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Tax deadlines, banknotes and pollen: Everything that changes in May 2019 in Germany

From extra time for tax returns to cheaper calls to European countries, there’s lots of changes in store in Germany in May.

Tax deadlines, banknotes and pollen: Everything that changes in May 2019 in Germany
Photo: DPA

More time for your tax declaration

Very few people enjoy doing their taxes. So it might come as good news to discover that this year you have more time to sort out receipts, forms and invoices. Previously, the deadline for submitting your tax declaration (Steuererklärung), if you did it on your own without a tax advisor, was May 31st.

However, from this year the deadline to submit the previous year's earnings has been changed to July 31st. So that's two months additional time.

There’s also extra time for those who hire a tax advisor. Previously, the deadline was December 31st. But it’s been changed to the end of February the following year.

SEE ALSO: The ultimate guide to paying your taxes in Germany

Cash change

New Euro banknotes will come into circulation on May 28th. The four first banknotes in the new Europa series, the €5, €10, €20 and €50, started circulating in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 respectively. And now the €100 and €200 will start circulating at the end of May.

The new notes have improved security features in a bid to stop counterfeiters bringing fakes into circulation. They are also more durable.

The new banknotes are called the Europa series because two of their security features contain a portrait of Europa. This figure from Greek mythology was included in the notes because it has an obvious link to the continent of Europe and also adds a human touch to the banknotes. The image of Europa was taken from a vase in the Louvre in Paris.

SEE ALSO: How diesel bans have ignited a debate about dirty tricks and dodgy money

The European Central Bank has decided to stop producing the €500 banknote, although the first series €500 remains legal tender.

Meanwhile, consumers do not have to worry about their old 100 and 200 bills, because they remain valid. The central banks are gradually replacing them.

Photo: DPA

Environmental protection

The government's amended Federal Emission Control Act will come into force in May. The new regulations generally classify diesel driving bans as disproportionate if the nitrogen oxide in the air only slightly exceeds the limit.

Vehicles with new Euro 6 diesel signs will also not be affected by any bans, the same goes for retrofitted buses, refuse collection and fire brigade vehicles, as well as trade and delivery vehicles.

SEE ALSO: Germany eases diesel vehicle bans, angering enviornmentalists

Calls to be cheaper

Although roaming charges for making calls, sending text messages and surfing the net have been a thing of the past since June 2017, mobile operators are still charging a substantial amount for calls from home networks abroad. The EU now wants to change that and cap costs. The charges for a telephone call within the EU are to fall as early as May 15th, 2019.

That means that calls from Germany to other EU countries should not cost more than 19 cents per minute, and SMS messages will cost no more than six cents. However, the EU Council will have to agree to the new rules beforehand – but this is considered a mere formality.

The maximum applies regardless of whether the calls are made from mobiles or landline phones.

Help for hayfever sufferers

Good news for pollen allergy sufferers and asthmatics in Bavaria: in the future, it will be easier for those affected to find pollen information.

On May 22nd, the world's first electronic pollen information network (ePIN) will be launched, providing up-to-date and accurate real-time data on the pollen count in specific locations, and pollen types. Allergy sufferers can call up the measurement data online via the State Office for Health and Food Safety.

Although the system is initially only available in Bavaria, other federal states could follow in the southern state’s footsteps.

Photo: DPA

SEE ALSO: Pollen at 'unusually high levels amid early spring in Germany

New coins for collectors

Since 2012, Germany has been regularly issuing series of silver coins to mark the 200th anniversary of the Grimms Fairy Tales. The eighth issue of the coins branded with the motif “The brave little tailor” will be launched on May 16th. The €20 silver coins have already whipped up enthusiasm among collectors.

The first volume of the fairy tale collection by the Brothers Grimm, Jackob and Wilhelm, was published on December 20th, 1812. The much-loved stories have been part of the UNESCO World Document Heritage since 2005.

Some workers to get wage increase

The minimum wage will rise again in May 2019 – at least for painters and varnishers. While the minimum wage for unskilled workers is currently €10.60 per hour, they will earn at least €10.85 from May onwards.

In addition, the minimum wage for journeymen (skilled workers who have completed an apprenticeship) will go up in the eastern German regions. From May they will receive €12.95 – that is 35 cents less than in the West.

Make the most of public holidays

In May there are two public holidays: Labour Day (Wednesday May 1st) and Ascension Day (Thursday May 30th). So make the most of your holiday allowance by taking the ‘bridge days' (Brückentage) off – those are the days off in between the public holiday and the weekend. It can help to make your holidays go further.

SEE ALSO: How you can make the most of Germany's 2019 public holidays

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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