For members


Everything that changes in Germany in April 2023

From the €49 ticket pre-sale to higher tax allowances for employees and single parents, here's everything that's set to change in Germany in the coming month.

Blossom tree in Hannover
A tree in bloom outside an evangelical church in the Kleefeld district of Hannover. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

End of the (last few) Covid rules

“Rules – what rules?” is likely to be the question on everybody’s lips when the Infection Protection Act quietly expires on April 7th – and it’s true that, unless you work in a clinic or care home, the end of this bill probably won’t change much in your day-to-day life. With the end of masks on public transport in large swathes of Germany back in February, Germany toppled one of the last few Covid rules it had – and since then people have generally only needed an FFP2 mask for the odd doctor visit.

That said, the end of the bill is pretty significant in another way. It signals the end of a three-year pandemic that shook the world and the official recognition that a virus that was once so deadly has now become endemic. Just like the winter flu and common cold, Covid is here to stay, but nobody will be feeling too sentimental about leaving the days of lockdowns, tests, and vaccine passes behind us. 

No more sick notes by telephone

On March 31st, special regulations allowing people to get a sick note from their doctor over the phone will expire. This was initially intended to avoid unnecessary Covid infections but, given the much less risky situation at present, officials don’t think there’s a need for it anymore.

However, there could still be a way to avoid lengthy stays in the doctor’s waiting room in future. If your GP offers the service, you can always get your sick note (or Krankschreibung) after a video appointment instead – provided your illness doesn’t require a physical inspection. 

Higher tax allowances

In the days of grim financial news, there’s a bit of light on the horizon for taxpayers as higher tax-free allowances for both employees and single parents will apply from April. 

Starting next month, the so-called Arbeitnehmerpauschale (employee lump sum) will be hiked up to €1,230 per year. This is the amount of expenses the tax office assumes you’ll have in relation to your work and deducts from your taxable salary (without needing proof) each year.

The tax-free allowance for single parents will also be increased to at least €4,260 (plus €240 for additional children), meaning single mums and dads get to keep a little bit more of their salaries. 

If you’re feeling a slight sense of deja vu, it may be because both of these tax-free amounts actually went up at the start of this year, but April marks the first month they will be factored into your payslips. So if you see a little bit extra in your bank account next month, that could be why. 


Deutschlandticket goes on sale

It was meant to be hitting the ticket offices back in January, but as the saying goes: better late than never. 

From April 3rd, the official pre-sale of the €49 ticket will kick off, allowing early birds to set up their Abo via Deutsche Bahn ahead of the launch of the ticket in May.

Of course, some states have been much quicker off the mark than Germany’s rail operator, so if you live in Frankfurt or Berlin, for instance, you may have already got your subscription sorted. 

It’s worth noting that some states are working on further concessions for students or pensioners, while some people may be able to get the ticket cheaper via their work, so be sure to check with your employer first to see if you’re entitled to a ‘Jobticket’. 

READ ALSO: State by state: Who will get a discount on Germany’s €49 transport ticket?

?An S-Bahn train in Cologne.

An S-Bahn train in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Microsoft hikes its prices

First it was gas, then it was groceries, then it was beer – and now even software products are going up in price. 

Starting in April, tech giant Microsoft has announced price rises across its cloud products, which include Microsoft 365, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 as well as Microsoft Defender and Teams. The price hikes will depend on the product, but some customers could see their subscription go up by as much as 20 percent.

To justify the move, the company pointed to changes in the value of global currencies and said it wanted to make its pricing more consistent for customers around the world. This is also something they’ll look at twice a year going forward – so brace yourself for even more price hikes six months down the line. 

Gay men are allowed to give blood

A rule that banned homosexual men from donating blood will be scrapped in April. From then on, anyone will be allowed to give blood regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, or whether they are cis or trans.

What will continue to remain the case is that people who regularly change their sexual partner – or have multiple sexual partners – will not be permitted to give blood. This is determined via a questionnaire that potential donors fill out beforehand. 

Painters, builders and agency workers get a pay rise 

Life is getting more expensive in Germany, but some workers are also set to get a healthy boost to their wage packets from April.

Under a collective agreement that was signed back in January, painters and varnishers got their basic hourly wage hiked to €18.39 in the western states and Berlin and €17.86 in the eastern states. 

