop and soil quality began . Corresponding laws were passed in Bavaria in 1811 , in Württemberg in 1821 , in Baden in 1854 and in Prussia in 1861 . As a result of Miquel's tax reform , the municipalities in Prussia received income from property tax from 1893. After the financial reform of the Reich in 1920, all federal states were obliged to exhaust the property tax.

In 1936 the different rules were standardized across the empire and the income from property tax was left to the municipalities. In 1951 the real estate tax law was passed in Germany. Since 1997, the unit values ​​have only been determined for the purposes of property tax , so-called requirement values have been in effect for inheritance and gift taxes .

Nature and legal responsibilities

The property tax is a real tax within the meaning of Section 3 (2  ) AO (also: property or property tax). The focus of real estate tax is not a natural or legal person , but an object: real estate . Since the property tax accrues to the municipalities according to Article 106, Paragraph 6 of the  Basic Law , it is a municipal tax .

The Basic Law provides for competing legislation for property tax in accordance with Article 105, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law . Since the federal government has made use of its legislative right, the property tax is a uniform federal tax. However, the Federal Council must approve changes to the law. The administrative authority was Art. 108 para. 2 GG both the countries (determination of the unit value) and on Art. 108 assigned to par. 4 of the Constitution to municipalities (fixing the property tax). Land free from municipalities (e.g. Berlin ) determine both the unit value and the property tax. There the tax is set and levied by the tax offices.

Occurrence and local political significance

Nationwide, property tax revenue amounted to around 13.7 billion euros in 2017 . Of this amount, 13.6 billion euros on the property tax B and EUR 0.1 billion in property tax A. For financial planning is it, however, as substance control is important because the property tax is a reliable factor. The unit values ​​of the plots are not very changeable or rather develop upwards through further development. In addition, there are practically no tax losses due to real liability and personal liability .

The revenue from property tax B accounts for between 10% in Bavaria and 16% in Saxony of the municipal tax revenue. Since 2009, the national average assessment rate has increased significantly from 400 to 469 points until 2014. On a national average, the municipalities of the regional states received 164 euros per inhabitant in 2017. The range is between 104 euros in Brandenburg and 290 euros in Bremen . At the individual parish level, the municipalities in the Bamberg district receive the lowest amounts at 75 euros and in Frankfurt am Main the highest at 302 euros per inhabitant. The municipality of Bergneustadt currently (as of August 2019) lists the assessment rates for basic taxation at 959 percent.

In general, it can be said that the volume increases with the size of the cities. In contrast to income and trade tax , this is not dependent on local economic power. Different income levels result from the rates established by the municipalities. Most municipalities have increased the assessment rates in recent years. Although the revenue per inhabitant or as measured by the financial budget appears to be relatively low, property tax B has developed into an important consolidation measure for the municipalities. One of the reasons is that the revenue is exclusively due to the municipalities and there is no contribution to the federal government or the federal states . This background means a relatively high acceptance of the property tax among the citizens.

state Revenue from property tax B in € million Per capita income from property tax B in € / Ew. Property tax at a rate of 100% in € / Ew. weighted average lifting rate
Baden-Württemberg 1,710 155.59 39.35 395%
Bavaria 1,757 136.40 34.75 392%
Berlin 0.804 224.04 27.66 810%
Brandenburg 0.261 104.67 25.77 406%
Bremen 0.197 290.84 42.37 586%
Hamburg 0.464 254.65 47.21 540%
Hesse 1,129 181.21 38.56 470%
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 0.175 109.14 25.74 424%
Lower Saxony 1,343 168.73 39.50 427%
North Rhine-Westphalia 3,623 202.49 35.72 566%
Rhineland-Palatinate 0.560 137.68 34.41 400%
Saarland 0.141 142.54 34.08 418%
Saxony 490 120.40 24.32 495%
Saxony-Anhalt 0.233 104.84 25.29 414%
Schleswig-Holstein 0.431 149.31 38.32 389%
Thuringia 231 107.40 24.64 435%
Germany ∑ 13,557 ∅ 164.19 ∅ 34.97 ∅ 469%

Source: Federal Statistical Office Series 14 Series 10.1 - 2017

Individual aspects of tax assessment

Subject of taxation

The basis for collecting the property tax is usually the individual property. From a legal point of view, however, the tax object is the economic unit Section 2 of the Valuation Act . Significant exceptions to the concept of real estate arise primarily in the agricultural and forestry sectors . Here, as a rule, all similarly usable properties of the same person within a municipality are combined into an economic unit. On the other hand, however, a single piece of land can also belong to different economic units. This is the case, for example, if a division is made according to the Condominium Act . Then there are as many economic units as there are residential or partial ownership rights.

