As a strong and well-established legal framework, Germany is considered as a reliable option by many fintech companies. From strong government-level encouragement to funding opportunities and tax exemptions, the conditions for establishing and growing a business in the country are welcoming for startups and industry old-timers alike.
When it comes to establishing and running a crypto business in Germany, it’s especially important to note that cryptocurrency transactions that hold for at least a year receive a 25% tax exemption from the usual amount taxed from capital gains, promoting crypto as an attractive long-term investment.
German taxes are administered by the Finanzamt (tax office). It is a local authority that administers taxes (except for customs duties) on behalf of a respective municipality, federal state and federal government. It is responsible for registering new businesses and collecting several types of taxes, including business taxes.
In Germany, the tax year coincides with the calendar year. Annual tax returns must be filed by the 31st July of the following year (for example, by the 31st of July 2023 for 2022). There’s no requirement for filing tax declarations throughout the year – except for VAT (value added tax), which must be declared on a quarterly basis.
Standard tax rates:
Corporation tax – 15% + solidarity surcharge of 5.5%
Trade tax – 3.5% + municipal tax rate (8,75 – 20.3%)
Value added tax – 19%
Social security contributions – 19.325%
Germany has over 70 international agreements on the elimination of double taxation, which allow those who work abroad to avail of the preferential tax rate or tax exemption. To do so, a certificate of residence proving the location of the taxpayer’s seat for tax purposes must be provided.
Corporate income tax
German tax resident crypto companies are subject to paying the corporate income tax on their worldwide income, while non-resident companies are taxed only on the income sourced in Germany. If your company’s registered office or place of management is in Germany, it’s considered a resident.
Once the tax year has ended, companies in Germany are expected to submit annual income tax declarations to the tax office. Corporate income tax is calculated based on the income earned in that tax year from the transfer of virtual currencies.
Corporation tax is the same country-wide. It’s set at a fixed rate of 15% + 5.5% solidarity surcharge. Trade tax, however, varies based on the municipality that the company is registered in.
The trade tax rate includes two separate variables: a uniform tax rate of 3.5% and a municipal tax rate (Hebesatz). The latter depends on where the business is registered. Typically, in municipalities with at least 80,000 inhabitants, the trade tax rate varies between 8.75% and 20.3%.
Value added tax
Crypto companies registered in Germany must obtain a VAT umber for tax purposes. Currently, they are subject to a standard VAT tax rate of 19%.
However, since German legislation is aligned with EU law, it follows the rule by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which states that the provision of services involving the exchange of cryptocurrencies for fiat money and vice versa is exempt from VAT. Other crypto products and services supplied in Germany might be subject to VAT.
Social security contributions
In the German Social Security System, equal contributions are made by the employer and the employee. The two parties split health insurance costs, pension and long-term care contributions, and unemployment contributions.
The total amount that each party must contribute amounts to 19,325% of the employee’s gross salary.
Tax deductions and research allowance
Fixed assets and intangibles are, in most cases, subject to amortization or depreciation.
Common tax deductions for businesses include:
- Interest expenses;
- Hiring and personnel costs;
- Operating materials and work equipment.
When it comes to research and development, businesses also receive support and additional tax deductions. More specifically, since 2020 companies in Germany are eligible for an annual research allowance of up to EUR 1,000,000.
Furthermore, in cases where the company’s own staff is responsible for research and development, 25% of salaries (including tax-free social security contributions) are credited against the annual tax liability. Any remaining surplus is reimbursed.
Subsidy from the reimbursement can be of significant help to companies, making up for unrealized profit during loss-making phases. This benefit offers a unique competitive edge for start-ups.
At the moment, the main services of our company are legal and compliance solutions for FinTech projects. Our offices are located in Tallinn, Vilnius, Prague, and Warsaw. The legal team can assist with legal analysis, project structuring, and legal regulation.