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LIVING IN

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2019

From taxes to 'Kindergeld', there are a lot of important changes coming to Germany as June becomes July on Monday.

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2019
Photo: DPA

Kindergeld increasing

We have some good news for all parents in Germany: the amount of ‘Kindergeld’- or child support payments – is going up by 10 per month, and applies to all underage children living at home.

For the first and second child, parents will receive 204 a month, up from the previous 194.

For the third child, parents will receive 210, up from 200. And for the fourth and each additional child, parents will get 235, up from 225.

Starting in January 2021, this amount will go up by a further 15 euros.

Midijobbers rejoice

Starting July 1st, all so-called midijobbers (or employees who regularly earn more than 450) can look forward to less social security contributions. 

So far, a midijobber has been considered to be an employee who earns between 450 and 850 per month. Now this limit is rising from 850 to 1300 euros gross per month. This is particularly important because now only the reduced social security contributions have to be paid up to the higher amount.

And yet more good news for midijobbers: as of July, they will no longer receive reduced pension benefits despite the reduced pension contributions. As a result, employees no longer have to top up from their own resources.

Through the scheme, the government aims to make midi-jobs more attractive and increase the number of such jobs.

Photo: DPA

More tax filing time

If you’re worried that you missed the tax filing deadline in Germany – which was May 31st until this year, you can take a deep breath (at least for another month). Now the deadline for filing German taxes has been pushed to July 30th for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Those who use the help of a Steuerberater, or tax advisor, have until February 28th the following year to file. 

SEE ALSO: The ultimate guide to filing taxes in Germany

Pensions going up

According to the Federal Statistical Office's data on wage developments, pensions will rise significantly starting on July 1st. In east Germany, the pension increase will be 3.91 percent, and in west Germany by 3.18 percent. Thus the pension value of the east will be reaching a full 96.5 percent of the value in west Germany.

SEE ALSO: How to maximize your German pension – even if you plan to retire elsewhere

Postage increases

Starting July 1st, postage prices for letters and postcards will go up in Germany: a standard letter sent by the Deutsche Post will cost 80 cents, whilst the price of a domestic postcard will rise to 60 cents. 

Likewise the compact letter (Kompaktbrief), the large letter (Großbrief) and the so-called Maxibrief (or the largest size) will be ten cents more expensive. Postage for a postcard will even increase by 15 cents – the price was 45 cents for more than 15 years. 

There will be supplementary stamps worth five, ten, 15 and 20 cents for stamps below the new value that have not been used. It will therefore not be necessary to exchange old stamps.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about sending mail in Germany

Photo: DPA

Changes in the books

Sending books and goods will be easier and more expensive from July 2019 onwards

Starting July 1st, the number of book shipping categories will be reduced: one up to 500 grams and up to one kilogram. Only five centimetres in height are allowed (35 x 25 x 5 centimetres).

Consignments of books and goods up to 500 grams will cost 1.90. Shipments of books and goods up to one kilogram will cost 2.20.

While the prices themselves have not been increased, customers will have to buy the more expensive DHL parcels for thicker shipments, as the maximum permitted height has been reduced from 15 to five centimetres.

New job opportunities in Berlin

Starting in July, the city of Berlin is testing a new employment programme. Dubbed “das solidarische Grundeinkommen” (solidarity basic income), the programme aims to find employment for the unemployed in understaffed public sectors such as mobility assistants or caretakers.

Anyone who has been unemployed for a year but has no chance of finding a job in labour market in the foreseeable future will be able to participate.

Cash back in Bavaria

For a Bavaria-specific change, landowners in the southern state can apply for partial reimbursement for road construction contributions paid between 2014 and 2017.

In order to receive the repayment, however, the applicants must prove that they have suffered an unreasonable financial disadvantage as a result of the payment of the contributions. A deductible of 2000 and an upper income limit of 100,000 apply to the applications – or double the amount for life partners or married couples.

Property owners must submit the application by the end of the year either online or in writing to the office of the Hardship Commission (Härtefallkommission).

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

From the €9 ticket and fuel tax cut, to travel chaos, tax deadlines and digital steps forward, here's what's changing in Germany this August.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

€9 ticket and fuel tax cut runs out

Germany’s €9 monthly public transport ticket offer continues until the end of August so people will be able to buy and use it for the month before it it’s gone when September starts (sadly).

The fuel tax cut is also in force until the end of August. For petrol, the government-subsidised “tank rebate” is about 30 cents per litre, for diesel about 14 cents per litre. The reduction is limited until August 31st.

No plans have been announced yet to extend these measures. 

Travel chaos continues in Europe

The summer months have been chaotic for travellers, and we have seen examples of airports congested throughout Europe. This will continue during August, as airlines have cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule. 

