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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.

Rundfunkbeitrag: Germany's state leaders give green light to raise TV tax
Everyone in Germany must contribute to the Rundfunkbeitrag. Photo: DPA

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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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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