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How to change tax classes in Germany?

Updated: Jan 17

Taxes are one of the major deductions from your salary; especially if you are in the higher tax paying category. However, you can still make an impact in your monthly drawn salary by moving to a lesser tax paying class.  

How do I change tax classes in Germany?

Most things about taxes in Germany are a hot topic and not very easy when it comes to managing taxes on your own. However, not every topic needs to be very hard. It is rather easy to change your tax classes in Germany and we’ll walk you through the process. 

Tax classes in Germany

In Germany, your tax class will not affect your tax amount, but rather, depending on your income, the amount you pay will vary. Taxes are, however, calculated based on the amount of income you earn each month. Remember that, your overall tax bill remains the same over the course of the year.

Singles are taxed in tax class I. This includes widows, divorcees, and civil partners. A married person who is not in class II, III, or IV can also be in class I. Unmarried expats in Germany or those whose spouse lives in a different country will automatically be assigned to tax class 1 upon arrival.

Single parents living separately are taxed under tax class II.

Those who are married and whose spouses are classified under tax class V or who have recently died are in tax class III.

Tax class IV will be assigned to both spouses. A couple earning nearly the same amount should fit into tax class IV. You will automatically be assigned class IV if you arrive in Germany with your spouse or if you marry in Germany.

If you are married to someone who has tax class III, you fall under tax class V. Those earning multiple wages from multiple employers are considered to be in tax class VI..

How do I know my tax class?

On your payslip, you can find your tax class in the left upper corner, marked SKI. The tax class numbers range from 1 to 6, or from I to VI in Roman numerals. 

What is the process for obtaining a tax class? 

Your tax ID and tax class will be assigned to you by the Finanzamt (tax office) after you are registered in Germany. While the tax ID will be valid during your stay in Germany, the tax class depends on your marital status.

What are the steps to change your tax class in Germany?

German tax classes can be changed quickly and easily.

  1. If you and your spouse want to change your tax classes (you to class III and your spouse to class V), you'll have to complete a form called "Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten." You can either do this online or print a PDF form and fill it out manually. In simple terms, the below instructions are for switching your tax categories to III for you and V for your spouse.

  • Line 1 Steuernummer. This is your individual tax number that you can find on your tax declaration. Not to be confused with the tax ID. If you haven’t filed a tax declaration yet, leave the field empty.

  • Line 2 An das Finanzamt. Name of your city or the relevant tax office.

  • Line 3 Bei Wohnsitzwechsel: Bisheriges Finanzamt. If you have moved, fill in the name of the previous relevant tax office.

  • Lines 4 to 10 Antragstellende Person. These lines deal with the person filing the change: line 5 Identifikationsnummer (tax ID; see payslip), lines 6-9 personal details and address, line 10 verheiratet seit (married since), verwitwet seit (widowed since), geschieden seit (divorced since), dauernd getrennt lebend seit (permanently separated since)

  • Line 11-15 other spouse: line 11 Identifikationsnummer (tax ID of the other spouse), lines 12-15 personal details and address of the other spouse

  • Line 17 Bisherige Steuerklassenkombination (previous tax classes of the spouses)

  • Line 18 Wir beantragen die Steuerklassenkombination (we request the tax class combination (partner filing the request/other spouse)

  • Line 19. If you tick this box, the change will be effective retroactively since the day of the wedding.

  • Line 43. Signature of both spouses, the one filing the request first.

  1. Send the form to the tax office or submit it in person

  • If you submit the form by the end of the month, the tax office will let your employer know about the changes in the first five days of the following month.

  1. Wait for your next payslip

  • Once your tax class is changed, you should see the difference in your next payslip. You'll see that your monthly drawn salary is different to the previous month as well as the the value in the tax class field is changed to the new tax class.

Even though the form is available to download in English, you need to submit the German version of the form. You can use Google translate’s document translate option to translate the form to English or to a language you understand. However, make sure you submit only the German form to Finanzamt. 

When to change my tax class in Germany?

It is easy to change your tax class in Germany. Most expats become concerned about tax class when they marry or move to Germany alone if they are married. Separation, divorce, the birth of a child with full custody or a change in employment or income can also result in a change in tax class. It will usually be the spouse who files the request alone who signs the form in these cases. In the event that one spouse passes away, the tax class of the other spouse will be changed automatically. Even during a single year, tax classes can be changed a number of times depending on the circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions - How to Change Tax Classes in Germany

Is there a specific form for changing tax classes in Germany?

Yes, there is a specific form known as the Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten for married couples and the Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten/Lebenspartnern for registered same-sex partners. You can obtain these forms from your local tax office or download them online.

Can I change my tax class multiple times in a year?

When does the new tax class take effect?

How can I check my new tax class after the change?

Will changing my tax class affect my overall tax liability for the year?

Can I change my tax class without any reason?

Are there any fees for changing tax classes in Germany?

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