Workers a little lower down the pecking order are now due a pay rise as well, as the industry-specific minimum wage for helpers will rise to €12.50 per hour and the second minimum wage will increase to €14.50.

Painter and decorator

A painter and decorator at work. Low-paid workers in this sector are set to get a pay rise in April. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Kirsten Neumann

As well as painters and varnishers, construction workers can also look forward to more money from April 1st. Wages in western Germany will be increased by two percent and in eastern Germany by 2.7 percent, and workers will be given a bonus of €1,000 to compensate for inflation.

The collective agreement also stipulates that workers will receive compensation for travelling to construction sites. These are paid as lump sums and are based on the number of kilometres.

Temp or agency workers will also be taking home a little bit extra next month as the minimum wage in their sector increases to €13 per hour. 

New questions on driving tests

Thinking of biting the bullet and getting a German driving licence? Then make sure you have an up-to-date practice test, as 44 new questions are set to be added to the theory test from April. 

Of these new questions, 23 will only apply to Class B licences – the type that most drivers need in order to get behind the wheel. 

If you’re using one of the popular apps to prepare for your test, you’ll need to ensure this is fully up to date by the time you sit down for the exam. 

READ ALSO: How to get a German driver’s licence as a third-country national

Lights go back on in towns and cities

The clocks are going forward this week, and the evenings are set to get lighter in more ways than one. As well as a precious extra hour of sunshine late in the day, towns and cities will once again be permitted to illuminate their statues, fountains, building sites and public buildings at night. 

Cyclist in Saarbrücken

A cyclist rides past the fountain on St. Johanner Markt in Saarbrücken. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Dietze

That’s because the emergency energy saving measures introduced last September are due to expire on April 15th – provided they’re not extended. This legislation was initially brought in following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a time when Germany was struggling to reduce its energy usage and its dependence on Russian gas. But with winter behind us and the gas storage facilities still relatively full, this summer will likely see a much more relaxed approach to energy usage.

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s energy saving rules

Nuclear power plants to close

Just as Germany looks set to loosen up its energy-saving rules, the country’s three remaining nuclear power plants –  will be powered down for (potentially) the last time. 

As part of the government’s transition away from nuclear power and coal, these three plants – Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland – were originally set to be shut down at the end of 2022. However, due the war in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, the government kept them in operation – but the Federal Office for Nuclear Waste has announced that these will close in the middle of April. 

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For members


EXPLAINED: The top tax deductions often overlooked by employees in Germany

Employees in Germany aren't required to file an income tax return - but it's recommended they do as the average filer gets €1,000 back. Here are our top tips to get the most bang for your euro.

EXPLAINED: The top tax deductions often overlooked by employees in Germany

Employees in Germany pay income tax every month – without having to pay it themselves. That’s because employers automatically deduct the monthly amount that their Mitarbeiter (employees) owe straight from their paycheck.

However, the Arbeitgeber (employer) doesn’t usually take the employees’ daily tax-deductible expenses  – ranging from transport to childcare – into account.

It is therefore all the more important for employees to take stock after the end of a year with their tax return and to let the Steueramt (tax office) know which tax deductible expenses have been incurred. 

Note that any employee with extra income – for example renting out a property – always has to file taxes by the yearly deadline. But employees who just receive income from their employer have up to four years after this deadline to claim back expenses.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s extended tax filing deadlines

Married couples/domestic partners 

Those who marry or register a civil partnership can benefit from the so-called Ehegattensplitting (spousal splitting) for the first time in that same tax year. In most cases, this reduces the tax burden, according to Germany’s Taxpayers’ Association.

Partners file a joint tax return and choose a joint assessment. The tax office adds the partners’ incomes to a total income and divides it by two. Half of the total income is then used to calculate the tax burden, which is then simply doubled. 

The greater the difference in income between the partners, the more likely it is that joint assessment is worthwhile, Florian Machnow of the tax start-up Taxfix told broadcaster NDR. If both earn the same amount, however, the tax burden does not change.

Taking up a job during the year

Whether unemployed, on sabbatical or entering the workforce for the first time, for example after graduation from uni: those who were only employed for part of the year can most often count on a sizable tax refund.

The reason for this, according to the Taxpayers’ Association, is that the monthly payment of wages is based on the assumption that those wages will be paid for the entire year – and the tax paid is correspondingly high. 

However, if you only receive a salary for part of the year, you will have a much lower annual income – and thus a lower tax burden than assumed by an employer.

German Elster tax platform

The German Elster tax platform. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

Expenses for childcare

If you have children, you can deduct childcare costs – such as Kita (daycare) fees or school fees – from your tax return. As Munich-based expat tax advisor Thomas Zitzelsberger previously told The Local, two-thirds of the costs can be deducted as special expenses, up to a maximum of €4,000 per child.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The tax cuts foreign parents in Germany need to know about

Long journeys to work

Taxpayers who have to travel long distances to work can claim these for tax purposes. For the first 20 kilometres, 30 cents each can be claimed as a lump sum. From the 21st kilometre onwards, they can even get 38 cents each – regardless of whether you travel by bike, car or train.

High expenses for professional activity

The Taxpayers’ Association (Bund der Steuerzahler) advises that anyone who makes expensive purchases for job-related reasons, or attends training courses that are not paid for by their employer, can deduct the expenses as income-related expenses. 

Working in a ‘home office’ can also increase income-related expenses. For each day of working from home, taxpayers can deduct a lump sum of €6.

READ ALSO: Germany to extend (and increase) tax rebate of people working from home

High ‘special payment’ (Sonderzahlung)

Whether it is a bonus for good work or severance pay for the early termination of an employment contract: one-off special payments can lead to a particularly high amount of income tax to be deducted by the employer – and often too much. If you file a tax return, you can get back the extra tax you paid on them.

Job-related move

Moving house for a new job? If you start a new position in another city, or return to a job after a posting abroad, you can include the costs of the move in your tax return.

But it’s not just the relocation itself that needs to be taken into account. You can also deduct travel expenses incurred in order to view flats, pay estate agents or even make double rent payments. Just make sure you document all of the costs.  

Costs directly related to the move, such as the renovation of the old flat, re-registration and the professional installation of lamps, can also be taken into account with the so-called flat rate for moving costs, wrote the advice portal “Finanztip”. Taxpayers can deduct up to €886 in their tax return – and if a spouse or partner, unmarried children, stepchildren or foster children also move, there is an additional €590 per person on top.

A piggy bank

A German piggy bank with euro notes. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

Paid church tax

“Anyone who is a member of a church in Germany has to pay up to nine percent church tax,” said Machnow from Taxfix. “The good thing is that it can be deducted.” 

For tax purposes, church tax is treated just like a donation and entered under special expenses. 

Energy relief payment not received

Taxpayers who did not receive the energy relief payment of €300 in to help with energy expenses in 2022 can get the money via the tax return. 

The tax office will automatically take the lump sum into account when it is submitted.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €300 energy relief payment 

High extraordinary burdens due to illness

Whether medical expenses, expenses for prescription drugs or the required wheelchair: “If taxpayers have incurred a particularly large amount of expenses for their own medical costs in one year, this can have a tax-reducing effect,” said the Taxpayers’ Association. The costs are entered under extraordinary burdens.

The prerequisite is that medical expenses exceed the reasonable burden limit. This depends on income, marital status and the number of children.

Capital gains

Have you sold any securities at a profit this tax year and received dividends? Then you could be eligible for a tax refund. If a taxpayer has paid 25 percent final withholding tax on capital gains, although their marginal tax rate is below 25 percent, he or she can have the difference refunded by the Steueramt.

According to the Taxpayers’ Association, this mainly affects low-income earners, pensioners and students.

Craftsmen’s services or energy-efficient building renovations

If craftsmen carry out work within your own four walls, it can be expensive at first. But the expenses can reduce the tax burden, wrote Finanztip. Twenty percent of the labour costs, but no more than €1,200, can be deducted. To do this, the total invoice amount needs to be entered in the annex “Household-related services”.

According to Finanztip, the tax savings can be significantly higher if the owner-occupied property is renovated. In this case, too, 20 percent of the costs can be deducted, up to a maximum of €40,000. For this purpose, the annex “Energy measures” (Energetische Maßnahmen) has to be filled out on your tax return. The prerequisite is, for example, that no state subsidy was claimed in order to carry out the work.