TV/Radio Tax In Germany – Everything you need to know

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Have you moved to Germany recently and are looking for a way to pass the time?  

Yes, televisions are a feasible option, but keep in mind that residents of Germany are obligated to pay a radio/TV fee. 

Yes, you must pay a TV tax for German television and a broadcasting charge for German radio stations. You only have to pay it if your home already pays a broadcasting contribution. If all of this seems complex and you’re not sure what to do about paying the radio/TV tax, keep reading!  

Contents

In Germany, the Rundfunkbeitrag(Global broadcasting contribution) is known as the broadcasting fee or TV/radio tax. This fee, which will be set at 18.36€ per month, must be paid by every home in Germany.  

While it’s commonly referred to as a “TV tax,” it’s really a “television tax.” In Germany, the Rundfunkbeitrag is not regarded as a tax. This definition is based on a Federal Constitutional Court judgement from 2018. In response to petitions filed by opponents of the license fee, the court concluded that the Rundfunkbeitrag was not a tax, despite its appearance. It’s still referred to as the a “broadcast contribution”. 

Why to pay? 

The payment will be used to fund a contributing public broadcasting service. Contributory means that, regardless of their actual media usage, all adult citizens, corporations, organizations, and public interest organizations in Germany should make a contribution. 

Everyone, including those who pay a low or no license fee, can benefit from the diversity and quality of the publicly available public broadcasting programs in this way. The goal is to achieve the maximum level of financial justice available.  

Who needs to pay? 

In general, residents who are at least 18 years old must comply with the following: There is only one charge for each house. Even if more than one person lives at home, just one person is responsible for paying the charge, regardless of how many people reside there or how many devices they use. 

How to register?

  1. Online registration for your household: Fill out this form with your information. It requires basic information such as your name and address.
  2. If you choose to manually send it on the same form, you can specify your payment options, such as whether you want them to remove the money from your account or if you want them to remove it from your account. You can also choose to make monthly, quarterly, or annual payments. You can only use accounts with IBANs.
  3. Stay on top of your Beitragsnummer and obtain confirmation of your situation. You’ll need it when you move or change addresses, because it’s your reference number. 
  4. Rundfunkbeitrag must be paid within four weeks of the due date. 
  5. Upon the due date, you will automatically receive a payment request if you pay by bank transfer. 
  6. Your account details must be provided only once if you use a SEPA Direct Debit.

👉Important Info

What happens when you don’t pay TV Tax? 

If you do not pay the TV/radio tax, you will face harsh legal consequences. You will continue to receive payment requests, which will escalate into formal collection actions. 

The Beitragsservice will tell the SCHUFA, which manages your credit score in Germany, about your poor payment history, which will have an impact on your SCHUFA score and any future transactions you make. Even a  even a custodial sentence is possible, if you go too long without paying. 

How does Rundfunkbeitrag work for international students? 

Yes, even if Germany is not your home country, you have to pay the tax on television and radio. 

Since you have a Meldepflicht (registration obligation) in Germany, you will receive letters from the contribution service to collect broadcasting contributions, even if you and your new address in Germany have not yet registered. 

If you receive a payment request from ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice, you must respond to the request. Don’t wait for reminders to be sent! 

What happens if you’re in a shared flat (Wohngemeinschaft)? 

Only one member from the family is needed to pay the charge if you share an apartment or live in a Wohngemeinschaft with two or three other flatmates. Of course, the same is true for a family that lives together. 

Usually the rent is already being paid by someone else in the case of a move-in. If that’s the case, you can let them know by completing this form (Pick option: Wenn ich zu einem anderen Beitragszahler ziehe) and you will not be charged anything more. Please provide the person’s name, first name, and Beitragsnummer. 

I hope this blog was helpful in answering your questions; If you would like more resources on the topic, you can visit the Rundfunkbeitrag website.  

👉Additional Info

  • Notifying the Bürgeramt that you are leaving the country won’t suffice. It will be necessary to notify the Beitragsservice that you would like to be removed from their database. Using this form on their website is recommended a bit in advance. You will be made to pay if you don’t do that and come back to Germany. 
  • If you have a vision or hearing impairment, you can inform the Beitraggservice to lower or cancel the charge. 
  • Ask your landlord whether the rent you’re paying includes the German ‘TV tax’ if you’re renting a short-term apartment in Germany. 

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