From Kindergeld to tax benefits: What changes for families in Germany in 2021

From Kindergeld to tax benefits: What changes for families in Germany in 2021
A woman jogs alongside her daughter in Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, in May. Photo: DPA
Whether for single parents or nuclear families, there are a lot of changes coming for those who have or expect children in 2021.

Higher child benefits

Starting on January 1st, the child supplement (Kinderzuschlag) for families with low incomes will increase to a maximum amount of €205. Parents whose income is just above the Hartz IV welfare level are entitled to this additional supplement to child benefit (Kindergeld). 

Kindergeld itself will also be increased, rising from €204 to €219 per month for the first and second child, to €225 for the third and to €250 for the fourth child. Kindergeld had already been raised by €10 last summer.

READ ALSO: How Germany plans to increase child benefits and provide tax relief

Tip: it’s now possible to apply for Kindergeld online through the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, and also submit the application electronically. 

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Bureaucracy relief

Germany is notorious for bureaucracy, and filling out forms related to family matters is no exception. But a new law is set to make it a little easier to get through all that paperwork. No longer will it be necessary to fill out separate forms for Elterngeld (parental allowance) and Kindergeld: rather the two can be combined in one application called the Kombi-Antrag.

They can be filled out online – although must still be printed out, signed, and sent to the relevant local office. 

It will also be possible to make the Geburtsanzeige (announcement of birth) and Namensfestlegung (or registration of the child’s name) in one form. 

Photo: DPA

German residents could also authorise different authorities to exchange information with each other when needed. That means that Standesämter (registry offices), Krankenkassen (health insurance offices), and Elterngeldstellen (parental allowance offices) could exchange necessary information with each others, sparing families the burden of submitting duplicate paperwork to each one. 

Higher tax benefits for parents

It’s not only Kindergeld which is being raised, but also the Kinderfreibetrag, or the amount for parents which is exempt from taxation. That’s going up €500 on January 1st to a total of €8,388. 

Parents will also benefit from another tax exemption, the Freibetrag für den Betreuungs-, Erziehungs- oder Ausbildungsbedarf, or the allowance for care, education and training needs. That will go up €288 per month to €2,928 which can be deducted from taxes. 

Those who have switched to working from home during the coronavirus crisis (whether they are parents or not) can also look forward to a tax-deductable benefit of €5 per day starting from January. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany plans to give people working from home more rights and benefits

More money for school supplies

Until now, low-income families received financial support of €150 per school child per school year for materials such as books, notebooks and pencils. The amount will increase to €154.50 as of January.

At the beginning of next year, €51.50 will initially be paid for the beginning of the second school semester, followed in the summer by the remaining amount of €103 for the following first school semester.

Advance maintenance payments for single parents

Single mothers who do not receive maintenance payments from the father, or do not receive it regularly, are entitled to an Unterhaltvorschuss or “child support advance maintenance payments.”

In 2021, the advance maintenance payment for children from zero to five years of age is up to €174 per month, for children from six to 11 years of age up to €232 and for children up to 18 years of age up to €309.

Better protection against Ultraschall damage

Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy that are not medically justified and not part of the benefits catalogue (Leistungskatalog) of the statutory health insurance will be banned as of January 1st.

Photo: DPA

A new regulation in the Radiation Protection Act is intended to protect embryos from an unnecessary, excessive dose of radiation.

The high ultrasound intensities required for imaging are said to be associated with a possible risk to the unborn child, especially since much more sound energy is absorbed at the skeletal level as bone formation begins.

The ban includes Doppler, duplex, 3D or 4D procedures, commonly called “Babyfernsehen” (“Baby-TV”) “Babykino” oder “Baby-Viewing”. Many practices offer such examinations as self-pay services (IGeL).

Further changes in 2021

From an increase in the minimum wage to the end of the Solidaritätszuschlag or the 'Soli' (the charge brought in after reunification to help rebuild the east), there are lots of changes for residents in Germany to look out for next year, which the Local is reporting on for you.

There are also changes for drivers which we detail here.

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Germany in 2021

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