In Germany, around 6,000 flights operated by Lufthansa alone have been scrapped from the summer schedule.

More strikes?

German airline giant Lufthansa ground staff staged a one-day strike on Wednesday July 27th. Negotiations between Verdi union and Lufthansa will happen on August 3rd and 4th.

It may be that more strikes are announced if an agreement on pay for the 20,000 ground staff isn’t reached. Keep an eye on The Local’s homepage. 

READ ALSO: Flights disrupted across Germany as Lufthansa strike begins

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd.

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

August regional holiday

There is only one official holiday in Germany in August – Assumption Day – or Mariä Himmelfahrt – on August 15th. It is a regional holiday for the states of Bavaria and Saarland.

It falls on a Monday, so don’t forget to prepare yourself for it, as most shops and supermarkets will be closed on the holiday and Sunday as well (as they always are in Germany).

Tax deadline

Those who have their tax return for 2020 prepared by a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association still have until August 31st to hand it in.

The deadline was extended again in May to relieve tax advisors who have extra work in their plate with auditing Covid financial assistance during the pandemic period.

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany have longer for their tax returns this year

More transparency in employment contracts

Whether it’s the scope of work, length of probationary period, possible overtime or notice period, employment contracts issued from August 1st onwards must clearly state in writing the working conditions for new jobs.

It must also be documented what wages will be paid, how they will be made up, what further training has been promised, what the shift system and rest breaks will be like, and what applies to the remuneration of overtime, allowances and bonuses.

Information on contracting parties, remuneration and working hours must be provided in writing to new employees no later than the start of employment – all other supporting documents can be given within seven calendar days.

More assistance for students

From August 1st, there will be more BAföG financial assistance for students. The maximum support rate for students will be raised from €861 to €934 per month. The tax-free amount on the parents’ income, which is the basis for calculating the education grant, will also go up. This also increases the group of those eligible for support.

The previous tax-free allowance of €8,200 for the assets of trainees will also be increased – to €15,000 for people up to the age of 29, and to €45,000 from the age of 30. Furthermore, the age limit for BAföG funding will be extended from 30 to 45.

READ ALSO: German students to get higher grants from winter 2022

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle.

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Minimum wage goes up

For stonemasons and people in the stone-sculpting trade, new industry minimum wages will apply from August 1st 2022; instead of €12.85 per hour, employees will get 50 cents more, raising it to €13.35. Independently of this, there is also the German statutory minimum wage, which will increase to €12 in October.

Digital step for founding companies

From August 1st, anyone who wants to establish a GmbH (a company with limited liability) or KG (limited partnership) can do so without having to attend the notarial certification in person – they can also do it via online video communication.

This is regulated by the Act on the Implementation of the Digitalisation Directive (DiRUG). “The parties involved are identified by means of an electronically transmitted photograph in conjunction with an electronic proof of identity, e.g. the German identity card with eID function,” explains the Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Pupils return to the classroom – or go on holiday

Schools in several states will return after the summer break in August. But the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are the last to go off on their school holidays – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

Cheaper medicines in the pharmacy

Patients who are prescribed biopharmaceuticals (or biologics) by their doctor, which are often used for Crohn’s disease, arthritis or cancer, can be given cheaper medicines of the same type at the pharmacy from August 16th. This is regulated by the “Law for More Safety in the Supply of Medicines”.

The biosimilars, i.e. similar biological medicines, are to come into circulation more quickly, and drug costs are to be reduced. The law is intended to relieve the burden on health insurance companies. The imitation products are produced and tested by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under strict criteria as soon as the patent for a drug expires, and are considered to be just as effective as the respective original.

General measles vaccination mandate in care facilities applies

Since March 2020, measles vaccinations have been compulsory in communal facilities such as Kindergartens, asylum seekers’ and refugees’ accommodation and in medical facilities – for caregivers and other employees in the facilities.

Those who already worked in one of the above-mentioned facilities before March 2020 were granted a transitional period until July 31st 2022 to present proof of vaccination.

People who do not comply with the vaccination obligation will be banned from care or work from August 1st, and could also face fines of up to €2,500 if they flout the rules. People who cannot get the vaccination for medical reasons and those born before 1971 are exempt from the measles jab mandate.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

Titanium dioxide banned in food

Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent in wall paints, varnishes, cosmetics and medicines. But foodstuffs such as chewing gum, sweets, baked goods, soups and salad dressings also often rely on it, especially in the USA. It’s found on the packaging as the additive E171.

As of August, however, titanium dioxide can no longer be used in food production in Europe. The European Commission imposed the ban because it could not be ruled out that the chemical substances could alter “genetic cell material” and that the food additive could therefore no longer be considered safe. In France, titanium dioxide hasn’t been used in food since 2020.

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