Sales tax (Germany)

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The sales tax ( VAT ) in Germany (colloquially mostly VAT ( VAT called)) is a Community tax , transfer tax and indirect tax . The Basic Law sees the import sales tax as a consumption tax, but the sales tax also as a transfer tax . In economic terms, it is a value-added tax , as it only taxes the difference between the proceeds from a delivery or service and the inputs made by other entrepreneurs. This tax system is also known as the “all-phase net system with input tax deduction”. The proportion of the sales tax paid by the buyer or seller depends on the respective price elasticities .

The normal tax rate is 19 percent. Certain services are taxed at a reduced tax rate of 7 percent in accordance with Section 12 (2) of the UStG or are tax-exempt in accordance with Section 4 of the UStG. The standard rate of 19 percent has been in effect since January 1, 2007, the reduced tax rate of 7 percent since July 1, 1983. In addition, § 24 UStG contains average rates for agricultural and forestry operations with a tax rate of 5.5% or Can be 10.7%. In addition, according to § 23 UStG, there are also average tax rates from the two tax rates for agricultural and forestry operations as well as certain companies and corporations.

In the course of the corona crisis , the Bundestag decided on June 29, 2020 to temporarily lower sales tax as part of the Second Corona Tax Aid Act. The Federal Council also agreed on the same day. The normal tax rate according to Section 28 Paragraphs 1 and 2 UStG from July 1 to December 31, 2020 is 16%, the reduced tax rate is 5%. In the opinion of the German Federal Ministry of Economics , sellers without price fixing should also be able to pass this benefit on to customers through flat-rate discounts in accordance with the Price Indication Ordinance .

Legal basis of sales tax

The legal basis for VAT can be found in

  • the sales tax directives (6th, 8th, 10th, 13th and 18th) of the European Union and the value added tax system directive 112/2006 / EC,
  • the 1st implementing regulation for the 6th Directive,
  • Regulation (EEC) No. 218/92 on administrative cooperation in the field of indirect taxation (VAT),
  • the sales tax law (UStG),
  • the VAT Implementation Ordinance (UStDV),
  • the tax code ,
  • the import sales tax exemption regulation 1993,
  • the VAT Refund Ordinance - UStErstV,
  • the VAT Responsibility Ordinance - UStZustV,
  • the Agreement such as the Supplementary Agreement to the NATO Forces Statute , the NATO Headquarters Supplementary Agreement and the Offshore Tax Agreement.

Administrative instructions on sales tax are contained in the Sales Tax Application Decree (UStAE), in which numerous letters from the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) have been incorporated, as well as letters from the highest financial authorities of the federal states and the regional tax offices . There are special leaflets from the BMF on certain areas of law.

Importance of sales tax

The sales tax is the culmination of one of the most important sources of revenue from federal , countries and communities . The share of sales tax in the tax revenue of the Federal Republic of Germany is usually a little over 30 percent in the individual budget years. After wage tax, sales tax is the second most important source of government income. According to the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF), sales tax revenue amounted to around 235 billion euros in 2018 and wage tax revenue was 251 billion euros.

Brief description of the sales tax system

Sales tax always falls on when the domestic one service by a company rendered or goods against payment is delivered. The normal tax rate is 19 percent. For certain sales there is a tax exemption ( § 4 UStG) or a reduced tax rate of currently 7 percent. Special forms are mixed tax rates, intra-community acquisition and the regulations based on the country of origin principle .

Combating VAT fraud

The sales tax review is regulated in § 27b UStG, according to which public officials of the tax authority can enter the properties and rooms of persons who carry out a commercial or professional activity independently during business and working hours in order to determine facts that are relevant for taxation can be significant within the meaning of the sales tax law . This is intended to ensure that sales tax is set and levied evenly. Living rooms may only be entered against the will of the owner to prevent urgent danger to public safety and order. Insofar as this is useful for determining tax relevance, the persons affected by the sales tax review must, upon request, submit records, books, business papers and other documents on the matters subject to the sales tax review and provide information to the officials entrusted with it. Despite the fight against, among other things, the reverse charge procedure (reversal of tax liability) , the annual damage caused by tax fraud , especially through carousel deals in Europe, is in the mid double-digit billion range.

