How to track a person's residence
Who does the second home tax affect?
According to the Federal Registration Act (BMG), the “predominantly used apartment of the resident” (Section 21 BMG, Paragraph 2) is his main residence. The place where you live also, but not mainly, is accordingly your second home. In complicated cases, the registration authority decides which residence is the main residence and which is the temporary residence.
If you have a second apartment, the so-called second home tax is an additional cost factor in addition to the rent.
This fee is a municipal, i.e. a local expense tax. The municipalities use the income to maintain swimming pools, libraries and sidewalks, for example. The citizen thus contributes to keeping public roads and paths or public facilities in good condition and being able to use them.
With the collection of the second home tax, cities and municipalities are pursuing the idea of getting residents to register their main residence with them instead of a second home. Because for every registered main residence, municipalities receive state subsidies. This cash injection does not exist for second homes. Since municipalities are losing revenue, so to speak, the second home tax is supposed to compensate for these missing costs. At the same time, citizens should be encouraged to think about whether a change of registration as their main residence might not be more lucrative.
How much is the second home tax?
Cities and municipalities can decide for themselves whether and to what extent they levy a second residence tax. If you decide in favor of this, the amount is usually based on the net rent excluding heating. On average, the tax is 5-15 percent of the annual basic rent. In the case of shared accommodation, the tax is usually calculated proportionally to the living space used.
For many years there was no second home tax in Berlin. However, since 2019 all people who have a second home there have to pay this tax.
Tax rates of major German cities currently:
- Berlin: 15%
- Hamburg: 8%
- Munich: 9%
- Stuttgart: 10%
- Frankfurt am Main: 10%
Tax determination examples:
You have a second home in Munich. For this you pay a monthly net rent of 500 euros. This corresponds to an annual net rent of 6,000 euros. Of this amount, you have to pay 9 percent% as secondary residence tax, i.e. 540 euros per year.
Here, Berlin is more expensive than Munich for a change! At a tax rate of 15 percent, one currently pays 900 euros in Berlin under the same conditions.
Who has to pay the tax?
Commuters, holiday home owners and many other groups of people are affected by this tax. It is irrelevant whether the second home is a rental property or a property.
Attention: Students are usually not exempt from paying either! Therefore, it usually pays off to register your main residence at the university's location. If you spend most of your time there, you are obliged to adapt your main residence anyway. Because the center of your life is then in the study city.
In addition to students, it is often commuters who at some point buy a second home in order to shorten the time-consuming trips of everyday life and avoid the daily commute.
In addition to apartments, shared rooms or holiday homes, long-term campsites can also be subject to the secondary residence tax.
Who is exempt from payment?
- Public or non-profit housing that is used for therapeutic or educational purposes.
- People who live in retirement homes, nursing homes or care facilities.
- Offenders sitting in a correctional facility.
- Apartments of apprentices or minors who are in training and who are financially dependent on their parents or one of the parents.
- Soldiers and law enforcement officers stationed at a different location.
- People who live in the place for less than two months and temporarily stay in a hotel or guesthouse.
- Married commuters who have a common main residence with their life partner.
Where is the tax registered?
You must register your second home within two weeks. So there is no difference to registering a main residence. Registration takes place as usual at the responsible residents' registration office.
In some localities, you can even register your second home online via the administration's website. Others offer appointments. Check your options in advance in order to save yourself long waiting times.
What happens if you don't register a second home?
There is an obligation to report! Failure to register is considered tax evasion. This can be punished with a fine of up to 1,000 euros. In severe cases, a prison sentence of up to 5 years is pronounced.
Are you currently evading the tax? Then you should report yourself immediately. If the authorities have not noticed the tax evasion to date, the voluntary disclosure will result in a significantly lower penalty.
Deduct secondary residence tax from tax
If a second home is necessary for professional reasons, you can deduct the tax as income-related expenses in your tax return.
Other reasons do not entitle you to tax deduction.
What happens to other residences?
Any other place of residence must also be registered. The conditions are identical to the second home tax.
Find out whether a second residence tax is due in your new municipality and take care of the registration immediately after you move.
Enjoy yourself, whether at your main or second home.
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