German Pensions

Companies and Expats often have questions about German Pensions. It can be about entitlements and premiums. Or related issues like (inter)national taxation, investments or (individual/collective) transfer of value.

In order to prevent confusion, we will now address the most relevant general aspects of German Pensions. If you might have specific questions, feel free to contact us. We are experienced in German Pensions and have usefull contacts in Germany.

  • A) German Pension System

    1] Three Pillars

    Germany has three Pension Pillars:

    • Mandatory State Pensions;
    • Mandatory/voluntary Workplace Pensions;
    • Voluntary Individual Pensions.

    Combined they provide the regular Total Pension Claim.

    2] Optimal Planning

    When planning your pension build up, please always:

    • Use all tax benefits (if possible);
    • Focus on low costs;
    • Strive to have maximum flexibility;
    • Acquire advice in case of transfer of value.

    If there are no tax benefits, you should ask yourself why you should participate voluntarily, as it would only commit you to the strict legal/tax pension regime.

  • B) State Pensions

    1] Claims

    The amount of Old Age Pension when retired depends especially on the previous income and the number of years one has worked in Germany.

    The German State Pension Claim can be substantially higher than that of other EU countries if you have had the maximum build up in the past. The current maximum annual build up amounts to gross € 745,-.

    Even though one only has a legal claim to receive pension terms if one has participated for at least for 5 years, this is mitigated by the fact that years participating in other EU countries can also be included to reach those 5 years. In that case, the pay-out will also be pro-rata.

    Regarding the retirement age, like most EU countries Germany is gradually increasing that age to age 67 in the near future.

    2] Premiums

    The amount of mandatory old age pension premium that during the build up phase has to be paid is related to the annual income.

    In general employer and employee each pay 9,35% of the annual wages up to a maximum. The current maximum annual amount of premium an employee has to pay amounts to € 7.477,-.

    3] International Aspects

    Payment Abroad

    If you have an entitlement, this will also be paid to you if you retire outside of Germany.

    Double Taxation

    Please watch out for double taxation: Where you live and at source in Germany. Tax Treaties might be able to prevent or mitigate double taxation. As these issues and treaties can be rather complex, it seems advisable to acquire sound advice.

    4] Website

    For more information please check the German State Website:

  • C) Corporate Pensions

    1] Pension Basics

    German pension law defines an occupational pension claim as a claim regarding:

    • Old age;
    • Next of kin;
    • Disability coverage.

    Occupational pensions are in general not mandatory. They are often organised by the social partners.

    2] Allowed Institutions

    German pension law grants i.e. four kind of institutions the opportunity to cover occupational pension claims:

    I. Pension Fund (Pensionskasse-Pensionsfonds)

    Under the scope of the EU IORP Directive assets are segregated from the sponsoring company. Participants have a direct claim against assets. This is i.e. comparable to for example Dutch pension funds.

    II. Direct Insurance (Direktversicherung)

    Under the scope of the EU Solvency 2 Directive this regards the classic pension insurance scheme of an insurance company. Participants have a direct claim towards the insurance company. This is i.e. comparable to for example Dutch insured pension plans.

    III. Incompany Coverage (Direktzusage)

    Outside of the scope of the EU IORP/Solvency 2 Directives this regards only a book reserve scheme. Assets are not required to be separated from the sponsoring company. Participants have no direct claim against underlying assets.

    Where in option I. and II. the assets are safeguarded outside of the sponsoring company, in this option the participants only have a general claim towards the employer. This option saves the company and employees the profit and costs surplus of an insurance company.

    For participants this results in increased risk in case the company is not healthy. The average employee is due to the BetrAVG in case of insolvency of the employer conditionally protected by the legally mandatory coverage of the PSVaG in Cologne. Which takes care of the reinsurance to a consortium of 51 life insurers. The employers pay the related premium which is linked to the present value of the accrued vested benefits.

    There are also companies who cover the insolvency risk by direct reinsurance. This is especially welcome for managers and directors who might not have the mentioned PSVaG coverage.

    In for example Holland incompany coverage is not possible for collective pension plans. Dutch pension law prefers pension capital to be out of reach of the sponsoring company.

    IV. Support Fund (Unterstützungskasse)

    Outside the scope of the EU IORP Directive it is a separate entity that implements pension claims as granted by the employer. It is a book reserve scheme. Assets are not required to be separated from the sponsoring company. Participants have no direct claim against underlying assets. They do have a claim towards their employer.

    In the ‘pauschaldotierten‘ version it is usual to invest the premium meant for capital creation freely in the sponsoring company. In the ‘rückgedeckten’ version the pension claims are usually reinsured.

    Regarding the insolvency risk the coverage as mentioned under ‘Incompany coverage (Direktzusage)’ is applicable.

    3] Allowed Institutions on Tax & Prudential Requirements

    Each institution has its own tax and prudential requirements position. For example regarding the treatment of contributions, benefits, own funds, investment restrictions and underfunding.

    It is advisable to take these differences into account during the selection process.

    4] Allowed Systems

    German pension law allows three kind of pension systems:

    I. Defined Benefit (DB)

    In this system the granted pension claim is a totally guaranteed pension annuity. The participant has no investment or interest risk.

    The one uncertainty that might exist is that it is not always included for the pension to be annually totally indexed in order to compensate for inflation:

    • There is no obligation to index DB claims during the deferred period.
    • Pensions in payment must be indexed with the Consumer Prices Index every three years.
    • Pensions financed by contributions from the employees must be indexed by at least 1% annually.
    • In case of a Pensionskasse the benefits have to be indexed with 2.25% annually.

    Due to low interest rates this system has become expensive and increasingly out of fashion.

    II. Defined Contribution (DC)

    In a pure DC system the pension claim consists only of the annual deposited premium. This premium will be invested. The total thus created capital will at pension age be used to acquire an annuity. Only the participant has the mentioned total investment and interest risk.

    A pure DC system is allowed according to German pension law since 2018. Before 2018 it did not accept a system which gives the total risk to the participant. Therefore it only allowed DC if there was a certain (costly) minimum return on investment.

    Since 2018 it is possible to have a pure DC system with tax incentives and with a modified PSVaG coverage. As this system is less expensive than the DB system, it has become increasingly popular in Germany.

    III. Hybrid System

    This system is a combination of a DB and DC system.

    5] Own Contribution

    In Germany it is increasingly standard for an employee who participates in a pension plan to have an own contribution.

    6] Pension Indexation

    I. Pension Increases

    Occupational pensions are not mandatory. Still, if they exist in general such pensions in payment must be increased by either:

    • An increase every three years in line with the consumer price index, subject to an upper limit of the net increase in the pay of comparable workers; or
    • an annual increase in advance of at least 1%.

    II. Revaluation Of Deferred Pension Claims

    As of 1-1-‘18, pension rights of employees who leave pensionable service must be revalued to give some protection against inflation. This obligation will be met if one of the following applies:

    • The pension rights are expressed as an entitlement to a specified sum, without provision for inflation protection in deferment (in practice, the amount promised may be higher to reflect the expected reduction in buying power when the benefit comes into payment);
    • The pension rights guarantee a rate of interest that also applies to deferred benefits; or
    • The pension rights are held in a fund secured by a pension fund, a pension scheme or a direct insurance policy and the investment returns are credited to deferred benefits (with the former employee receiving the benefit provided by the fund including investment returns or, if higher, a minimum benefit guaranteed by the employer).

    If none of these apply, the value of the deferred pension rights must be revalued:

    • By 1% per year;
    • In line with the pension rights or net salaries of comparable workers who are still in pensionable service with the employer;
    • In line with increases to the retirement benefits currently paid to beneficiaries of the employer's pension arrangement; or
    • In line with the consumer prices index for Germany.

    7] International Transfer of Value

    German pension law does not in general forbid transfer of value. However, there are many strict tailormade regulations.

    Therefore it is advisable for expats to seek advice on this issue before participating and investing in a pension plan.

    Please also take into account the possible double taxation in home country and at source if there will be no transfer of value. Double taxation might be prevented or mitigated by international tax treaties.

  • D) Occupational Pension Strengthening Act

    The German Occupational Pensions Act called BRSG came into effect in 2018.

    BRSG’s goal is to make company pensions more attractive. It offers a few new opportunities that can be used by employers and employees. The new law is also somewhat controversial. The biggest issue is the prohibition of guarantees. For the first time in the history of German company pensions, legislators are backing away from guarantees. Maybe they had to due to the extremely low interest rate and resulting high costs.

    We will now mention the most relevant aspects of BRSG.

    I] Auto-Enrolment

    An important contribution of the BRSG is to increase participation in workplace pension arrangements by means of ‘auto-enrolment’ into a salary sacrifice ‘options` arrangement. Membership of the arrangement is automatic but employees may opt out if that is what they prefer.

    Employers may only auto-enrol their employees if there is a valid Collective Agreement. The Collective Agreement should extend to any employees who are not members of a Trade Union. Employers should consider if the conditions of a Collective Agreement can be equally applied to employees who are not ordinarily bound by Collective Agreements.

    By now the first auto-enrolment arrangements have been introduced by Company Collective Agreements but their use is not yet that widespread.

    II] Pure DC Schemes Without Minimum Guarantee

    Central at BRSG is to allow employers to support workplace pensions for their employees through contributions to a ‘pure’ DC plan and thus without expensive minimum guarantee claims.

    Pure DC plans can only be introduced by a Collective Agreement or by a reference in a Works Council Agreement or Service Agreement to a corresponding Collective Agreement.

    Collective Agreements may usually only be used by ‘Tariff Companies’, which are employers which have joined the relevant employer association. In an exception relating to pensions, non-tariff companies may refer to a Collective Agreement and may join the associated DC plan, subject to any reasonable conditions.

    Pure DC arrangements may only be established using Direct Insurance, a Pension Fund Society or a Pension Fund. They may only offer a target benefit called ‘defined ambition’. Legal guarantees of a certain level of benefit are prohibited.

    Under a pure DC plan, the employer will pay contributions to the pension provider and the employee's rights under the plan will vest immediately. The pension provider will be liable to pay the employee's pension in due course and may increase or decrease pensions in payment, to reflect investment performance. The form of benefits to be paid is expected to be set out in Collective Agreements.

    The new BRSG obligation to pay an employer contribution of at least 15% of the salary sacrificed by the employee will also apply to pure DC arrangements.

    III] Compulsory Employer Contributions

    When Applies The Contribution Requirement?

    The BRSG contains a new requirement for employers to contribute to their employees' pension arrangement where certain conditions are met:

    • The employee is sacrificing salary into a direct insurance arrangement, pension fund society or pension fund; and
    • The employee's salary sacrifice results in the employer paying lower social security contributions (as social security contributions are not payable on the sacrificed salary).

    Height Of Employer Contribution

    The employer contributions must equal at least 15% of the employee's sacrificed amount, subject to an upper maximum of the employer's saving on social security contributions.

    Where an employee's post-sacrifice salary exceeds the social security contribution ceiling, there will be no social security saving for the employer. Employers may nevertheless choose to pay voluntary contributions in respect of these higher paid employees.

    As Of Which Date?

    Compulsory employer contributions have to be paid as of 1-1-‘19 in respect of salary sacrifice arrangements set up on or after this date.

    If a salary sacrifice arrangement pre-dates 1-1-‘19, compulsory employer contributions must be paid as of 1-1-‘20.

    Contact With Voluntary Arrangements

    An employer who already contributes more to its employees' pension arrangements should decide if its future voluntary contributions will be in addition to the new statutory employer's contribution.

    Alternatively, it may decide to keep the overall level of employer contributions the same by reducing its voluntary contributions to reflect the compulsory contribution.

    Negotiation with employees or trade unions may be required.

    IV] Tax Changes

    As of 2018 the maximum tax-free employer plus employee contributions to a Direct Insurance Arrangement, a Pension Fund Society or a Pension Fund increased from 4% to 8% of the social security contribution ceiling.

    As of 2018 contributions can be paid tax-free for earlier calendar years in which the employer-employee relationship was suspended. Tax-free contributions in respect of previous tax years are limited to 8% of the social security contribution ceiling. These kind of back-service contributions can be paid in respect of a maximum of 10 calendar years.

  • E) Occupational Pension Insolvency Protection

    I] Employer Insolvency

    The Mutual Pension Protection Association (MPPA) provides protection on the employer's insolvency for pension benefits from:

    • Direct promise (book reserve) arrangements;
    • Pension funds;
    • Support funds;
    • Direct insurance only in certain circumstances;
    • Pension fund societies are not covered.

    The MPPA is funded by contributions from employers which have chosen protected pension arrangements for their employees.

    The MPPA only protects employees who have met the statutory vesting requirements.

    Providers of Direct Insurance or a Pension Fund Society are not usually required to give insolvency protection and so their members do not benefit from MPPA protection. However, these arrangements are subject to insurance regulation and the employees have a direct claim against the Insurer or the Pension Fund Society.

    II] Covered Benefits

    Where an external pension arrangement is insufficiently funded to pay the benefits promised, the employer is liable to pay top-up benefits to its former employees to offset the reduction in pensions from the external provider.

  • F) Occupational Pension Overseas Participation

    What are the considerations regarding employees working permanently and temporarily overseas? Are they eligible to join or remain in a plan regulated in your jurisdiction?

    The answer depend upon the plan rules and the individual agreement regarding working overseas. As long as a (dormant) employment relationship with the German employer remains in effect, it is often the case that benefits continue to accrue under the German occupational pension plan, replacing any overseas plans.

    What the most beneficial solution is for the parties involved needs to be assessed in each individual case, also taking tax and social security considerations into account. The employer needs to make sure that any double pension entitlements are credited.

  • G) Occupational Pension Equal Treatment

    We often get the question if employers are required to arrange or contribute to supplementary pension schemes for employees. And what restrictions or prohibitions limit an employer’s ability to exclude certain employees from participation in broad-based retirement plans?

    The employer is under no statutory obligation to provide any form of purely employer-financed occupational pension plan. Thus the employer is free to decide whether or not to offer occupational pensions and to which (group of) employees.

    If a pension scheme is, however, introduced on the basis of a general system, the employer must adhere to the general equal-treatment principle. Which means that distinctions between different groups of employees have to be based on objective reasons.

    In particular the General Act on Equal Treatment provides for certain ‘unlawful’ criteria that may not form the basis for a distinction between groups of employees. Moreover, if the employer provides funds for a collective occupational pension scheme, the distribution of the funds is subject to the co-determination of the works council (if any).

  • H) Private Individual Pensions

    1] Prelude

    As of 2002 each Resident/Expat can invest in a voluntary individual pension plan with tax incentives which can by bought. This option is especially attractive for persons who do not have any State/Occupational Pension Coverage with tax benefits. Which will include many Germans as the pension participation level is 45% and thus very low for EU standards. At the moment there exist 16 million of such individual plans.

    It seems advisable to check this Third Pillar possibility against other First and Second Pillar options for additional coverage. Especially good to compare these aspects:

    • The amount of (risk) premium;
    • The extent of premium payment flexibility;
    • The amount of tax benefits;
    • The amount and kind of (risk) coverages;
    • The kind, flexibility and minimum period of pay-out;
    • The total onetime/annual costs;
    • Investment options and at which costs;
    • International Double Tax Treaty position at moment of pay-out.

    There are two versions which each have their own very different (tax/pay-out) regime:

    • The Riester Pension Plan       : Modest Tax Benefits
    • The Rürup Pension Plan         : Substantial Tax Benefits

    2] The Riester Pension Plan

    A] Participants

    Basically every person who is insured by the German Social Security Service or pays German Income/Wages Tax can get a Riester Plan. Thus almost every one.

    B] Providers

    The Riester Plan can be bought at Insurance Companies or Banks.

    The plans are certified and strictly regulated by the German government. Information regarding costs, benefits, agent commissions, fees and other details must be made transparent and explained fully to potential customers.

    Due to this rather strict regime in order to protect the customer, it might be advisable not to buy the plan from a ‘Start-Up’ or very small company.

    Finally it seems advisable to buy the plan from an independent firm without any ties to banks or insurance companies. Which should not be underestimated as a survey mentioned that many persons have a bad plan.

    C] Type of Plans

    The Riester Pension Plan comes in five investing varieties:

    • Classical with a guaranteed outcome;
    • Unit-Linked/investment based which requires a correct Personal Risk Profile;
    • Bank savings plan;
    • Two kinds of building loan contracts (Wohn-Riester).

    Finally there is the ‘Backpack/Piggyback Contract’: The contract that a spouse concludes to be able to transfer the partner’s contract if the partner would pass away during the contract period. Thus it is a survivor’s protection. It is concluded with an annual fee of € 60,-.

    D] Pay-Out

    • As of age 60.
    • There are different pay-out plans that may involve Lump Sum payments or some sort of Annuity or a combination of the two.
    • A maximum of 30% of the capital can be paid out at once at the start of retirement. The rest of the capital must then be paid out as a lifelong annuity.
    • Under the Riester homeownership pension scheme, savings and government bonuses can also be put towards a mortgage, helping you to pay off the mortgage before you retire.

    E] Premium and Tax Benefits

    The tax benefit has the following aspects:

    • The premium is now tax deductable at your current tax rate and pay-out will be taxed as of pension age and thus much later and probably at a (much) lower tax rate.
    • During pay-out there are only tax and no other no social premium contributions required. Contrary to some other old age pension products.
    • You have to pay 4% of your gross income (minus allowances) from the previous year up to a maximum of € 2.100,- as a contribution to your Riester pension so that you receive the full allowances.

    The details in euro’s:

    • The Riester Pension Plan is a life annuity plan subsidised up to an annual amount of € 2.100,-.
    • At least 4% of the person's income is put towards the pension plan with the government subsidizing € 154,- and an additional € 185,- per child (€ 300,- if born after 2008).
    • To receive the government bonuses one has to contribute a minimum annual payment of € 60,-. To receive the maximum bonuses at least 4% of annual income must be paid into the plan. A maximum of € 2.100,-per year (including the premiums and bonuses) can be saved.
    • An additional one-time bonus of € 200,- is paid to a new policyholder if under age 25 in the first year of the contract. All contributions qualify as a special expense for tax purposes and are tax deductible. (The max annual deduction is € 2.100,-.)
    • The annual minimum premium amounts to € 60,-.

    F] Contract End/Transfer Of Value

    It is allowed to cancel your Riester plan at any time.

    Often termination is the worst option as you would directly have to pay back your allowances and the tax benefits you have received.

    It might be advisable to exempt the contract from future contributions if you are really no longer convinced of the plan.

    Or to change your plan to a better provider. Here you can even transfer the capital you have already build up so far. The old contract then automatically terminates after the capital transfer. The old provider will charge a one time cost in the range of € 80,- / € 120,- and the new provider would charge his own costs.

    For sake of completeness, it is not possible to transfer the Pillar 3 Riester Plan into a Pillar 2 Occupational Pension Plan.

    3] The Rürup Pension Plan

    A] Participants

    It was developed in 2005 for the self-employed, freelancers and high-income earners.

    Anyone can participate but the plan is designed specifically for people with high tax burdens. Contributors to this plan do not receive any government bonuses (subsidies) as in the Riester Pension Plan. But they are allowed to deduct a considerable amount of their contributions from their taxes as special expenses.

    B] Providers

    The plan can be provided by Banks and Insurance Companies.

    C] Type of Plans

    It has several investing varieties:

    • The Classic or fixed interest guaranteed version;
    • The Unit Linked or investment based version with/without any guarantee.

    D] Pay-Out

    • Pensions can be paid out as of age 63.
    • Payment is only possible in the form of a pension. There is no Lump Sum option.
    • They may not be sold or borrowed against and cannot be inherited or transferred.
    • Under certain circumstances, surviving dependants may be covered.

    E] Premium and Tax Benefits

    Regarding the payment of premium into the plan:

    • A one time deposit is allowed;
    • An annual flexible amount of premium (due to tax reasons) is also allowed.

    The tax benefit has the following aspects:

    • The insurance contract must be certified by BZSt (Federal Tax Office).
    • Contributions can be claimed as special expenses for tax purposes. The deductible portion increases by two percent annually. As of 2025, the contributions will be tax-deductible at 100%.
    • In 2020 90% of the contributions with an annual max of € 25.046,- per person can be deducted from tax.

    F] Contract End/Transfer Of Value

    • An early end to the contract is not allowed. Only to stop paying more premium into the plan.
    • A transfer to another plan is not possible. Thus please choose the right advisor and provider.

    G] Disadvantages of Plan

    • Often high costs of pension advisors who work based on commission.
    • Likewise too high costs of providers.
    • For unmarried people, capital expires in case of death.
  • I) Pension Plan Participation

    Expats often have the question to what extent they are obligated to participate in existing German Pension Plans. And to what extent they have the voluntary option to do so in order to for example get substantial tax benefits.

    Pillar 1 State Pensions:

    Expats working in Germany will in general be obligated to participate in the German State Pension Coverage.

    Pillar 2 Occupational Pensions:

    Though company plans are not legally mandatory, they cover about 60% of the German working population. The law allows ‘auto-enrolment’ into an employer's salary sacrifice arrangement with the employee having the right to ‘opt out’.

    Pillar 3 Private Pensions:

    There is the option to voluntarily invest additional premium with substantial tax benefits in especially the Rürup Pension Plans.

  • J) Social Security System

    1] Basics

    Tax and social security regulations and authorities are legally separated from each other. Social security issues are not handled by tax authorities.

    2] Mandatory Participants

    Germany’s social security system applies to all employees who work and are paid in Germany.

    3] German Social Security Coverage

    The German social security coverage entails 6 coverages:

    1. Old age pension insurance           
    2. Health insurance                           
    3. Unemployment insurance            
    4. Invalidity insurance
    5. Social care
    6. Child support

    We will now mention certain notable facts:

    I Health Insurance

    From many insurance companies the employee can choose the prefered one. The employer will then register the employee with that fund. The basic premium is the same whichever health fund one chooses. Some funds demand an additional contribution.

    If the annual income exceeds € 54.900,- one is not bound to be a member of a statutory insurance fund. One is still obliged to be insured but one can join a private health insurance fund.

    II. Unemployment Insurance

    The unemployment benefits usually are only paid to those who have at least paid full social security premiums for two years.

    III. German Social Security Premium

    The premium is paid equally by employees and employers. The employer pays the total contribution directly to the insurance funds. In general it amounts for each to 21% of the wages up to a ceiling.

    The premiums regarding old age pension and health coverage are the most substantial. The amount of premium can differ slightly due to location, kind of branch and size of the company. Due to the lower income in the former eastern part, it has a reduced premium due to a lower ceiling.

    IV. Expats

    Expats residing in Germany fall within the realm of German social security. However, often double coverage is prevented by EU regulations or bilateral agreements.

    Expats who are seconded to Germany for a limited period and continue to be paid by their non-resident employer are therefore often not subject to German social security premiums. An obligation to withhold social security premiums therefore does not generally arise for non-resident employers.

    V. Desired Coverage For Expats

    Expats have to decide what kind and amount of coverage they prefer for their family regarding in general disability, passing away prematurely and old age risks.

    VI. Voluntary Continuation Of Homeland Coverage

    In several home countries it is possible to voluntarily continue the domestic coverage while working abroad as expat. It is advisable to carefully compare the offered coverage with the required premium.

  • K) Next Of Kin Pension Coverage

    For Expats working in Germany and who have a family, it seems advisable to know which kind of coverage they have in case they might pass away.

    The State/Occupational/Private Pensions can each provide for a Next Of Kin Coverage. We often see that if the company has not provided for an additional substantial Lump Sum coverage, the existing total coverage is most of the time not enough.

    It seems advisable to check if the private assets are enough to support the family.

    If not, it seems advisable to check the options for an additional temporary life insurance. Which for example insures the life of the working expat for 5 to 10 year period for a capital in the range of € 500.000,- or € 750.000,- in case there are more children.

    If you look into such an additional coverage please check if:

    • The coverage remains intact if you were to relocate to another country;
    • If the premium is constant;
    • The reputation, client service and rating of the General Conditions.
  • L) German Tax On German Pensions Abroad

    I] Prelude

    For persons who in the past lived and worked in Germany, it is possible that they now live in another country and receive pension pay-out from Germany.

    How about taxation?

    II] International Tax on Pensions

    In general a person is taxed in the residential country for his global income but the country as source that pays-out pensions will often also prefer to tax.

    Thus there is often a situation of double taxation. Which is often prevented or mitigated by Double Tax Treaties between countries. Germany currently has 97 of such treaties.

    III] German Legislation On Pay-Out Abroad

    As of 2005, persons who live outside Germany might need to pay German tax on their German income. However, not all pensioners are liable for tax. It depends on the type of income as well as the country where the pension recipient lives. The size of the pension is not relevant regarding the question if it is liable for tax or not.

    If you receive income from Germany you may be liable to pay German Income Tax on this German income. This applies even if you do not have your place of residence in Germany or do not spend 183 days or more a year in the country. In this case, you have a limited tax liability with respect your German income only (cf. section 1 subsection (4) of the Income Tax Act (Einkommensteuergesetz)).

    The rules about the taxation of other income (pensions) changed fundamentally with the introduction of the Retirement Income Act (Alterseinkünftegesetz) which came into force in 2005. As part of this an amendment was made to limited tax liability in respect of other income under section 49 subsection (1) number 7 and number 10 of the Income Tax Act (Einkommensteuergesetz).

    The following types of pension are therefore liable to tax in Germany:

    Under section 49 subsection (1) number 10 of the Income Tact Act (from 2010 onwards), if you receive one of the following pensions you have limited income tax liability with respect to this pension and you are, as a rule, obliged to submit an income tax return in Germany:

    • Benefits from Occupational Pension Schemes (pension funds, pension schemes and direct insurance companies)
    • Benefits from Personal Old-Age Pension Policies within the meaning of section 22 number 5 of the Income Tax Act

    IV] German Tax On Pensions: In Great Detail

    For the exact details feel free to go to the German State Website:

  • M) Refund Of Retirement Contributions For Expat

    If you are a US, Canadian, Australian citizen or a citizen of a non-EU country, you may be eligible for a refund of your contributions if you contributed for less than 60 months and more than 24 months have transpired since your last required contribution and you have moved home or to a non-EU state.

    According to a brochure from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (German Retirement Fund), your compulsory contributions can be refunded to the full amount and your voluntary contributions can be refunded up to 50 percent. Contributions by your employer will not be refunded.

    Help in the application process is available through the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

    For more information:

  • N) German Oversight Occupational Pensions

    The central organization for financial oversight in Germany is the Bafin. Which is the German federal financial supervisory authority.

    ‘BaFin is a partner in the area of policy formation, supporting the ongoing development of regulation. As an integrated financial supervisor for the banking, securities and insurance sectors, BaFin ensures the stability of the largest financial market in continental Europe. Frankfurt am Main is the heart of this market and is also home to the European Central Bank, the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority.’

    For more details you can visit their website: