In Germany, you will be required to pay taxes if you live and work here for more than six months. If you are employed by a university, research institution or company, income tax will be deducted directly from your salary. The amount of the deducted income tax depends on your wage, your tax class and on whether you have dependants.

Man sitting on a laptop and talking on the phone. He is busy with claiming the taxes.

Germany has double taxation agreements in place with many countries to ensure that you are not required to also pay taxes in your home country. Some of these agreements also determine how you are taxed as a researcher. Your HR department or local tax authority will know which regulation applies to you.

If you come to Germany on a research scholarship, you will normally be exempt from tax. However, there are some exeptions:

  • Founder’s scholarships that aim to create a technology-oriented or knowledge-based product with great market potential
  • Doctoral students or postdocs who obtained their first university degree more than 10 years ago

You should discuss this with your scholarship provider and check whether your scholarship will be liable to taxation in your home country.

Good to know

The system for electronic tax declaration in Germany is called "Elster" [German] (an acronym for Elektronische Steuer-Erklärung – electronic tax declaration – but also the German word for magpie). It is a project of the German tax administrations of all regions and the federal government for the paperless processing of tax declarations and returns.

You have to file your taxes at your local tax office (even if you are doing it online). Many of these offer an advisory service or hotline for – basic – questions regarding your tax declaration. You can find your local tax office on the website of the Federal Central Tax Office [German].

The Income Tax Assistance Organisations Network [German] (Bund der Lohnsteuerhilfevereine e. V.) has information about income tax assistance organisations near you. Many people in Germany use their advisory services instead of paying for a personal tax adviser.