German Corporate Taxation

Germany charges its corporate taxes from the companies and local residents on their worldwide incomes. German business profits are subject to two taxes, corporation tax and trade tax. In this article, we are going to take an overlook at the German corporate tax system and treatment, the groups levied to pay and get to know more about Germany-India tax treaty on double taxation.

  • Introduction
  • Corporate Structures and Tax treatment
  • Payers of the tax
  • Segments distribution
  • Germany-India Tax Treaty


The German corporate taxes align with the companies paying the corporate taxes based on their net income over the course of one business year. It taxes its corporate residents on their worldwide income. However, most double tax treaties (DTTs) exempt income due to a far-off permanent establishment (PE). German-source income taxes levied on non-residents with PE or property income and those earning royalties and dividends are taxed by withholding at source. German business profits are subject to taxation systems: Corporate and Trade tax.


Business in Germany runs under two different entities named, limited liability company (GmbH) or a joint-stock company (AG). The key differences between the two relate to the treatment each receives under commercial law and are hence taxed as separate legal entities. Germany’s combined corporate income tax rate is the third-highest among European OECD countries, at 30%.[1] At a national level, the company rate is about at 15%, with additional local trade taxes set by local municipalities. The business tax is levied on a taxpayer’s business income; the municipal business tax is charged as a lump-sum which may be credited against income tax. The tax owed is determined by applying the federal rate (Steuermesszahl) to the taxable business income that results in a basic tax amount. The municipal coefficient (Hebesatz) is then applied to the essential tax amount to work out the particular amount of tax that is owed. The municipalities fix the coefficient which varies according to their financial needs.

Combined Corporate Income Tax Rate

National Level Company rates

  • The following sectors are liable to pay the taxes in the country:
  • Corporations;
  • Cooperatives;
  • Mutual insurance companies;
  • Legal entities such as societies and trusts;
  • Commercial enterprises run by public legal entities. The main segments of tax distribution in the country can be reviewed through the following:
Corporate tax for artists and journalists

Artists and journalists need to contribute towards the government backed social security system and in violation of it, they are framed under the Social Law of artists. The contributions depend on income. There is also a ceiling on the total annual income that contributors are able to make, which changes each year. Like employees, freelancers got to pay 50% of the entire contribution. In 2020, the total contribution rates are:

  • Pension insurance: 18.6%. The 2020 annual income ceiling is €82,800.
  • Health insurance: 14.6%. The 2020 annual income ceiling is €56,250.
  • Care insurance: 3.05% for folks, or 3.30% for those without children.The 2020 annual income ceiling is €56,250.
Corporate tax for freelancers

German policies are a bit different for the freelancers. They are not succumbed to register at the Commercial Registry, and also don’t have to become a member of or contribute to the Chamber of Commerce as well freelancers don’t got to prepare annual financial statements for taxation purposes or pay a trade tax. Instead, a simple profit-and-loss assessment is sufficient. But are needed to register with the local tax authorities, their professional association, and an accident insurance company The tax authorities are required to assess income tax quarterly payments, which is based on the leftover income after expenses have been deducted.

Corporate tax for sole traders and limited companies

Business owners and self-employed workers in Germany must register with their local tax office but are refrained from following the social-security policy. Self-employed workers can claim some services and items necessary for their work as tax-deductible expenses. Tradesmen need to register with the trade office.

Tax Rate for foreign companies– There is no distinction between German companies and foreign companies. Non-resident companies are only taxed on their Germany-sourced income.

Both corporation tax and trade tax are imposed on the taxable income of a foreign company’s German branch

Capital Gains Taxation: Capital gains are typically taxed at the same rate as ordinary income at 15%. A 95% tax exemption (a 100% exemption with a 5% add-back as a non-deductible business expense) applies to the sale of shares by a company, regardless of participation in the subsidiary. Such an exemption does not apply to banks, financial institutions and finance companies, life or health insurance companies, and pension funds. However, from time to time it is discussed that the tax exemption for capital gains will only apply for sharehold­ings of at least 10% in the future.

Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits– Unilateral tax reliefs are offered to the companies in Germany, allowing companies to credit foreign taxes paid up to the amount that is subject to domestic tax or to deduct foreign tax as a business expense.Net operating losses up to EUR 1 million can be carried back one year. Losses up to EUR 1 million may be carried forward indefinitely. For net operating losses exceeding EUR 1 million, at least 40% of the taxable income is subject to taxation. Deduction of net interest expense is generally limited to 30% tax EBITDA. Donations to charity organizations, whether in cash or in-kind, are deductible up to the higher of 20% of otherwise net taxable income or 0.4% of the total of sales revenue and wages and salaries paid during the year.

  • Other Corporate Taxes
  • Municipal taxes (averaging at 14-17%)
  • Real property tax (0.35% multiplied by a municipal coefficient)
  • Real estate transfer tax (3.5-6.5%) and various environmental taxes are levied.[3]


The annexed Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and capital has been concluded in the following sections:

  •  The agreement applies to taxes on income and on capital imposed on behalf of a Contracting State.

The existing taxes to which this Agreement shall apply are in particular :

(a) in the Federal Republic of Germany :

  • the Einkommensteuer (income-tax),
  • the Korperschaftsteuer (corporation-tax),
  • the Vermogensteuer (capital tax), and
  • the Gewerbesteuer (trade tax) (hereinafter referred to as “German tax”);

(b)in the Republic of India,

  • the income-tax including any surcharge tax
  • the wealth-tax


1. The tax shall be determined in the case of a resident of the Federal Republic of Germany as follows: the companies shall be exempted from German tax any item of income arising in the Republic of India and any item of capital situated within the Republic of India, which, according to this Agreement, may be taxed in the Republic of India. The Federal Republic of Germany, however, retains the right to take into account in the determination of its rate of tax the items of income and capital so exempted.

2. The tax shall be determined in the case of a resident of the Republic of India as follows:

Where a resident of the Republic of India derives income or owns capital which, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, may be taxed in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India shall allow as a deduction from the tax on such income of that resident an amount equal to the income-tax paid in the Federal Republic of Germany, whether directly or by deduction, and as a deduction from the tax on such capital of that resident an amount equal to the capital tax paid in the Federal Republic of Germany. Such deduction, in either case, shall not, however, exceed that part of the income-tax or capital tax (as computed before the deduction is given) which is attributable, as the case may be, to the income or the capital which may be taxed in the Federal Republic of Germany. The laws in force in either of the Contracting States shall continue to govern the taxation of income and capital in the respective Contracting States except where express provision to the contrary is made in this Agreement.


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