Unit value

A distinction is made between real estate tax A ( agricultural - for land used by agriculture and forestry ) and real estate tax B ( structural - for land and buildings that have been developed or can be built on). The basis for calculating property tax is the unit value determined by the tax office . In Hamburg , the standard value depends on the type of property, the age of the building and its furnishings. In the new federal states , so-called substitute economic values ​​are the basis of calculation for agricultural and forestry assets; For certain rented residential properties and single-family houses, the municipalities themselves levy property tax on the basis of a substitute assessment basis, without the involvement of the tax administration. From 1960 to 1961 there was also a property tax C for land ready for construction.

Property tax base number

The property tax base is given as a proportion of the unit value and is used to calculate the base tax base . It depends on the type of property in question and, according to § 14 and § 15 of the Land Tax Act (GrStG) for the old federal states :

  • 6.0 ‰ for companies in agriculture and forestry,
  • 2.6 ‰ for single-family houses for the first 38,346.89 euros (75,000  DM ) of the unit value , 3.5 ‰ for the rest of the unit value ,
  • 3.1 ‰ for two-family houses and
  • 3.5 ‰ for all remaining properties, including single-family houses with residential / partial heritable building rights.

For the new federal states - with the exception of agricultural and forestry companies - the higher tax indexes (from 5 ‰ to 10 ‰) continue to apply on the basis of the old standard values ​​according to the ratios as of January 1, 1935.

Old buildings (in the case of single-family houses only for the part of the unit value that exceeds 15,338.76 euros)
  • 10 ‰ in all municipalities
Single-family houses in old buildings for the first or full 15,338.76 euros of the unit value
  • 10 ‰ in municipalities with up to 25,000 inhabitants
  • 8 ‰ in municipalities> 25,000 and <1,000,000 inhabitants
  • 6 ‰ in communities with more than 1 million inhabitants
New buildings (in the case of single-family houses only for that part of the unit value that exceeds EUR 15,338.76)
  • 8 ‰ in municipalities with up to 25,000 inhabitants
  • 7 ‰ in municipalities> 25,000 and <1,000,000 inhabitants
  • 6 ‰ in communities with more than 1 million inhabitants
Single-family houses of the new buildings for the first started or full 15,338.76 euros of the unit value
  • 8 ‰ in municipalities with up to 25,000 inhabitants
  • 6 ‰ in municipalities> 25,000 and <1,000,000 inhabitants
  • 5 ‰ in communities with more than 1 million inhabitants
Undeveloped land
  • 10 ‰ uniform

For the question of how many inhabitants can be assigned to a municipality, the result of the general census of June 16, 1933 (see: List of censuses in Germany ) is decisive. For the purposes of this ordinance, old buildings are buildings that were ready for occupancy before March 31, 1924. New buildings include buildings that were then ready for occupancy.

Calculation (standard value x property tax index x tax rate)

The standard value is multiplied by the property tax base number and the tax rate set by the municipality. The assessment rate is determined by resolution of the municipal council . The assessment rate is usually determined within the framework of the budget statute or a special assessment rate statute. However, the level of property tax can have an impact on population development (through moving in or out) , even if only marginally .

The annual tax regulation in Section 9 (1) of the Land Tax Act (GrStG) repeatedly causes astonishment among sellers of land . If a property is sold in the course of a year, the tax office changes the standard valuation notice with effect from the following January 1st. The tax-collecting municipality may not deviate from this. Thus, the property tax for the current year is required from the previous owner and the municipality does not contact the new owner until the following year. Despite the lack of a legal basis, there are some municipalities that, for reasons of administrative simplification, exempt from tax liability . B. rewrite to the first of the month following the handover of the property.


In 2013, the city ​​of Zweibrücken set an assessment rate of 300% for property tax A and a rate of 400% for property tax B. Using the example of a condominium , property tax B is calculated as follows:

Sample calculation of property tax
Zweibrücken Bergneustadt Hamburg
Unit value 10,000 EUR 100,000 EUR EUR 200,000
× Tax index 3.5 ‰ 3.5 ‰ 3.5 ‰
= Property tax base 35 EUR 350 EUR 700 EUR
× Assessment rate (property tax B) 400% 959% 540%
= Annual property tax 140 EUR 3,356.50 EUR EUR 3,780

The division is based on the division ratios entered in the land register. It has nothing to do with the respective purchase price of the property.

Since the property tax assessment rates are set by the cities and municipalities, the level of property tax varies greatly from region to region. A property tax of EUR 243.25 per year was due for an apartment in Duisburg at a rate of 695% in 2013 . After an increase in the assessment rate to 855% on January 1, 2015, the amount for the same apartment is 299.25 euros per year. Since then, the property tax in Duisburg has been around 114% higher than in Zweibrücken.

Nationwide attention was caused by the fact that the administration of the city of Bergneustadt ( North Rhine-Westphalia ) wanted to enforce an increase in the assessment rate for property tax B to more than three times the national average of 1255%. After public protests, the rate of assessment was increased to “only” 959%, ​​which still makes Bergneustadt the most expensive location in Germany for property tax B (as of 2016).