Development of the sales tax rate

Development of sales tax revenue in Germany

year Total tax revenue in Germany
(billion euros)
VAT + Income
(billion euros)
Share of VAT in total tax revenue
1999 453 137 30.2%
2000 467 141 30.2%
2001 446 139 31.2%
2002 442 138 31.2%
2003 442 137 31.0%
2004 443 137 30.9%
2005 452 140 31.0%
2006 488 147 30.1%
2007 538 170 31.6%
2008 561 176 31.4%
2009 524 177 33.8%
2010 531 180 33.9%
2011 573 190 33.2%
2012 600 195 32.5%
2013 620 197 31.8%
2014 644 203 31.6%
2015 673 [00]210 31.2%
2016 706 [00]217 30.7%
2017 734 [00]226 30.8%
2018 776 [00]235 30.2%
2019 796 [00]243 30.5%

A study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Finance on the influence of demographic development on tax revenue calculated for models of population development that assume a decrease in the total population and an increase in the average age, by 2060 a significant relative reduction in sales tax revenue (as well as income tax revenue) compared to a Reference scenario that assumed the size and structure of the population remained unchanged.

Distribution of sales tax revenue

According to Articles 106 and 107 of the Basic Law, some of the sales tax revenue is due to the federal government, the federal states and the municipalities. The distribution standards themselves are laid down in the Standards Act and details in the Financial Equalization Act. The regulations are part of the state fiscal equalization between the different regional authorities within Germany and are often adapted.

The application of the law in the years from 2006 to 2013 led to an allocation of between 53 and 54.5% to the federal government, between 43.9 and 44.5% to the federal states and between 2 and 2.1% to the municipalities .

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ( Memento from December 8, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  2. As of January 23, 2014.
  3. Text and changes due to the Second Corona Tax Aid Act
  4. BGBl. I p. 1512
  5. Bundestag adopts second Corona Tax Aid Act. Bundestag , June 29, 2020, accessed on June 29, 2020 .
  6. Approval of the economic stimulus package, no concerns about the supplementary budget. In: BundesratKOMPAKT. Federal Council , June 29, 2020, accessed on June 29, 2020 .
  7. Unbureaucratic implementation of the VAT reduction for price information possible through flat-rate discounts. Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, June 12, 2020, accessed on June 12, 2020 .
  8. Sixth Council Directive 77/388 / EEC of May 17, 1977 on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to sales taxes - Common VAT system: uniform taxable assessment base
  9. Directive 2006/112 / EC of the Council of 28 November 2006 on the common VAT system
  10. Regulation (EC) No. 1777/2005 of the Council of October 17, 2005 laying down implementing provisions for Directive 77/388 / EEC on the common system of value added tax
  11. Regulation (EEC) No. 218/92 of the Council of January 27, 1992 on administrative cooperation in the field of indirect taxation (VAT)
  12. VAT Refund Ordinance - UStErstV
  13. Sales Tax Responsibility Ordinance - UStZustV
  14. ^ Federal Ministry of Finance: Sales Tax Application Decree .
  15. Sales tax application decree - Federal Ministry of Finance. Retrieved September 19, 2017 .
  16. 50 years of German VAT., January 2, 2018, accessed October 4, 2019 .
  17. a b The tax revenue of the federal and state governments in the 2018 budget, accessed on October 4, 2019 .
  18. Karsten Seibel: The 307 billion gap exposes Europe's great VAT fraud. In: Welt Online. January 8, 2020, accessed January 29, 2020 .
  19. Tax revenue by tax group., accessed on October 4, 2019 .
  20. ^ The tax revenues of the federal and state governments in the 2015 budget year., accessed on October 4, 2019 .
  21. ^ The tax revenues of the federal and state governments in the 2016 budget year., accessed on October 4, 2019 .
  22. The tax revenues of the federal and state governments in the 2017 budget year., accessed on October 4, 2019 .
  23. The tax revenue of the federal and state governments in the 2019 budget year., accessed on July 4, 2020 .
  24. Challenges for tax law due to demographic developments in Germany , report by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT on behalf of the BMF.
  25. ^ Text of the measure law - measure Act
  26. ^ Text of the Financial Equalization Act - FAG
  27. Changes to Section 1 of the Financial Equalization Act
  28. ^ Federal / State financial relations based on the financial constitution, 2014 edition, published by the Federal Ministry of Finance, p. 22.

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