One-fifth of households pay domestic help under the table

One-fifth of households pay domestic help under the table
Photo: DPA
Almost one-fifth of the 40 million German households has paid domestic help under the table at least once, according to a study published by opinion research centre TNS Emnid on Monday.

Despite Germany’s reputation for orderly conduct, 18 percent of the 2,091 people surveyed admitted they had paid a babysitter or housekeeper off the books. Some 79 percent said they didn’t feel guilty about doing so.

Even though Schwarzarbeit, or illegal employment, is not a trivial offense, many people still seem to pay their housekeepers in cash to avoid tax issues.

Some 27 percent said they thought they could save money with unregistered household help, but according to Erik Thomsen, head of the job centre of the German pension insurance fund, registering household help for under €400 per month creates very few costs for taxpayers. Since 2009, almost 20 percent of such expenses can even be claimed in tax returns instead of the previous 10 percent, he said.

The bureaucratic hassle is actually quite minimal for registering household help too, he added, explaining that employees also stand to profit from the corresponding accident insurance, leave and sick pay.

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