There are a lot of things to consider when moving to Germany, some decisions bigger than others, and some you may not have even known about. Church tax is something international residents tend to find out about later on when they are charged 8-9% of their income tax for the church.
Some of you may gladly pay church tax, while you use their services and support the church, others may choose to opt-out of paying church tax. However, of course, there is always a process you will have to follow in order to deregister yourself from church tax in Dusseldorf.
Düsseldorf’s Expat Assistant, Elisa Stella, is back again to help Life in Düsseldorf readers better understand how to deregister themselves from church tax in Dusseldorf.
In Germany, the historical meaning of the church tax is rooted in the very early epoch, where the chief of the tribe was directly responsible for maintaining priests and religious groups.
Nowadays, the money religious communities collect (about €9.2 billion in 2010) covers expenses such as funding institutions and foundations or paying ministers.
In Germany, 8-9% of your income tax goes to the church or another religious community if you declare that you belong to the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church or any other tax-collecting communities at the moment of your residence registration.
Actually, if you are not religious (or you formally would not like to be any longer), you must declare your wish to leave the community to state authorities. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the court is responsible for collecting your formal wish and the procedure is relatively simple.
In order to deregister from church taxes in Dusseldorf, you must do the following:
- Go in person to Amtsgericht Düsseldorf (Werdener Straße 1 – 40227 Düsseldorf)
- Pay 30 Euro cash to the “Zahlstelle” on the first floor, room 1.336, which is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm and also on Thursday afternoon from 13:30 until 14:30
- Then go to room E.300.4 on the ground floor titled “Kirchenaustrittserklärung” and fill in the appropriate form
- Take the declaration issued by the court to the Finance Office (Finanzamt), where you get a further document
- THIS ONE last document is the decisive one: Give this document to your employer or tax advisor, and you will be officially deregistered from paying church taxes in Germany
Do not forget to bring following documents:
- Valid identification (Ausweis)
- Document proving your full name, place, and date of birth, address, and family status (if not in the ID)
- Residence certification no older than 3 months (Meldebestätigung)
- The document which univocally proves to what Church or religious community you’ve been belonging and you want to leave
You can of course still have faith and believe in the church, there is no fee involved. Your civil rights are still untouched, as well as your private sphere and your intimate faith.
However, you might experience some restrictions in Germany: Catholic/Protestant kindergarten (or related) schools may limit the enrollment of your children, you cannot attend rituals and sponsor a child at a baptism, you will not be able to marry in the Church, you will not be able to baptize your children and, in case of death, you will not be buried in consecrated cemetery.
Of course, this is a very personal decision, and you do not need to provide any explanation as to whether you would like to remain or deregister yourself from paying church tax in Dusseldorf.
Have any other questions about church tax or expat services? Ask Elisa! Do you have questions about living #LifeInDüsseldorf? Feel free to send us an email with your question at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have tips you’d like to share with others, we’re also accepting guest posts which include the author’s name, bio, and photo.