For members


Why people in Germany are being advised to switch energy suppliers

As energy prices continue to fall in Germany, experts are advising people to consider switching supplier to get a better deal.

A household electricity plug
Electricity prices have been falling in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Swen Pförtner

What’s happening?

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, energy prices reached record highs, causing misery for consumers in Germany. 

But in the last few months, the cost of gas and electricity has been falling. In fact, March was the first month since the start of the war where energy prices were below the cost from the same period last year.

At the moment many suppliers are lowering their prices for electricity and gas, and consumer protection groups are recommending that households check their contracts, compare prices and change suppliers if necessary.

“Household electricity prices for new customers have fallen continuously since December 2022,” said electricity market expert Mirko Schlossarczyk from the consultancy Enervis. Current offers are below 30 cents per kilowatt hour, he added.

“For existing customers and those receiving the basic (default) supply, however, the price level is still noticeably higher and is currently a little over 40 cents (per kilowatt hour).” These prices have only fallen slightly in recent months, Schlossarcyzk said.

Why have prices been falling?

The coalition government’s energy price caps account have helped to bring costs down. 

The electricity price brake  – which caps electricity costs for households and small businesses with a yearly demand of up to 30,000-kilowatt hours at 40 cents per kilowatt hour – has been applied to all electricity customers in Germany since January this year. 

The gas price brake – which caps prices at 12 cents per kilowatt hour – started in March 2023 and retroactively covers the months of January and February.

READ ALSO: Why consumers in Germany are seeing their energy costs go down

For the remaining usage, the regular market price has to be paid by households – and costs there have been going down significantly.

According to Schlossarczyk, the main reason for the decline in consumer electricity prices is the significant drop in wholesale prices.

A one-euro coin stands between the flames of a gas-powered cooker.

A one-euro coin stands between the flames of a gas-powered cooker. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Holger Hollemann

However, many consumers haven’t yet benefited from the lower market prices for gas and electricity, as they are still being supplied with energy that suppliers bought at higher prices last year.

When it comes to electricity, 76 percent of electricity tariffs in the basic supply sector – in other words, the suppliers that have the most customers in a certain region – are still above the electricity price brake in some cases despite reductions, according to the comparison portal Check24. 

In the alternative supply, 88 percent of the tariffs are cheaper than the price brake, said a spokesperson.

With an annual consumption of 5,000 kilowatt hours, new customers currently pay an average of 31.4 cents per kilowatt hour. In the basic supply, on the other hand, it stands at an average of 43.2 cents. For comparison – according to the German Energy Association BDEW, the average electricity price in Germany was just under 32 cents in June 2021.

But the basic supplies aren’t immune to the downwards spiral in prices. According to a spokesperson, the comparison portal Verivox sees “a clear trend towards price reductions at present”.

For the months of June, July and August, the portal has so far registered 94 electricity price reductions averaging a 12 percent drop, although there are also a few increases. 

For the coming months, Schlossarczyk expects prices of 28 to 30 cents per kilowatt hour for new customers. For existing customer contracts and people receiving the basic supply he expects some noticeable price reductions.

What’s happening with gas prices?

According to Verivox, gas prices are also declining significantly.

In the basic supply sector, the portal has so far registered 75 price reductions by an average of 17 percent for June, July and August. Nine suppliers have announced increases averaging 9 percent.

Check24 has registered 106 gas price reductions of the basic supply since January. Despite these reductions, 90 percent of the gas tariffs in the basic supply are still above the gas price brake, the company reports.

A person in Germany holds cash. The government has pledged to clamp down on gas prices.

A person in Germany holds cash. The government is clamping down on gas prices with a gas price break. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

On average, consumers there were paying 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour of gas. In contrast, 80 percent of the tariffs in the alternative supply are already cheaper than the price brake. Check24 puts the average at 9.4 cents.

According to BDEW, the average gas price in Germany in June 2021, i.e. before the energy crisis began, was 6 cents per kilowatt hour.

What do consumer experts say about the energy price development?

They say that customers in Germany should take action if they can.

“We recommend switching suppliers,” said Christina Wallraf, energy expert at the Consumer Advice Centre in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The prices for new customers are “quite acceptable again”.

Those who want to switch should examine their existing contract, said Wallraf, adding that it is important to find out the remaining term and the notice period in order to work out the right time for a change of supplier.

“If you are currently in the basic supply, the contract can be terminated at any time, taking into account the statutory two-week notice period,” she said.

The consumer advice centre also suggests using comparison portals to make an individual adjustment before making a tariff comparison.

READ ALSO: How to change electricity and gas suppliers in Germany 

For example, the filter “direct switching option via the portal” should be set to display as many tariffs as possible.

Consumers should also make sure that prices are guaranteed in the contract in case case energy prices rise again in the coming winter.

The centre also advises consumers to do an internet search on the company to check if they have positive or negative reviews from previous customers. 

Could energy prices go through the roof again this winter?

Energy market expert Schlossarczyk thinks that is unlikely.

“Due to the price cap in the end customer price segment alone, the burden limit for household customers is capped until April 2024,” he said.

He predicted that there wouldn’t be a price explosion for household customers in the coming autumn and winter.

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For members


Should you get a tax advisor in Germany – and how much does it cost?

Filing your tax return in Germany can be straightforward - or a complicated nightmare. If your situation is closer to the latter, you might want to consider a tax advisor or tax assistance. Here's how to figure out which is right for you.

Should you get a tax advisor in Germany - and how much does it cost?

Not everybody living in Germany knows off the top of their head about Werbungskosten (income-related expenses), Betriebsausgaben (business expenses), Sonderausgaben (special expenses) or außergewöhnliche Belastungen (extraordinary burdens). 

So it comes as little surprise that both employees and freelancers toy with the idea of getting a Steuerberater (tax advisor) to figure all these out for them – and in the best case scenario save a bit of cash, even after deducting what the advisor charges.

And there’s another big benefit too: Those who seek the help of a tax advisor have (much) longer to submit their Steuererklärung (tax return). For the 2022 tax year, the deadline with an advisor isn’t until July 31st, 2024. But self-filers need to submit their returns by Monday, October 2nd.


But do you still need a tax advisor?

Most employees with “just” one job and no additional sources of income – or complicated potential tax deductions – don’t really need a tax advisor. They can usually fill out their tax return themselves quite easily, especially with Germany’s official tax filing program Elster, or a slew of free filing apps like Taxfix.

Germany's electronic tax-filing portal, Elster

Germany’s electronic tax-filing portal, Elster. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

Employees don’t even need to file a return at all – but it’s still advisable to do so as most can get upwards of €1,000 back on their return for day-to-day expenses. 

READ ALSO: The top tax deductions often overlooked by employees in Germany

In some cases, though, it might be a smarter move to pass your return onto a Steuerberater. This holds especially true if you have had different types of income, for example from self-employment, from foreign capital gains, or from renting and leasing. Very special cases also require the knowledge of a tax expert.

These include employees who work abroad (even partially), cross-border commuters with residence in Germany and place of work in a neighbouring country or inheritance cases. Even installing your own solar panels on your roof can complicate a tax return.

What alternatives are there to a tax advisor?

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to a Steuerberater, you can turn to the Lohnsteuerhilfe (income tax help). They advise employees, pensioners and retirees. The prerequisite is membership in an income tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein). This costs about €150 per year on average, but around €100 is deductible as tax consultancy costs.

The association prepares the tax return, sends it to the tax office and also takes care of any further correspondence with the authorities. Lohnsteuerhilfe also provides support in the event of an appeal against the final tax assessment or any lawsuits which arise as a result.

The Lohnsteuerhilfe is allowed to give advice if it concerns income from non-self-employed work, pensions and annuities and/or maintenance payments

Freelancers and most tradespeople are usually excluded, and will in turn need to seek the assistance of a Steuerberater if they don’t want to (or can’t) file on their own.

What does a Steuerberater do exactly?

Tax advisors support employees, self-employed people and companies in their tax affairs. They of course prepare income tax returns but their long list of services might include calculating and advising on social security contributions, creating an annual balance sheet and payroll accounting.

How do I find a good tax advisor?

One way to find the right tax advisor is to gather recommendations from colleagues or friends. Further information can be found on the websites of the firms. Are there already tax tips or videos with useful content? Are the qualifications of the staff presented transparently? But just like with a menu at a super fancy restaurant: information on costs can rarely be found.

In any case, an initial phone call will help, because – in addition to the qualifications – the chemistry should be right. Explain your personal situation and your expectations, and it will usually be clear after an initial chat if they’re qualified to help.

A calculator next to a tax return form.

A calculator next to a tax return form. Many people can get money back from submitting a tax return. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Oliver Berg

Some tax advisors have specialised in certain professional groups and are particularly fit in this area. These can be farmers, craftsmen, freelancers or medical professions. Others have specialised in particular legal forms such as cooperatives, are experts in inheritances and gifts or in international tax law.

READ ALSO: Reader Question: How can I find a German tax advisor?

The Federal Chamber of Tax Advisors (Bundessteuerberaterkammer) has set up a search service where specialists can be found for specific fields or by postcode. Around 15,000 firms and advisors are listed.

The tax advisor cooperative Datev also offers a search service, as does, where it’s possible to plug in location and desired subject area.

What are the costs for a tax adviser?

This can vary widely depending on factors such as the complexity of your tax situation, the specific services you require, and the location and experience level of the advisor.  Generally, you can expect to fork down either an hourly rate or a flat fee for their services.

Hourly rates can range from around €100 to €300 or more, while flat fees might be negotiated based on the scope of the work.

Many give free initial consultations, including estimates of the total costs. So when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to shop around!