Only thing that’s for Sure..
I am a huge Marvin Gaye fan, and one of my favorite songs he has is ‘Trouble Man.’ There is a great line where he says: ‘The only things that’s for sure: taxes, death, and trouble.’ This blog is about Germany and taxes. As you know, or may not know, I am American. The taxes for my wage level are generally low, despite what most people tell you. In California, we do pay a lot more, however. In Germany, they pay much more. Their tax rate for my new income level is 50%. When I saw this, I wanted to cry. My already low salary, will not be much after the tax man is done with it. That is if I can ever get paid. With getting this job, I have had to get health insurance (out of pocket), my work permit, and something the Germans call a Lohnsteuerkarten. I hope I spelled this right. This is my actual tax card. I would equate it to my social security card. I got my number in the mail, but you have to either order one online, or sit at your local municipality. If I do not have this cardboard card, I will not be able to receive a check from my employer. I have been waiting after ordering this online for over a month. Personally, I do not like working for free, but I do not see another way around it.
German citizens to pay a lot in taxes, but I must say I really see the taxes going to work here. The roads are clean, they are not riddled with pot holes. The electricity infrastructure is modern. They don’t have to worry about downed power lines in a storm. There are social programs for people, and health care. You almost do not mind that taxes are high. Now, this is my perspective as an American and only living here less than a year. My boyfriend moans and groans about it constantly, and wonders why we complain over what he calls pennies. He wishes he paid the taxes we do. I wonder how the Germans are much more efficient with more taxes and a lot less people than the states, while the United States has more than twice the people and our tax dollars seem to go down a black hole of spending. I cannot say that it is all a black hole. I went to public school all the way through college. It obviously works in that respect. Although, I do feel gipped about the level of education I did receive. I feel way behind, intellectually than my foreign counterparts.
There is one thing I think the American tax system does do well, it sure is easy to file taxes. My boyfriend was watching me do my taxes online. I am single, no kids, never been married. It is rather simple to file my taxes. Even with my old business, it took about an hour at the most to input all the information, and know exactly how much I had to pay, or how much of a refund I would be getting back. He was in awe. I heard the German tax system is one of the most complicated in the world. I believe it, they make everything else complicated, I cannot imagine the tax code is untouched by the level of bureaucracy and red tape in this country.
Navigating Germany is quite hard, I am lucky to have a German helping me. I would recommend befriending one as well, if you do not have a job that will help you navigate the complexities of getting acquainted with the nuances of the country. I just hope the mail comes, I really hate working for free.