If you only consider municipalities with at least 20,000 inhabitants, there are nine of the ten highest assessment rates in North Rhine-Westphalia (as of January 2018). Witten has the peak value (910%). Hattingen with 875% and Duisburg with 855% are in second and third place. The first city in the ranking that is not in the price-leading North Rhine-Westphalia is Berlin , which ranks ninth with a rate of 810%. Ingelheim am Rhein in Rhineland-Palatinate has the lowest assessment rate at only 80%.

In 2018, on behalf of Haus & Grund, the Institute of German Business examined the property tax burden of a family in the 100 largest cities in Germany by population. For the comparison, the annual property tax of a model family in these cities, consisting of four people, was used. The study came to the conclusion that the property tax burden differs by several hundred euros per year depending on where you live. A 4-person household in Gütersloh or Regensburg pays an average of EUR 323 or EUR 335 per year in property tax B. In Berlin , Duisburg or Witten , on the other hand, the property tax is an average of EUR 686, EUR 724 and EUR 771, respectively.

In many cities in Baden-Württemberg , the analysis found relatively low assessment rates that are exploding in cities and communities in North Rhine-Westphalia . 80 percent of the cities in the lower quarter of the ranking are in North Rhine-Westphalia with Witten at the bottom . The North Rhine-Westphalian city of Gütersloh achieved first place with the cheapest property tax, followed by southern German cities. Between Gütersloh and Witten there is a difference of almost 450 euros per year. According to the analysis, this example clearly shows how wide the range of municipal assessment rates is. The ranking - based on a sample household with four people - was won by the city of Gütersloh in first place with a rate of 381% and an annual property tax of 323 euros. At the bottom of 100th place is Witten with a rate of 910% and an annual property tax of 771 euros.

Church property tax

In some regions of Germany, church tax is also levied as an annex tax to property tax A , provided that the property owner is liable to church tax. The legal basis is the church tax laws of the federal states. The decision as to whether and to what extent church property tax is levied lies with the respective regional churches or dioceses . Church property tax is only levied in the old federal states , with the exception of Bremen . The usual rate is 10% of the base tax base. Compared to the total church tax revenue, the church property tax is of subordinate importance. In 2008, it only contributed 0.04% to the total tax revenue of the EKD .


Under certain conditions, property tax can be waived on application. Sections 32 to 34 of the Land Tax Act (GrStG) regulate further details . The regulation is important, for example, for owners of properties that are subject to monument protection . If the costs are higher than the income here, there is a legal right to remission. However, due to differing views on the allocation of costs and income, but also due to lack of knowledge, there are often lawsuits before administrative courts . Associations and institutions dealing with the protection of historical monuments, such as: B. the Interest Group Farm House (IGB).

Applications must always be submitted by March 31 for the previous year. Permanent waiver is possible. The prerequisite for the waiver is that the rental loss of a landlord was caused through no fault of his / her own. These include vacancies , structural non-rentability or a general decline in rent. In addition, unforeseeable events such as an apartment fire or water damage can justify tax exemption. If the rental income is more than 50% below the usual gross income, the landlord can receive a 25% discount. If no income is generated at all, he can count on a 50% waiver ( Section 33 of the Real Estate Tax Act ).

Tax collection

Property tax as a property-related tax has procedural and property law privileges over other types of tax:



If a property is transferred in whole or in part to another person in accordance with Section 11 (2) of the Land Tax Act (GrStG), the purchaser is liable in addition to the previous owner for the property tax applicable to the tax item or part of the tax item for the period since the beginning of the last was payable in the calendar year prior to the transfer. Claims are made in accordance with Section 191, Paragraph 1 of the Tax Code (AO) by means of a notice of liability .

Real liability, tolerance

According to § 12 GrStG, the property tax rests on the tax object as a public burden . It is therefore not necessary to secure the tax claim by registering a compulsory security mortgage . By virtue of the law, the property tax creditor can access the property like a secured creditor with the priority privilege in accordance with Section 10 (1) No. 3 ZVG to enforce his claim . If there have been several changes of ownership of a property in the recent past, it is advisable for prospective buyers to have the municipality confirm that the property tax has been paid in full or to ask the seller to provide evidence of this. The claim is made in accordance with § 191 Paragraph 1, § 77  AO by means of a tolerance notice . According to § 48  AO or § 268 Paragraph 3 BGB , the claim can be averted by (third party) payment.

Property law

According to Section 10 (1) No. 3 ZVG, the property tax creditor has a preferential right to satisfaction from the property due to the claim to current property tax and for arrears from the last two years. In the event of an application for a foreclosure sale , a loss of rank is excluded within two years of the due date of the property tax that has become in arrears.

Determination of property tax, legal recourse

With the exception of the city-states, property tax is set by the municipalities . In the communities, the permissible's appeal against the basic tax notice of objection and / or direct action before the administrative courts (z. B. in Bavaria Art. 15 para. 1 AGVwGO) to respective state law, not the opposition to § 347 ff. AO. Accordingly, outside the city states, legal recourse must be taken before the administrative court and not before the tax court . If the cause lies in an incorrect determination of the property tax base set by the tax office, the objection is admissible.

