• 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
Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia
File photo: DPA

Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia

Camera traps have spotted a wolf for the second time in a month in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state environment ministry reported on Friday. READ  

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay
Paraguayan police on patrol in an area known to contain EPP rebels. File photo: DPA

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that two Germans living in Paraguay were kidnapped and killed earlier this week. READ  

AfD braces for busy conference weekend
"Vote AfD!" reads the flyover message. Photo: DPA

AfD braces for busy conference weekend

As leaders of the Germany's anti-Euro upstart party Alternative for Germany (AfD) prepare for its party conference this weekend, the potential for chaos is rising. READ  

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos
Snow in Oberharz. Photo: DPA

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday. READ  

BND collects 220 million phone records a day
Photo: DPA

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) collects 220 million pieces of information about foreign phone calls and SMS every day, Zeit Online reported on Friday. READ  

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers
Photo: DPA

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system. READ  

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader

Foreign policy think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) gave Germany top marks in its annual check-up of EU member states released on Thursday. READ  

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years
Photo: DPA

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years

New figures released Friday by federal statistics office Destatis are numbers breweries can drink to, as German beer consumption saw its first year-on-year rise since 2006. READ  

Germany has thousands of uni spots open
Photo: DPA

Germany has thousands of uni spots open

New research published by Spiegel on Friday shows that there are thousands of university placesa unoccupied across the country, while certain hot spots cope with too much demand. READ  

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'
Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference. Photo: DPA

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'

Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp admits feeling the pressure as his side resume their fight to stay in Germany's top flight on Saturday at fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,462
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd