Tax Classes (Steuerklassen) in Germany



When it comes to navigating the intricate world of taxes in Germany, understanding the concept of Tax Classes, or “Steuerklassen,” is of paramount importance. These classifications play a pivotal role in determining the amount of income tax deducted from your salary. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricate details of Tax Classes in Germany, shedding light on their significance, how to choose the right one, and the impact they can have on your financial situation.

Introduction to Tax Classes

In Germany, Tax Classes, or “Steuerklassen,” are a system used by the tax authorities to determine the income tax that should be deducted from an individual’s salary. These classes help in categorizing taxpayers based on their personal circumstances and, consequently, influence the amount of tax they pay.


Why Are Tax Classes Important?

Understanding and selecting the right tax class is crucial because it can significantly impact your take-home pay. Different tax classes have varying tax rates and exemptions, and choosing the one that aligns with your situation can save you a substantial amount of money.

Understanding the Different Tax Classes

Here is a table providing information about the German tax classes, which are used to determine income tax with holding for employees in Germany:

Tax Class


Tax Rate (%)


Class I

Single, divorced, or separated

0% – 45%

Default tax class for single taxpayers.

Class II

Single parent

0% – 45%

For single parents raising children alone.

Class III

Married, higher earner

0% – 45%

For the spouse with higher income in a marriage.

Class IV

Married, both spouses working

0% – 45%

For both spouses when their incomes are similar.

Class V

Married, secondary earner

0% – 45%

For the spouse with lower income in a marriage.

Class VI

Additional jobs or multiple employers

0% – 45%

For individuals with multiple sources of income.

German Tax Classes


  1. The tax rate range (0% – 45%) reflects the progressive tax system in Germany, where the tax rate increases as income rises.

  2. The tax class you are assigned to can significantly impact your income tax withholding, so it’s essential to choose the appropriate class based on your marital status and income situation.

  3. To change your tax class in Germany, you need to apply to your local tax office, typically due to changes in your marital status or financial situation.

Please note that the tax rates and classifications may be subject to change over time, so it’s essential to consult with a tax advisor or the German tax authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Class I – Single Individuals

Class I is for single individuals with no children. It is the default tax class for those who do not meet the criteria for other classes.

Class II – Single Parents

Class II is for single parents, offering some tax relief to individuals raising children on their own.

Class III – Married Individuals (Higher Earner)

Class III is designed for married couples where one spouse earns significantly more than the other. The higher-earning spouse is assigned Class III.

Class IV – Married Individuals (Both Spouses Earn)

Class IV is for married couples where both spouses have similar incomes. It often results in a balanced tax burden.

Class V – Secondary Income Earners

Class V is intended for married individuals who earn a secondary income. It is usually chosen by the lower-earning spouse.

Class VI – Additional Jobs

Class VI is relevant if you have multiple jobs simultaneously. This class ensures that your second job is taxed at a higher rate.

How to Choose the Right Tax Class

Selecting the right tax class depends on your personal circumstances, such as your marital status, income levels, and family situation. Consult with a tax advisor to determine which class is most advantageous for you.

Changing Your Tax Class

You can change your tax class during the year under certain conditions, such as marriage or divorce. Be aware that choosing the wrong tax class can lead to underpayment or overpayment of taxes.

Tax Class and Your Paycheck

Your tax class directly affects the amount of income tax deducted from your monthly paycheck. This can impact your cash flow and financial planning.

Tax Class and Marriage

Married couples can choose to file jointly or separately, affecting their tax class and overall tax liability. Deciding the best approach depends on your individual financial situation.

Tax Class and Divorce

In the event of divorce, your tax class will change, and you may need to consider adjustments to your financial planning.

Tax Class and Parenthood

Parents can benefit from choosing the right tax class, as it can lead to tax breaks and financial relief for raising children.

Tax Class and Retirement

As you approach retirement, your tax class may need to be adjusted to align with your new income sources and tax obligations.

Tax Class and Freelancing

Freelancers have unique tax considerations, and choosing the appropriate tax class is crucial to manage their tax liability efficiently.

Tax Class and Expats

Expatriates in Germany need to understand how tax classes apply to them and how they can optimize their tax situation.

Tax Class and Tax Returns

Your tax class also affects the annual tax return process. Ensuring it is correct can prevent unnecessary complications when filing your taxes.

Common Misconceptions About Tax Classes

There are several misconceptions about tax classes in Germany. We’ll debunk some of the most common ones to ensure you have accurate information.


In conclusion, understanding Tax Classes (Steuerklassen) in Germany is essential for anyone living and working in the country. These classifications can significantly impact your financial situation, and choosing the right one requires careful consideration of your personal circumstances. To make informed decisions and optimize your tax situation, consult with a tax advisor who can provide tailored guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the purpose of Tax Classes in Germany?

    • Tax Classes in Germany categorize taxpayers based on their personal circumstances and influence the amount of income tax they pay.

  2. How do I choose the right Tax Class?

    • Choosing the right Tax Class depends on factors such as marital status, income levels, and family situation. Consult with a tax advisor for personalized advice.

  3. Can I change my Tax Class during the year?

    • Yes, you can change your Tax Class under certain conditions, such as marriage or divorce.

  4. How does Tax Class affect my paycheck?

    • Your Tax Class directly affects the amount of income tax deducted from your paycheck, impacting your cash flow.

  5. Are there any tax benefits for parents in specific Tax Classes?

    • Yes, selecting the right Tax Class can lead to tax breaks and financial relief for parents raising children.

With this comprehensive guide, you are now equipped with the knowledge to navigate the German tax system more effectively and make informed decisions about your Tax Class. For further assistance or clarification, consult with a qualified tax professional.