Constitutionality and reform considerations

Several constitutional complaints against the levying of property tax on owner-occupied property were not accepted for decision by the Federal Constitutional Court , for example in 2006 and 2009.

The Federal Fiscal had in two judgments the constitutionality of governing the property tax unit values called into question, but without first to make a submission to the Federal Constitutional Court.

In a decision of April 13, 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court largely upheld a constitutional complaint against several financial and administrative court decisions (including the Federal Fiscal Court) and the underlying administrative acts, which had also been raised indirectly against the Real Estate Tax Act in conjunction with the Valuation Act.

With a resolution dated October 22, 2014, the Federal Fiscal Court submitted the regulations on the uniform assessment to the Federal Constitutional Court in an appeal procedure in order to examine the constitutionality. He considered the regulations on the unit valuation (at the latest) from the valuation date January 1, 2009 to be unconstitutional because the relevance of the value ratios on the main assessment date January 1, 1964 for the unit valuation would lead to consequences that would with the general principle of equality ( Art. 3 para. 1 GG ) are no longer compatible. On November 15, 2017, the Federal Constitutional Court announced an oral hearing in the matter of “uniform valuation for the assessment of property tax” on January 16, 2018.

Because of constitutional doubts, experts have been calling for a fundamental reform of the property tax for a long time. The aim is a legal and administrative simplification and a steering effect adapted to today's requirements. In January 2010, the Finance Ministers' Conference of the Federal States (FMK) entrusted a working group with drafting the reform. In January 2011, the FMK commissioned the working group to evaluate the following basic tax models:

A report by the working group with the results of the investigation on these three model variants has not yet been published. The Central Association of German Crafts has published a compilation of their advantages and disadvantages .

In June 2015 the majority of the Finance Ministers' Conference decided not to pursue the three models examined so far and instead to design a new model based on flat-rate material assets. This model was adopted by a majority of finance ministers on June 3, 2016, against the votes of Bavaria and Hamburg . A decision that appropriate bill , the countries of Hesse in the September 23, 2016 and Lower Saxony Federal introduced.

All of the model variants mentioned have in common that the reformed property tax is based on a linked assessment base as before, i.e. H. Both the property (land, land) and the building on it serve as the tax base. Two well-known model variants with an unconnected tax base, the sole taxation of the land, have not yet been examined in more detail by the Conference of Finance Ministers. An appeal published in December 2012 by several mayors and since then supported by numerous other mayors, associations, organizations and private individuals, “ Property tax: contemporary! "Criticizes this and appeals to the conference of finance ministers to supplement the model studies with the" pure land value tax "and the" combined land value and land area tax ". The model variants presented so far by the Finance Ministers' Conference are not the right answer to today's challenges ( climate protection , demographic change , ensuring quality of life and municipal finances).

The call refers to a municipal practical test, from which the “pure land value tax” and the “combined land value and land area tax” emerged as preferable. Particular emphasis was placed on the positive effects on the scarce commodity land, on the ability to generate urgently needed space for residential and commercial purposes locally, on rent reductions that would be associated with an increase in the supply of space, and on necessary investments in the building stock.

In October 2015, these advantages were confirmed by a study by the Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft , which also recommends that the property tax be structured as a land tax. In contrast, the draft law presented by the states of Hesse and Lower Saxony on September 23, 2016 has been heavily criticized or fundamentally questioned from several sides. The Bundesrat's draft law reached the Bundestag in December 2016 , but was not passed there. Since the 2017 Bundestag election and in accordance with the current principle of discontinuity , it is now up to the Bundesrat to submit the same or a new, amended draft bill to the Bundestag. According to statements by the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany eV (BUND), the reform is "long overdue".

Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of 2018

In 2018, the Federal Constitutional Court dealt with three submissions from the Federal Fiscal Court and two constitutional complaints . In a ruling of April 10, 2018, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court declared the determination of the unit values ​​relevant for property tax in West Germany for houses and undeveloped land on the basis of the main finding of 1964 to be unconstitutional, as these are completely outdated and do not allow equal treatment. The judges objected to the considerable distortions in value and demanded a new regulation by December 31, 2019. If the deadline is not met, the previous property tax would cease to exist without compensation. However, the Federal Constitutional Court ordered that, following the new regulation, the previous provisions may still be applied for a further five years from the pronouncement of the judgment on April 10, 2018, i.e. until April 10, 2023 (but no later than December 31, 2024). For calendar years after the expiry of the period of validity , no more charges may be based on final property tax assessments based on the provisions of the Valuation Act that have been declared unconstitutional .

Around 35 million properties are affected. Properties located in East Germany were not the subject of the proceedings due to the lack of a constitutional complaint , but are also affected by the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court on January 1, 1935, due to the fact that the main finding date was even earlier.

Legislative procedure, possible property tax models, costs

Do the states deviate from federal legislation?

