New flat rate tax also affects church tax

Therefore, many customers received mail from their financial institutions in recent weeks. In these letters, the banks also informed about the church tax to be levied on the capital gains tax. Because from 1. January 2009 the reorganization of the taxation of capital gains comes into effect.

On interest, dividends and capital gains, banks and savings banks will pay the final withholding tax of 25 percent plus solidarity surcharge and, if applicable, church tax. This applies to income above the saver's lump sum of 801 euros per person.At the same time, the banks asked their customers to state their religion and denomination. Corresponding forms instructing the banks to withhold church tax were enclosed.

Taxation of capital income directly at the quel

The core of the new regulation is the procedure for taxing capital income directly at source – instead of as part of the assessment process, as was previously the case. The church member can – under notification of his religious affiliation – instruct his bank to withhold the church tax as a surcharge on the final withholding tax. This forwards the church tax to the responsible church. This means that capital gains are finally taxed as a whole and no longer need to be reported on tax returns. This procedure also takes into account the effect of the special expense deduction of church tax.In addition to the collection procedure, another new feature is that the tax rate on investment income will be a maximum of 25 percent in the future, compared to the previous rate of up to45 percent at the top tax rate. The solidarity surcharge and church tax are also levied on capital income if the taxpayer belongs to a religious community. Church tax rate is nine percent, in Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg eight percent.

"The churches do not get more money through this"

The churches used various channels to provide information about the new capital gains tax regulations and their impact on church taxes – in circulars to church congregations or on their own websites. They recommended to fill out the application for collection of church tax through the banks. This is a relief, because the time-consuming listing of investment income in the tax return is omitted, it was argued.The payroll tax assistance associations also advised taxpayers to fill out the bank forms. If the bank is not entrusted with the church tax deduction, he said, it will lead to unnecessary extra work, because then the correct treatment of the church tax will have to be determined and explained again. The Federal Association of Wage Tax Assistance Associations warned that this would not achieve the desired simplification.On the impact of the flat tax on church tax revenues, churches are reluctant to make predictions. "The churches will not get more money as a result," said Vice President Rolf Kramer of the Hanover Regional Church Office. The lower tax rate of 25 percent results in a lower burden in some cases, church financial officers have been told.The head of the tax department of the Protestant Church in Germany, Jens Petersen, pointed out in summary that with the new regulation, simplification purposes and tax rate reductions for church tax also become relevant. However, he did not want to quantify in what order of magnitude the flat tax affects the church tax: "I do not get carried away with any figure."Without this, a change is pending again after 2010. Afterwards the banks can inquire the religion affiliation of their customers with a central place – under keeping of the data security. This procedure is then comparable to the practice of payroll tax deduction, in which employers are informed of the employee's religious affiliation.

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