Rundfunkbeitrag: Germany's state leaders give green light to raise TV tax

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Rundfunkbeitrag: Germany's state leaders give green light to raise TV tax

The Rund­funk­beitrag – or television licence fee, which every household living in Germany is required to pay – could rise soon.


On Wednesday, the leaders of Germany's 16 states cleared the way for the amount of money people contribute to the Rundfunkbeitrag to go up by signing the interstate broadcasting agreement.

The increase in the broadcasting fee is now likely to rise by 86 cents to €18.36 per month from January 2021.

However, the change in law must go through all state parliaments before it comes into force. And there may be some resistance from the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt. State Premier Reiner Haseloff signed the agreement on Wednesday but said he could not guarantee a majority in the Magdeburg state parliament.

In the event of approval, the Rundfunkbeitrag would rise for the first time since 2009. The amount can only be changed if all heads of state, and all state parliaments agree.


EXPLAINED: How to pay Germany's TV tax (or legally avoid it)

What is the Rundfunkbeitrag?

Everyone living in Germany is required to contribute to the German TV tax. The responsible authorities get a hold of your data as soon as you complete your registration (Anmeldung), so it's almost impossible to dodge.

After you register in Germany, you receive a letter informing you about your obligations under the German TV and radio tax. 

The tax requires every household to pay €17.50 per month towards the Beitragsservice, which is the public service institution in charge of German public broadcasters on TV and radio. 

The ‘per household' element is important to remember, as you pay per ‘Wohnung' rather than per resident or even per television. So even though the letter is addressed to you, talk to your housemates (if you have them) because it is a team effort.

If you get one of these letters but another resident of the apartment or house already pays the amount, you can write back and let them know.

This is great for people in large shared houses but it can be a hefty fee for people who live alone.


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