At the beginning of February 2019, the federal and state governments agreed on a key points paper for the property tax reform. Even then, the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder rated this critically. A model should then be introduced in which the property values, the age of buildings and the average rental costs form the basis for the collection of property tax. Bavaria , on the other hand, with its particularly high property values, was in favor of a tax calculation based on areas that is as unbureaucratic as possible.

As of July 7, 2019, Bavaria and Saxony also want to go their own way and, should the federal government pass the reform law with an opening clause for the federal states, it will definitely make use of it. The Free State of Saxony would loudly Finance Minister Matthias hatred a simple model that takes into account regional differences and to avoid tax increases and how the Free State of Bavaria to abide by only the size of a lot. Every homeowner should pay real estate tax. It will be passed on to tenants.

Also, Hamburg , North Rhine-Westphalia , Hesse and Lower Saxony reflected on their own way. At the request of the German press agency , however, there was no confirmation from the state finance ministries in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. Both countries want to first analyze the present draft law at the federal level.

The finance minister of Baden-Württemberg , Edith Sitzmann, favors the land value model for her state. Six Lord Mayors made a corresponding request in a letter to Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann in September 2019.

Opening clause, amendment to the Basic Law

Both the land tax law and the valuation law , according to § 19 of which the unit valuation is determined, are federal laws . If the federal states are to have leeway for deviating property taxes by way of an opening clause , the Basic Law must be changed for this and the opposition ( FDP and Greens ) must also agree. The opening clause was one of the main topics of dispute between the federal government, states, municipalities and the real estate and housing industry over the new property tax. The SPD rejects them, the CSU spoke out in favor. On July 1, 2019, it became known that even the Finance Minister of Schleswig-Holstein , Monika Heinold ( Bündnis90 / Die Grünen ), was rejecting an opening clause. The Minister confessed to the federal government's draft law and did not want a separate route. However, she experiences opposition, also from the grand coalition .

On June 16, 2019, the grand coalition agreed on the reform. A comprehensive bill was already available on June 25, 2019, which the Federal Council finally approved on November 8, 2019. This means that the reform was able to come into force just in time for the deadline set by the Federal Constitutional Court on January 1, 2020. A total of three bills reforming the property tax were introduced. The draft of a law amending the Basic Law stipulated that the federal government should be given legislative authority to regulate property tax and that the states should be granted different regulatory authority through an amendment to Art. 72 (3) of the Basic Law.

The main draft law deals with the reform of the property tax and a law amending the property tax law to mobilize building plots for development. Cities and municipalities should then be able to levy an increased property tax rate on plots ready for building. According to the SPD's plan, a “package for affordable housing”, the creation of additional living space and ecological living (see ecological building , sustainable building ) should also be launched by the end of August 2019 .

In the value-dependent model, which Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz considers the best, the property values ​​and the age of buildings are used for the calculation. This model was the basis of a key points paper for a first meeting of finance ministers in February 2019. Now the federal states could, for example, base the calculation of the property tax purely on the property area or even introduce a pure land tax (without building components) instead of using the valuation model calculate as provided by federal law. The SPD wants to avoid tax competition between the federal states and should also not have any different calculation methods on payments in the federal state financial equalization . Scholz emphasized that it should not be at the expense of financially weaker countries if the federal legislation is deviated from. In the course of several revisions to his draft, the minister promised that there would be no higher tax burdens for owners and tenants. Nevertheless, the SPD wants to completely prohibit the apportionment of property tax to the additional rental costs.

At the first reading in the Bundestag on June 27, 2019, Scholz referred to "simplifications for apartment and house owners". In future there should only be five to eight criteria for the calculation, instead of the previous thirty. According to his plans, the land value and the average rent should also be decisive in the future , but the federal states may deviate from this regulation. So far, landlords have been able to pass the costs on to their tenants. Scholz once again emphasized that property tax revenue from currently 15 billion euros should not increase. That this does not happen, however, is ultimately in the hands of the 11,000 municipalities in Germany.

Bernhard Daldrup (SPD) , a member of the German Bundestag , sharply criticized the Bavarian special route. In his opinion, the area model is not fair and a large plot of land is valued more expensive than a small plot of land with a villa in the center of a large city. Daldrup raised another problem, the opening clause . There is a risk that tax law will “fray”. The clause can be used by any federal state.

Voices in the associations

A broad alliance of associations has responded to the call “ Property tax: contemporary! “Connected. The call calls for the reform towards a land value tax. The supporters include a. the NABU , the BUND , the institute of the German economy , the German tenants' association , the industrial union building-agrar-environment , the union of German architects , and 30 other associations and organizations.

At the 37th German Evangelical Church Congress in June 2019, the members passed the resolution : “For fair and sustainable land management using a land value tax”. The resolution is directed against Olaf Scholz's reform model and calls for the building tax to be abandoned in favor of a land value tax.

