• Germany's news in English
 

What’s new in 2013

Published: 01 Jan 2013 07:04 GMT+01:00

Public broadcasting fees

In the past, if you tried to get out of paying your GEZ public broadcast licence fees, you had to worry about collectors showing up at your door. Anyone with a TV, radio, or computer was obliged to register and pay up – and the more devices you had, the higher your fees. But a growing number of people were content to simply dodge or deceive the enforcers, leaving the GEZ with dwindling revenues. Now nearly everyone is going to be forced to shell out for Germany's public broadcasters. Each household will be made to pay a flat monthly contribution of €17.98 – TV or no TV, and regardless of the number of people living there. Those who are unemployed or seriously ill can receive exemptions or apply to pay a reduced sum.

Doctor's office co-pay

Perhaps even more unpopular than TV fees have been the €10 patients have to plunk down to see a doctor in Germany. Introduced in 2004, the quarterly fee – known as the Praxisgebühr – was meant to reduce unnecessary trips to medical specialists. Instead, it has increased overhead for clinics and surgeries. The German government finally agreed in November to axe the co-payment after months of wrangling between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and their junior partners the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

Childcare benefit

In exchange for winning the concession on the Praxisgebühr, the FDP agreed to back a new benefit for parents who care for their young children at home, starting in August 2013. Dubbed Betreuungsgeld, the €100 a month per child not in day care is hated by just about everyone except the CSU, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Besides the added disincentive for women to go back to work, the benefit is considered highly detrimental to the language skills of kids from immigrant families.

Wage tax cards

Germany has been preparing to make the switch to an electronic version of the wage tax card for a while now. After multiple delays, the system is finally going digital – meaning employees will no longer have to hang onto a flimsy piece of coloured paper containing important information, such as their income tax class and child deductions. For employers, it means tapping into a centralized database to calculate employees' tax burden for a given pay period. And for everyone, that should mean less paperwork. Although things were supposed to be in place by January, employers will have the whole year to adjust to the digital system.

Tax breaks for electric cars

From 2013, people who choose an electric vehicle will be freed from car taxes (Kfz-Steuer) for ten instead of five years. The tax break is also valid for fuel cell-powered vehicles.

Long-distance buses

Domestic train services and budget airlines will face new competition from long-distance coaches in the coming year. After months of negotiations, the German government agreed to allow private bus companies to compete with state-subsidized public transport. But their stops must be at least 50 kilometres apart.

Energy efficiency renovations

A new scheme will offer up to €5,000 to help offset the cost of building renovations for energy efficiency. The federal government will pony up €300 million for the measures.

Stamp prices

The post office will raise the price for a normal letter in Germany from €0.55 to €0.58. The hike is the first in 15 years.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:25 January 1, 2013 by gorongoza
There is no value for money to listeners/viewers who sustain this monster called GEZ.
12:14 January 1, 2013 by sylaan
I think the GEZ fee is stupid beyond belief, even more now. Why the hell should someone without TV pay for this? Why should I be forced to pay for a TV station I never watch? I simply have no words to express how retarded this is.
13:56 January 1, 2013 by DinhoPilot
GEZ is the same as the UK Tv license without BBC.

The price is slightly higher in Germany, but it is natural because of the new services added like digital radio, HD TV, 3D, and all of that pause rewind fancy stuff.

At least be glad you don't pay council tax
14:00 January 1, 2013 by greatgerman
I am unemployed and i would like to get exempted fom GEZ. So could any one suggest what could i do......Filling out forms or so whatever.....
14:03 January 1, 2013 by lucksi
BBC at least has some quality programming to show for the fees.
14:16 January 1, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
BBC does not show advertisements. German TV bombards you with advertisements. It is almost like we pay to produce the advertisements.
14:40 January 1, 2013 by puisoh
@ greatgerman .. I have no TV at home. And I discussed this at great length with my Husband, even the blind and deaf will have to pay. Our conclusion : only a dead man is exempted.
23:24 January 1, 2013 by Steve1949
@puisoh.............If you read the article it says you must pay even if you own a computer which obviously you do. I also think it's a dumb law especially if you already subscribe to Cable or Satellite TV package. I also think the dog tax is ridiculous as well. Welcome to Germany. If there's a way to get money out of you the German government will surely find a way.
Today's headlines
Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Photo: DPA

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks loosed a broadside against her cabinet colleagues on Friday in a guest article for Die Welt, saying that they had decided to do too little to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a way that would cost too much. READ  

Women's World Cup
Germany face off with England for third place
Celia Sasic. Photo: DPA

Germany face off with England for third place

England and Germany wipe away the tears as they play for pride and third place at the Women's World Cup in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. READ  

Greece crisis
BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'
Image: BILD/screenshot

BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'

Tabloid Bild continued its campaign against bailouts for Greece on Friday by calling its own "referendum", asking readers to fill out a poll on whether Germany should keep stumping up. German politicians were divided on how the Greek vote would affect Europe. READ  

Police confiscate WW2 tank hidden in cellar
The Panther tank removed from a cellar in Kiel, with a prosecutors' evidence label attached to its barrel. Photo: DPA

Police confiscate WW2 tank hidden in cellar

Police searched a villa in a wealthy suburb of Kiel on Wednesday and found a Second World War tank, a torpedo and other weaponry in the cellar. On Thursday they were still working on removing the tank. READ  

Merkel summons US envoy over spy claims
Photo: DPA

Merkel summons US envoy over spy claims

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel's office Thursday asked the US ambassador to discuss new allegations about NSA spying, a German government source said. READ  

Google game slammed over use of death camps
Dachau concentration camp. Photo: DPA

Google game slammed over use of death camps

News that Google is using the sites of Nazi concentration camps as elements in an "augmented reality" project - an online game linked to the real world - has caused extreme upset to Holocaust survivors' organizations. READ  

Capturing Berlin with an outsider's eye
A Soviet Cosmonaut mosaic in Potsdam. Photo: Digital Cosmonaut

Capturing Berlin with an outsider's eye

It took a German who spent much of his early life abroad to document some of the hidden, abandoned, or forgotten-about corners of Berlin in English. The Local meets "Digital Cosmonaut", one of Berlin's best-loved bloggers. READ  

Greek President cancels Berlin visit
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos(l) with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Photo: DPA

Greek President cancels Berlin visit

Prokopis Pavlopoulos, President of Greece, has cancelled plans to visit Berlin next Tuesday, German media reported on Thursday. READ  

Guardiola: Schweini must decide on future
Photo: DPA

Guardiola: Schweini must decide on future

UPDATE: Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola said Thursday that Bastian Schweinsteiger holds his future in his own hands amidst reports linking the Germany captain to Manchester United. READ  

Drug-driving trucker kills two police officers
The accident happened on the Autobahn near Dortmund. Photo: DPA

Drug-driving trucker kills two police officers

A truck driver crashed his vehicle into a stationary police car on the Autobahn in North Rhine-Westphalia on Thursday, killing the two officers inside. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,858
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd