Change Tax Class in Germany [Easy 2023 English Guide]
Updated: Feb 11
Changing tax class with a change in life situation can put a lot of money in your pocket.
You can change tax classes offline or online via Elster. In both cases, you need to submit a tax class change application.
You can change your tax classes multiple times in a year.
Change in your marital status, health, or job can trigger a tax class change.
German government increased the basic tax-free allowance to 10,908€ as of 2023.
You can apply for a tax class change and get tax benefits retroactively.
Table of content
You have two ways to change your tax class in Germany.
Submitting a paper form to your local tax office
Applying online for tax class change on Elster
Submitting a paper form to your local tax office
Download the form “Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten” (Application for tax class change for married people).
Print the form, fill it out, sign it, and post it to your local tax office (Finanzamt in German).
How do you fill out the tax class change application?
The tax change application is a small and simple form. Here are the descriptions of the fields in the tax change form.
Your local tax office assigns you a tax number the first time you file an income tax. Thus, you won't have a tax number if this is your first time filing an income tax return.
Hence, fill in this field with your tax number if you have one; else, leave it empty.
An das Finanzamt
Name and address of your local tax office
Bei Wohnsitzwechsel: bisheriges Finanzamt
If you moved to a new city or district, mention the name of your last tax office in this field.
4 - 9
Angaben zur Person
Your personal details
5 & 11
Fill in your and your spouse's tax ID. Everyone living in Germany gets a tax ID that is unique to them.
Depending on your current marital status, fill in the appropriate field.
12 - 15
Spouse's personal details
Here fill your spouse's personal details
Bisherige Steuerklassenkombination (Antragstellende Person/Ehegatte, Lebenspartner[in])
Check the current tax class combination.
Note: You must select the combination starting with your tax class, followed by your spouse's tax class. For example, your tax class is 5, and that of your spouse/partner is 3. Then, check option 5/3.
Wir beantragen die Steuerklassenkombination (Antragstellende Person/Ehegatte, Lebenspartner[in])
Check the new tax class combination you want. Again start with your tax class, followed by your spouse's tax class.
Apply tax class change retroactively from the wedding day.
By checking this box, you request the tax office to evaluate your tax retroactively since the day of your wedding.
31 - 42
Section C: 4/4 with factor
If you selected 4/4 with factor in field 18, you must fill this section. Else, leave it empty.
Voraussichtlicher Jahresbruttoarbeitslohn aus dem ersten Dienstverhältnis
Write your's and your partner's estimated gross annual salary.
bei Versorgungsempfängern: im Jahresbruttoarbeitslohn enthaltene Versorgungsbezüge
If you are receiving a pension, mention the annual pension you get.
Zahl der Monate im Antragsjahr, für die Versorgungsbezüge gezahlt wurden/werden
If you are receiving a pension, mention how many months in the claim year you received the pension.
Jahr, in dem Versorgungsbezug erstmalig gewährt wurde/wird
The year in which your pension benefits started.
Ich bin in der gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung pflichtversichert oder in einer berufsständischen Versorgungseinrichtung versichert.
Tick the check box "Ja" (Yes), if you are part of statutory pension insurance or part of your employer's pension insurance. Else tick "Nein" (No).
Similarly, check the appropriate box for your spouse.
Ich bin in der gesetzlichen Kranken- und sozialen Pflegeversicherung versichert.
Tick the check box "Ja" (Yes) if you are part of public health insurance. Else leave this field empty.
Also, mention your "Zusatzbeitrag." You can ask your health insurance provider about the same or check it in your pay slip.
Similarly, fill in the field for your spouse.
monatliche Beiträge zur privaten Krankenversicherung (Basisabsicherung) und zur privaten Pflege-Pflichtversicherung
If you are part of private health insurance, enter your monthly contribution to your private health insurance plan. Else, leave it empty.
Ich habe steuerfreie Arbeitgeberzuschüsse zur privaten Krankenversicherung und zur privaten Pflege-Pflichtversicherung erhalten.
Check the box "Ja" (yes) if you received tax-free subsidies from your employer for private health insurance.
Ich leiste für die Pflegeversicherung einen Beitragszuschlag für kinderlose (§ 55 Abs. 3 SGB XI).
Check the box "Ja" (Yes) If you don't have kids but pay for long-term care insurance for children.
Your's and your partner's signature
44 - 45
Filled by the tax office
Applying online for tax class change on Elster
The German tax office prefers dealing with tax assessment, tax class change, and any other tax-related request digitally.
Elster is the official website of the German tax authorities. It offers many services like filing a tax return, applying for a tax class change, etc.
So, here are the steps to apply for a tax class change on Elster.
Go to the following link.
Select the year and click next. You will be forwarded to the "Log in" page.
Log in using your Elster account. If you don't have an Elster account yet, create one. It may take a few days to create the account as the tax office sends a code via post to complete the registration process.
The application form is similar to the offline form. Only the sequence of questions is different.
If you are applying for a tax class change by yourself, you can skip section/page 3, "Abweichender Absender des Antrags." Your tax consultant will fill this section/page if they apply for a tax class change on your behalf.
Complete the online application and submit it.
NOTE: The employer must account for the new tax class in the payroll beginning next month.
German tax classes (Steuerklassen in German)
There are seven different tax classes in Germany. Your payroll tax deduction depends on your tax class.
Tax class I (Steuerklasse 1 in German)
Tax class 1 applies to the following people.
Widowed employees - but only from the second year after the spouse's death.
A non-german employee whose spouse lives outside the EU.
An employee, subject to limited income tax liability because they earn income in Germany but live abroad permanently.
You pay no tax if you earn less than 10,908€ per annum.
Tax class II (Steuerklasse 2 in German)
All individuals listed in tax class 1 can opt for tax class II, provided they are single parents.
The prerequisite is that at least one child lives in your household for whom you receive a child allowance or child benefit.
Tax class III (Steuerklasse 3 in German)
Tax class 3 applies to married employees and registered civil partners. But, you must fulfill the following conditions to be eligible for this tax class.
You and your partner both live in Germany.
You do not live in different households permanently.
Your spouse does not earn, or they are in tax bracket 5.
Tax class IV (Steuerklasse 4 in German)
The tax office automatically assigns the newly married couples tax class IV irrespective of whether they both work or not. To be eligible for tax class IV, you and your spouse must live in Germany and not live in different households all the time.
The tax deduction is similar to that in tax class 1. Thus, tax class 4 makes sense if both partners earn almost the same income.
Tax class IV with factor (Steuerklasse 4 mit Faktor in German)
The option to select the tax class combination 4/4 with a factor has been available since 2010. The factoring technique ensures a fair distribution of the salary tax burden within a marriage or registered civil partnership.
However, filing an annual tax declaration is compulsory if you opt for tax class IV with factor. Moreover, you must apply to stay in this tax class combination every two years.
Tax class V (Steuerklasse 5 in German)
If one spouse (the one with the higher income) requests to go to tax bracket 3, the other spouse gets the tax class 5.
In tax class 5, the tax office doesn't consider any tax allowances. As a result, the spouse under tax class V ends up paying more tax.
Tax class VI (Steuerklasse 6 in German)
Employees who start a second or third job automatically end up in tax class VI. In tax class VI, one pays the most tax as the tax office considers no tax-free allowance.
But there is a silver lining. You can decide which of your jobs tax class 6 should be applied.
You can read more about tax classes in our guide on "Tax Classes in Germany."
What is the basic tax-free amount in Germany in 2023?
The basic tax-free allowance ensures that the minimum subsistence level remains tax-free for everyone.
Basic Tax-Free Allowance
10,908€ (as of 2023)
For single parents in tax class 2
10,908€ + 4,260€ = 15168€ (as of 2023)
Learn more about the allowances the German government offers to single parents in our guide on "tax allowances in Germany."
What are the income tax rates in Germany?
Germany has progressive tax rates that range from 14% to 45%, depending on your earnings. You can read more about it here.
Most asked questions on changing tax class in Germany
Can I get the tax benefits retroactively?
Yes, the tax office considers the previous months of the year in which you applied for a tax class change.
Usually, it is marriage day. But if your partner does not live in Germany, you cannot apply for a tax class change.
You can only apply for a tax class change once your partner comes to Germany. Hence, in this case, the tax office considers the day your partner registers in Germany instead of the marriage date for calculating taxes retroactively.
Is it worth changing tax classes?
Yes, in most cases, it's worth changing your tax classes after marriage. But we suggest using the tax calculators to calculate the net income with different tax class combinations.
How often can I change my tax classes in Germany?
Since 2020, couples can change their tax classes multiple times a year. The restriction of changing tax classes once a year is not there anymore.
Which life situations can trigger a tax class change?
Any change in your marital status or health, or employment can cause a tax class change. For example, marriage, divorce, death of partner, unemployment, retirement, parental leave, self-employed, etc.
How to change my tax class after divorce or separation?
As soon as a couple splits and starts living separately, the tax office assigns them tax class 1. However, both partners can keep their existing tax classes until the end of the year they are separated.
You can read more about it in our guide on "How does separation or divorce affect ex-partners' tax classes and annual income tax?."
Can I change my tax class after marriage if my partner lives outside Germany?
No, you cannot change tax class if your partner does not live in Germany.
But there is an exception if your partner lives in the EU or Switzerland. In this situation, you can change your tax class if you fulfill the following requirements.
The employee (you) is a national of an EU or EEA country.
The family residence where the spouse/life partner lives is in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland.
At least 90% of the total income is subject to German income tax. The same applies if the income not subject to German income tax does not exceed 19,964€ in the calendar year.