Both the housing and real estate industries favor the area model, not the value model. The GdW Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies continues to call for improvements. In the opinion of its general manager Ingeborg Esser, the land values should fall from the property tax calculation. Nor should individual owners benefit from a reduced tax index. Evidence of rent that does not cover costs must be given special attention, which is not provided for. On the other hand, owners who achieve higher rents than the average rent would be relieved.

The real estate association IVD hopes that as many countries as possible will introduce the area model. Instead of a “patchwork of individual regulations”, as many countries as possible, such as Bavaria, should opt for the area model. In the worst case, there would be two different models for the future collection of property tax in Germany.

Kai Warnecke, President of Haus & Grund Germany , referred to the first results of a current survey. Then more than 1,600 mayors in municipalities with over 10,000 inhabitants were written to and asked whether they would adjust their assessment rates so that the property tax revenue in the municipality would remain roughly the same. So far, only 619 answers have been received. 22 percent of these indicate that the municipalities are making such an adjustment and thus want to ensure revenue neutrality. 63 percent of those questioned, however, do not know how they will react. Warnecke: "That is clear evidence of the uncertainty in the municipalities".

In a guest article ( Hamburger Abendblatt of July 27, 2019), Andreas Breitner , Director of the Association of North German Housing Companies (VNW) , shows possible developments that make people sit up and take notice : "Hamburgers are threatened with losing their home" . Breitner writes that - as long as the income from the property tax is to remain the same - this does not rule out that the tax increases significantly in certain regions and decreases in others. The reason for this is the different development in land prices. In a district like Eimsbüttel, for example, they have increased significantly more than in Jenfeld in recent decades .

When Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz ( SPD ) was Hamburg's first mayor , he vehemently rejected the value model, although he knew that property values ​​had increased significantly , especially in Hamburg . As Federal Minister, however, he favored the value model. Scholz's successor, Peter Tschentscher , pleaded for the surface model at the hearing before the Federal Constitutional Court . Senator for Finance Andreas Dressel (SPD) made it clear: "We want to avoid dramatic effects on owners and tenants." However, this could only mean the area model advertised by the housing cooperatives and housing associations organized in the Association of North German Housing Companies (VNW). Otherwise Hamburg citizens threatened to have to pay significantly more property tax.

The value model would primarily affect those people who live in a hip neighborhood like Altona or Eimsbüttel , who would have to expect a hefty premium. Because here the property values ​​"went through the roof". That only has a financial impact if you sell. But if you want to live there, you have to pay the new property tax to compensate for the value of the property from which you have nothing. That is unjust. People with middle and low incomes are threatened with losing their home. They would be evicted from their homes by a wrong Senate tax ruling.

Sharp criticism of the property tax model sought by the Hamburg Senate is exercised by the “ Property tax: contemporary! “, Because this prefers the wealthy and is presumably unconstitutional.

Amount of future property tax and calculation

The question now is what exactly the taxpayers will have to do with the new property tax. All properties in Germany must be re-assessed by January 1, 2022, and every seven years thereafter. The new property tax is due to become due for the first time on January 1, 2025. According to calculations by the Taxpayers' Association, the eastern German states could be the losers: “In our examples, there are also cases in which the burden decreases slightly. But overall there are on average around 70 percent more property taxes ”.

A constitutional problem that is not easy to solve is seen in the question of whether it can be justified to turn a property tax , which may be considerably higher in the future for many of those affected, into a hidden wealth tax if the property tax is no longer at the values ​​of 1935 (East) or 1964 (West), but is linked to the current values ​​of a house, property or apartment.

The mere acquisition and ownership of a property for which real estate transfer tax has already been due does not have to go hand in hand with increased financial performance, on the contrary, if, for example, a single-family house was created over the course of several decades from earned income or it has not yet been fully paid off. In addition, the general discussion is whether the institute of property tax, and this via widely differing assessment rates , can be suitable to only use certain people to finance municipal tasks. They too could not use streets, baths, museums and the rest of the communal infrastructure in any other way than citizens, who do not have to make a contribution because they do not own real estate, but could also make a contribution (see efficiency principle , taxation principles , fair taxation , also " horizontal and vertical tax justice ”).

In any case, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is assuming that cities and municipalities will “dramatically lower their assessment rates across the board”. The German Association of Cities also rejected speculation that the municipalities will resort to drastic tax increases. Verena Göppert, Deputy General Manager of the German Association of Cities, believes that the municipalities will change their assessment rates in such a way that they roughly reach today's income. As he said in April 2019, Scholz wanted to give the municipalities some “leverage” for housing construction. The property tax C for undeveloped areas should be reintroduced. The reintroduction of property tax C was agreed by the CDU , CSU and SPD in the coalition agreement.

