Deutsches Studentenwerk

With or without an income tax card?


If you work in Germany you usually need an income tax number. This can be obtained from the citizens' administration office where you live. However, there are minor occupations, so called mini-jobs, for which you do not need an income tax card.

Basically: different types of employment require different social insurance contributions.

Minor occupation = 450 Euro job = mini-job

If, as a student, you have long term employment for which you do not earn more than 450 Euro per month, the so called mini-job rule applies: you do not have to pay taxes and you can choose not to pay contributions towards the state pension.

The employer, however, does pay pension contributions for mini-jobbers so that their claim to a state pension is secured. Students can supplement the employer's contribution with their own voluntary contributions.

Mini-jobs are also available in private households; legally, for the employee, they are hardly any different from mini-jobs in industry.

Mini-jobs are advertised by the employer in the mini-job centre. If you do several mini-jobs at the same time the total income must remain below 450 Euro, otherwise you have to pay taxes.

More than a minor occupation

In Germany, if you regularly earn more than 450 Euro per month in your job, you will need an income tax number. This means that certain deductions will be made automatically from your salary; for students these are the pension insurance contributions and taxes. As a rule, students get back the tax they have paid at the end of the year. For this they have to submit an income tax return to the tax authorities.

What percent of your income is deducted as a pension insurance contribution depends on the amount of your income. If you receive between 450 and 850 Euro the pension insurance contribution is reduced. The contributions increase gradually and as of 850 Euro per month students pay the full pension insurance contribution of 9.45 %.

Students who work less than 20 hours per week can remain insured by their student insurance. When working more than 20 hours per week students will have to pay contributions to pension insurance, as well as health and unemployment insurance.

Working during term holidays ("lecture-free time")

During the term holidays special rules apply for students.

Jobs taken on during the term holidays are subject to income tax but normally students get back the taxes they have paid at the end of the year via the income tax return.

If the job is carried out only during lecture-free time students do not have to pay any additional health insurance contributions, even if they work more than 20 hours a week.

During term holidays the obligation to pay contributions towards the state pension may not be applicable: this applies if the employment is limited to a maximum of 2 months or 50 working days per year.

Casual work, contract for services, freelance or self-employed

Sometimes students are offered work on a freelance basis. If you work self-employed you don't need an income tax card.

In this case your employer or contractor will ask you to submit an invoice, or you agree on a contract for services.

The income you earn in this manner is not taxed for the time being, but at the end of the year you must declare the income to the tax authorities on your income tax return.

Attention: international students who are not from the EU or EEA are usually not allowed to work self-employed!

Helpful links and information:

  • Video „Tips for International Students - How do I finance my studies in Germany?“

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