Loading
ENEnglish
Choose your preferred language
English
Deutsch
Save
ENEnglish
Choose your preferred language
English
Deutsch
Save

What’s My Tax Class?

The tax class dictates your income tax. In Germany, there are seven different tax classes. Don’t know which to choose? We'll tell you exactly what they are and what they mean.
Do the free tax check now

What the tax class depends on

The tax office assigns every employee a tax class. The tax bracket depends primarily on your marital status: single, single parent or married.

Single parents and married couples or registered civil partnerships can apply for a change to different tax class.

Tax Class 1: Singles

Tax class 1 applies to all unmarried, widowed, divorced, or permanently separated employees. This is the standard tax bracket.

Annual basic allowance (Grundfreibetrag):

9,168 Euros 2019
9,408 Euros 2020
9,744 Euros 2021

Optimized for Kurzarbeit and ALG I

Have you faced short-time work (Kurzarbeit) in 2020 or 2021 and are, therefore, obligated to file your taxes? Use Taxfix and file your taxes quick and easy.

Tax Class 2: Single Parents

This Tax class is intended for single employees with children who receive the tax credit for single parents (Entlastungsbetrag für Alleinerziehende). You need to apply for the change to Tax Class 2 since this is not an automatic process.

Annual basic allowance (Grundfreibetrag):

9,168 Euros + 1,908 Euros tax credit for single parents 2019
9,408 Euros + 4,008 Euros tax credit for single parents 2020
9,744 Euros + 4,008 Euros tax credit for single parents 2021
Please note:
Due to the corona pandemic, the relief amount has been increased to 4,008 Euros. In the Annual Tax Act 2020, this increase is set for an unlimited period of time, which means that it is permanently valid from the 2020 assessment period.

Tax Class 3: Married Couples in Combination With Tax Class 5

Tax class 3 can be applied for by a spouse who has a much higher family income. This means that his income is less taxed. The other partner is assigned tax class 5 by default.

Annual basic allowance (Grundfreibetrag):

18,336 Euros and the obligation to submit a tax return 2019
18,816 Euros and the obligation to submit a tax return 2020
19,488 Euros and the obligation to submit the tax return 2021

Tax Class 4: Married Couples With the Same Salary

Tax class 4 applies to married people if both spouses earn a salary, live in Germany, and are not separated. All newly married couples have tax class 4 by default. It is tax-favourable if the spouses have approximately the same income and are taxed individually (Ehegattensplitting) instead of jointly.

Annual basic allowance (Grundfreibetrag):

9,168 Euros 2019
9,408 Euros 2020
9,744 Euros 2021

Tax Class 4 With Factor

In many cases, tax class 4 with a factor implies that no taxes need to be paid. The tax office calculates the tax year’s expected tax liability and automatically withholds the income tax every month. This means that the ‘splitting advantage’ is used during the year.

9,168 Euros and obligation to submit a tax return 2019
9,408 Euros and obligation to submit a tax return 2020
9,744 Euros and obligation to submit a tax return 2021

Tax Class 5: Married Couples in Combination With Tax Class 3

A married person is assigned tax class 5 a spouse if the other spouse (who has a higher income) changes to tax class 3 upon request. The lower-income spouse in tax class 5 is then taxed higher. Nevertheless, the 3/5 combination is worthwhile for couples with a wide difference in income.

Annual basic allowance (Grundfreibetrag):

0 Euros and obligation to submit the tax return

Tax class 6 applies to employees who have other jobs in addition to their first job. It is associated with the highest deductions, as there are no tax exemptions. From the first part-time job onwards, income tax is withheld. The first employment relationship remains in tax class 1.

Annual basic allowance (Grundfreibetrag):

0 euros & duty to submit the tax return
Tip:
Change tax class for higher parental allowance!
Married couples expecting a child can use a trick to get a higher parental allowance. If both partners have tax class 4, they can switch to tax class combination 3/5. The partner with the lower deductions receives a higher parental allowance, as it is calculated based on the net income.
But be careful:
You must pick the right moment to change your tax class. When calculating the parental allowance, the tax office considers the income for which the same tax bracket predominantly applied twelve months before the birth. You must enter the tax class change must, therefore, seven months before the child is born.

You can later switch back to the old tax class. The overpaid taxes of the other spouse are finally recovered with the tax return.

Unemployment benefit is also calculated based on your net salary. If you face the threat of unemployment, you can use this tip for higher unemployment benefits.

How Do I Change My Tax Class?

You can change your tax class once a year.

Married couples who want to change from the tax class combination 4/4 to 3/5 or back can use this form: Application for a tax class change for spouses / domestic partners.

For single parents who want to change from tax class 1 to tax class 2, the tax office provides this form: Insurance for the relief amount for single parents (tax class 2).

The change to tax class 4 takes place automatically for both individuals once they get married. Married couples may also switch to a more favourable tax class combination during unemployment or resumption of work.

Incidentally, one may change the tax class more frequently in exceptional cases. If the family situation changes for single parents, they can return to tax class 1.

Julian Schwarzmann
by Julian Schwarzmann
published on: 18.08.2022
updated on: 25.08.2022

Optimized for Kurzarbeit and ALG I

Have you faced short-time work (Kurzarbeit) in 2020 or 2021 and are, therefore, obligated to file your taxes? Use Taxfix and file your taxes quick and easy.

You might also be interested in this
About Taxfix

With Taxfix you can do your tax return quickly and paperless from anywhere – both via the app on your smartphone and online in the browser. You provide information about your tax situation according to the question-and-answer principle and have your possible refund calculated. Your data will then be securely transmitted via the ELSTER interface.