When determining the value of a building in the future, proceed as follows:

  • It doesn't matter what it once cost. The normal production costs (cf. material value method , required value ) for the respective type of building and unit of area are assumed. In order to simplify the assessment, a classification is carried out depending on the year of construction. This concerns buildings that were erected before 1995 and that have a lower standard in terms of energy properties . A higher standard is assumed for years of construction from 2005. The so-called normal production costs are determined based on the status of 2010 and adjusted using construction price indices, based on data from the Federal Statistical Office .
  • The building has exceeded its useful life seen tax (the bill increases for residential buildings 80 office buildings age of 60), the value of the building is regularly with at least thirty percent of the building normal production value to be set.
  • In future, the heritable building right will be combined with the encumbered land to form an economic unit in order to determine the assessment basis for property tax . Leaseholders will pay more in the future: Contrary to the previous assessment system, the leaseholder will be assigned the total value of land and buildings.
  • When considering the rents in the discounted earnings method , the real contractual relationships are not important. The declaration of the actual rental income by the taxpayer and the determination of a normal rent are unnecessary. For reasons of simplification , the gross profit is to be collected on the basis of the average net cold rents per square meter of living space derived from the microcensus of the Federal Statistical Office , which are divided into three types of property, three groups of living space and five groups of years of construction.

In order to determine the property tax values, the basic right to inviolability of the apartment should be restricted: "The tax authorities can make local surveys of the valuation bases to prepare a main assessment and to carry out assessments of the property values ".

Even before the new property tax law is passed, there are significant differences that taxpayers could make when applying the municipal assessment rate. Martin Murrack, treasurer and city director of Duisburg , said that his income, which currently amounts to 135.4 million euros annually, should remain the same even after the reform, but also: "Some will pay more, others less". In Duisburg the council raised the assessment rate to a high 855% due to financial difficulties, a peak value in the Ruhr area . Murrack couldn't say when it could be lowered again. The treasurer looks at neighboring cities with interest, who at the same time warns of a tax competition . Essen reckons with 670%, Bochum only with 645%. Only Mülheim is even higher than Duisburg with 890%.

The Berlin Senate, on the other hand, wants to lower the property tax. Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz expects only minor changes for owners. According to current model calculations, the state of Berlin wants to reduce its assessment rate for property tax from 810 to around 600 percentage points. In the past few weeks, various bills had predicted a sharp increase, which Kollatz had countered: "We are not seeing the significant increases in tax payments that some have forecast". According to expert analyzes, the fluctuations up or down are all small. It is about sums for an apartment that should rarely amount to 100 euros a year.

The tax must be levied in such a way that it takes the value of a property into account appropriately, but is ultimately revenue-neutral. For Berlin, this means that the country is not allowed to take more than it did before the reform. However, Kollatz: "Whenever there is a house where more property tax is due, there has to be another house that pays less". Since many properties in Berlin have greatly increased in value in recent years, countermeasures should be taken by lowering the assessment rate. For a property in the former West Berlin , this means that even if there was a significant (e.g. 15-fold) increase in value, the property tax would remain the same. Kollatz: "If it is lower, it will be a little less and, if it is higher, it will be a little more".

The Berlin Senator for Finance also assumes that the property tax on rental housing construction will be lower than before and will rise in high-price areas: “But the properties are also extremely valuable. If you buy a condominium on Pariser Platz , you will have to pay a little more, and that is what the Federal Constitutional Court said ”. For a rental apartment in the Märkisches Viertel or in Marzahn-Hellersdorf , however, the property tax will be lower in the future.

In the opinion of the Senator of Finance, there is yet another effect that will reduce taxes on the recalculation: “The measurement that the federal government will use is roughly a tenth of the current value. The effect for the tax will therefore only be a tenth ”.

In the report by rbb24 of July 11, 2019, the previous method of calculating property tax was also published briefly and clearly:

  • The real estate tax index is a proportion of the unit value - different depending on the type of property or building . For apartments, for example, it is 3.5 per thousand. If the standard value is 20,000 euros, the base tax base is 70 euros (20,000 divided by 1,000, multiplied by 3.5).
  • These 70 euros are multiplied by the assessment rate set individually by each municipality. If it is 500 percent, the tax is 350 euros per year. The assessment rate is very different depending on the municipality and ranges from less than 100 to more than 900 percent.

Landlords and tenants, real estate tax on rents apportionable

So far, the landlord of living space may pass the property tax on to the tenant as operating costs as part of the ancillary cost settlement ( Section 2 No. 1 Operating Costs Ordinance ) and deduct the property tax paid as income- related expenses from the income from renting and leasing . The property tax collected from the tenants in the course of the ancillary cost settlement, on the other hand, is part of the income from renting and leasing.

During the deliberations on the property tax reform, the SPD finance politician Carsten Schneider spoke out in favor of the property tax no longer being added to the ancillary rental costs in the future. In addition to the property tax reform, he recommended changing the operating costs ordinance and prohibiting the apportionment of property tax on rents. Schneider reacted to a warning from the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) about rising rents due to higher property taxes. This primarily affects large cities like Berlin and Munich with a shortage of living space and already high rents. If the property tax is actually no longer apportionable, it is feared that this will drive up the cold rents . Owners could also hold back on modernization and refurbishment, especially when their profitability calculations are in danger.

