Court: winning Big Brother is taxable work

Watching the Big Brother television “reality” series may feel like a chore – now a German court has ruled that being in it is work not play, and that the winner must pay tax on his prize money.

Court: winning Big Brother is taxable work
Sirtl, the winner who challenged the tax office. Photo: DPA

Wednesday’s verdict is likely to apply to other shows such as Heidi Klum’s Germany’s Next Topmodel and the various casting competitions.

The Federal Tax Court in Munich told Big Brother 2005 winner Sascha Sirtl that he would have to pay income tax on his €1 million prize money, rejecting his appeal against his regional tax office.

Taking part in the Big Brother show was taxable because, “The complainant owes – like all other candidates – his constant presence in the Big Brother house to the organiser,” the court said.

It added that, “he had to allow himself to be filmed and listened to during his presence there, and after being selected, had to take part in competitions with other candidates.”

This could not be ranked as a game or a bet – making his winnings taxable, unlike the prizes from quiz shows such as “Who wants to be a Millionaire”.

Sirtl’s lawyer Burkhard Binnewies said that the duration of participation seemed to have been key in prompting the question, when does a game become so professional that it becomes work?

“This will change the whole sector,” he said, suggesting that the winners of shows such as “Germany’s Next Topmodel”, “The Supertalent” and “Germany seeks a Superstar” would also have to pay tax in the future.

DPA/The Local

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Germany and France extend Covid tax breaks for cross-border workers

Germany and France have agreed to extend the relaxation of tax rules for cross-border workers until the end of the year.

Cross-border workers commute by car but they can for now continue to work at home
Cross-border workers usually have to commute but can for now continue to work at home.. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The agreements between France and the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy avoids double taxation issues for anyone travelling across the French border to or from those countries in order to work.

During the pandemic, tax rules were eased to allow French cross-border employees, like their counterparts in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, to work from home without having to change their tax status.

The deals, which were established at the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020, were due to end on September 30th – and would have plunged cross-border workers still working from home because of the health crisis into renewed uncertainty over their taxes.

The latest extension of these agreements means there’s no confusion over where a cross-border worker pays their taxes until December 31st – for example cross-border workers who work in Geneva but live in France, who normally pay their taxes and social security contributions in Switzerland. 

Under normal circumstances, anyone living in France who works in Switzerland can spend no more than 25 percent of their time working from home. If they exceed this time limit, they would have to pay these tax charges tin France rather than in Switzerland, which would be much higher.

The agreements between France and Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland “provide that days worked at home because of the recommendations and health instructions related to the Covid-19 pandemic may … be considered as days worked in the state where [workers] usually carry out their activity and therefore remain taxable,” according to the statement from the French Employment Ministry.

In the case of Luxembourg, days worked from home because of the health crisis are not counted in usual the 29 day limit.