Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

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Withholding Taxes

Tax withholding procedure according to Section 50a EStG

The following categories of income derived by foreign payees with limited tax liability (Section 49 Income Tax Act [EStG]) are subject to the tax withholding procedure set out in Section 50a EStG:

Income from artistic, athletic, entertainment or similar performances given in the territory of Germany (e.g. appearance fees for talk shows or performances, professional fees, prize money) and from the domestic exploitation of these performances.

Income from grants of rights such as licenses and copyrights (film rights, music rights, patent rights, etc.) exploited within the territory of Germany as well as commercial, technical, scientific and similar experience, knowledge and skills (“know-how”).

Income from serving as a director at a domestic company.

Payers of remuneration are required to withhold, pay and report taxes. The Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) is responsible for conducting the tax withholding procedure.

General

Income for which tax is deducted in accordance with Section 50a EStG

Section 50a (1) sentence 1 no. 1 EStG

Income generated through artistic, sporting, artistic, entertainment or similar performances carried out in Germany, including income from other services related to these services, regardless of who the income accrues to (Section 49 (1) no. 2 to 4 and 9 EStG), unless it is income from employment that is already subject to tax deduction from wages in accordance with Section 38 (1) sentence 1 no. 1 EStG.

Section 50a (1) sentence 1 no. 2 EStG

Income from the utilization in Germany of performances within the meaning of no. 1 (Section 49 (1) no. 2 to 4 and 6 EStG)

Section 50a (1) sentence 1 no. 3 EStG

Income that arises from remuneration for the transfer of the use or the right to use rights, in particular copyrights and industrial property rights, from industrial, technical, scientific and similar experience, knowledge and skills, for example plans, models and procedures, as well as income generated from providing the opportunity to contractually engage a professional athlete for a limited period of time (Section 49 (1) no. 2, 3, 6 and 9 EStG).

Section 50a (1) sentence 1 no. 4 EStG

Income of members of the supervisory board, administrative board or other persons entrusted with monitoring the management of corporations, associations of persons and assets within the meaning of Section 1 of the Corporation Tax Act as well as other domestic associations of persons under private and public law in which the shareholders are not entrepreneurs (Co-entrepreneurs) are granted for monitoring the management (Section 49 (1) no. 3 EStG).

Incurring, withholding, paying and reporting withholding tax

The tax is incurred as soon as the supplier (i.e. payee) derives the remuneration.

The purchaser or customer (i.e. payer) has to withhold tax as soon as the tax is incurred, i.e. at the time of payment. Tax is withheld for the account of the payee, who is the person liable for payment of the tax.

The tax withholding rate is generally 15% of the agreed-upon gross remuneration (before the solidarity surcharge). For directors’ fees, the tax rate is 30% (before the solidarity surcharge).

See the “Tax withholding amount” page for details and special considerations regarding the tax rate and withholding tax amount, particularly when net agreements are involved.

The payer has to electronically report and pay all the tax withheld in a given calendar quarter to the BZSt by the tenth day of the following month.

Example: An artist gives a performance in Germany on 28 December 2023. She receives a fee from the organizer for her show on 4 January 2024. The tax is incurred on 4 January 2024, according to Section 50a (5) Sentence 1 EStG. The organizer, who is the payer, has to report and pay the tax withheld from the fee (which is income under Section 50a (1) (1) EStG) to the BZSt by 10 April 2024.

Electronic data submission

Tax returns must generally be submitted electronically via the BZStOnline portal. Please find further information on the page relating to Electronic Data Submission.

BZSt tax number for self-assessed tax returns

You generally need a tax number issued by the BZSt in order to file self-assessed tax returns. If you want to file self-assessed tax returns but do not have a BZSt tax number, you can request one from the BZSt.

Note:

The BZSt tax number is not intended to be used to report your own income. If you live in Germany and wish to file an income tax return, for example, you will need to file with your local tax office, not the BZSt. In these cases, please ask your local tax office to issue you a tax number.

Please send the completed application by post, fax (0228/406-3399) or email (abzugsteuer@bzst.bund.de) to the Federal Central Tax Office. In case of electronic transmission, a qualified electronic signature is also possible.

Bank account for tax withholding procedure

Please use the following bank account when making transfers as part of the tax withholding procedure:

Beneficiary: Bundeskasse Trier
Bank: Bundesbank Filiale Saarbrücken
IBAN: DE89 5900 0000 0059 0010 70
BIC: MARKDEF1590
Creditor identification number: DE09 ZZZ0 0000 0000 01

When making the payment, please state the cash reference number (Kassenzeichen) assigned to you, the tax type and the period.

Direct debit procedure

You can have the BZSt debit withholding tax (including additions to tax) straight from your account using SEPA direct debit.

First, however, you will have to grant the BZSt a SEPA direct debit mandate. Any direct debit authorization that you may have issued to your local tax office will not apply to the BZSt.
Enrolling in the SEPA direct debit procedure ensures that the BZSt will receive your payments on time as long as you report the withholding tax in a timely fashion. You will not have to monitor payment deadlines or expend any effort on initiating the transfer. Enrollment is free and can be revoked at any time.

Please send your SEPA direct debit enrollment declaration by mail to:

Bundeszentralamt für Steuern
Department St II 9 – Withholding Tax
53221 Bonn

Alternatively, you can send the completed declaration to the Federal Central Tax Office by fax (0228/406-3399) or email (abzugsteuer@bzst.bund.de). In case of electronic transmission, a qualified electronic signature is also possible.

Visit www.sepadeutschland.de (maintained by the Bundesbank) to learn everything consumers and businesses need to know about SEPA payments.

Tax certificate

- old legal framework – repealed by AbzStEntModG on June 9,2021

The payer is required to provide the non-resident payee with a certificate on an official form documenting the amount of tax withheld and paid if the payee requests such a certificate (Section 50a (5) Sentence 7 EStG).

The law does not require the BZSt or any other tax authorities to verify the information in the tax certificate, so the BZSt does not verify it.

The tax certificate can be signed using a qualified electronic signature. It can be sent to the Federal Central Tax Office by post, fax or email.

Exemption option according to Section 50 c (2) sentence 1 no. 2 EStG

In cases of minor tax significance, the exemption pursuant to Section 50c (2) sentence 1 no. 2 EStG offers the option of reducing the withholding tax pursuant to Section 50a EStG or exempting the remuneration completely. Information on this procedure (exemption option in accordance with Section 50c (2) sentence 1 no. 2 EStG) can be found on the corresponding page.

Forms, leaflets, laws and regulations

The following section contains forms, leaflets, laws and regulations relating to withholding tax pursuant to Section 50a EStG.

Laws and regulations

Powers of attorney

Tax number

SEPA direct debit procedure

E-filing self-assessed tax returns

Forms for the assessment according to Section 50 (2) sentence 2 no. 5 EStG

Starting with the 2017 tax period, corporations with limited tax liability have to use the KSt 1 form with its various schedules. The old KSt 1 C form for taxpayers with limited tax liability has been withdrawn.

Please note that the KSt 1 form and its schedules are now only available in hard copy. The forms can be ordered using the contact form.

Forms for the subsequent income tax assessment procedure for taxpayers with limited tax liability is available here.

A more extensive selection of forms for the subsequent corporation tax assessment procedure for taxpayers with limited tax liability is available here.

Tax certificates

Forms for tax offices

Contact

Federal Central Tax Office

Department St II 9 Withholding Taxes
An der Küppe 1
53225 Bonn

Phone: +49 228 406-1200
Fax: +49 228 406-3200

Jurisdiction:

Withholding tax