The property tax is of great importance for the nationwide more than 11,000 municipalities , which annually receive around 14 billion euros from it: "You shouldn't care who you get it from". The German Institute for Economic Research calculated years ago that around 22 percent of private landlords generate losses with their property and a further 28 percent achieve an annual net return of a maximum of 2 percent with their property.

On July 2, 2019, the Wall Street Journal wrote an in-depth article on the subject. So far, property tax has been one of the apportionable costs, provided this has been agreed in the rental agreement. The tenant pays a tax that actually affects the owner and does not increase the usefulness and value of the rental property. Now there could be a change that would relieve tenants. Stefan Schmidt , ( Bündnis90 / Die Grünen ): “We would like to remove the ability to pay. The property tax may no longer be passed on to the tenants ”.

According to Christian von Stetten (CDU) , this aspect is now becoming particularly explosive because the recently passed law on property tax lacks a clear commitment to apportionability. In a letter to Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU) and Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) , von Stetten wrote: "Since the apportionment eligibility can be changed later through government action without a Bundestag resolution, this sentence in the justification of the law is of particular importance and must be reinstated" .

Johannes Fechner , legal policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group , says: "I have serious doubts as to whether, in view of the skyrocketing rents, the ability to pay can remain."

Andreas Jung , CDU negotiator in matters of property tax: "It remains with the apportionability, that is the decision-making in the grand coalition".

Michael Theurer , FDP parliamentary deputy : "We will only be able to approve the amendment to the Basic Law if there are substantial changes to the draft law". The FDP is in favor of maintaining the apportionability, but wants to support self-users by receiving an exemption.

Rainer Zitelmann , historian, author, real estate expert: "Once the ability to apportion the property tax to tenants has been eliminated, as the Greens , the SPD and the left are calling for, then we will experience increases of unimaginable proportions: because if these increases only the bad 'rental sharks" hit, but no longer the tenants, there will be no more scruples about dramatically increasing property tax. So the clammy municipalities want to renovate themselves at the expense of the landlord ”. The victims of the real estate tax reform are owners and landlords, who have to pay the real estate tax if the apportionability ceases and in the end can not increase the net rent because the so-called rent cap may even demand a reduction in the rent. However, the fact that the rent cap for Berlin is unconstitutional speaks against this scenario .

On July 12, 2019, it was reported to the question “New property tax, will rents rise now?” That the federal government had no answer. They did not collect any information about the extent to which owners pass property tax on the rents. Dietmar Bartsch , parliamentary group leader of the Left , had received the answer from the parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance , Bettina Hagedorn (SPD) , that the property tax should not be shown individually in the income tax return and remarked that there was therefore no statistical data on this question. Bartsch then sharply criticized the grand coalition : “The fact that the federal government wants to reform the property tax without knowing whether the tenants will pay two or 12 billion is outrageous”. Tenants would have to know how much they are burdened by the apportionability and how much the landlords are relieved by the deductibility.

Cost of reform

It is assumed that the effort required to implement the new regulations will result in total personnel costs of around EUR 462 million in the tax offices . In addition, there is an expense for specialist services , business office, IT office , mail distribution, etc., which entails personnel costs of around 76 million euros, all spread over the years from 2022 to 2028. Bavaria's Finance Minister Albert Füracker says that there is more of around 2,500 additional tax officials and probably means the Free State of Bavaria alone .

Hamburg demands reimbursement of costs by the federal government for the states

Media reports on August 27, 2019, according to the implementation of the tax reform envisioned by Finance Minister would Olaf Scholz for single Hamburg 15 million euros mean of additional personnel and material costs. This regardless of which basic tax model (value model, area model) ultimately comes into play. The Hamburg Senate has not yet decided whether to use the opening clause and use the area model instead of a value-dependent model. Finance Senator Andreas Dressel ( SPD ) wants to wait for the ongoing deliberations from the federal and state governments.

The city of Hamburg wants to ensure that the federal government reimburses the states for the expected costs of the reform, which would be around 500 million euros nationwide. Hamburg would account for around 15 million euros, which would have to employ 100 additional employees. In addition, Hamburg wants that when determining the standard land values, no reference date values are used, but average values ​​of the last seven years. This should have a "dampening effect". Furthermore, according to the will of the City of Hamburg, dormitories for trainees and students are to be given tax breaks. An “alliance for tax administration” should be forged to relieve the financial burden on federal states and municipalities when implementing the property tax reform.

Municipalities without property tax

There are twelve municipalities nationwide that do not levy any property tax. Seven are in Rhineland-Palatinate .


  • Friedrich Ludwig Freiherr von Berlepsch , "On property tax in Germany and a complete outline of Westphalian financial history and the administration of state assets in the Kingdom of Westphalia", Göttingen 1814, 2 volumes
  • Reinhard Stöckel: Property tax law. 2nd Edition. Deutscher Gemeindeverlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-555-01440-1 .

Web links

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