What is Kindergeld? Who can get it?
The German state offers a lot of support for families, even those who don’t necessarily have a German passport! Kindergeld, or child benefit is a pre-paid tax benefit for those living and working in Germany and even as an expat or immigrant, you may be entitled to claim it.
What is Kindergeld and how does it differ from the Kinderfreibetrag?
Kindergeld is child benefit. It is a pre-paid tax benefit or family support benefit.
In contrast to the child benefit, the child tax allowance- Kinderfreibetrag is not paid but is a deduction from parents’ taxable income and has a tax-reducing effect on the calculation of income tax. Kindergeld payments can be considered as advance payments on the child allowance at the end of the year.
Whether Kindergeld payments or the Kinderfreibetrag is more advantageous for taxpayers is something that is automatically checked by the tax office in the context of a favorable review- a Günstigprüfung. First, income tax is calculated on the previously determined taxable income. Subsequently, taxable income is reduced by the child tax allowance and income tax is recalculated based on the new assessment basis. Only if in both calculations the difference of the income tax exceeds the amount of the child benefit, there is a tax advantage.
Kindergeld is paid by the Agentur für Arbeit- Familienkasse.
Who is entitled to Kindergeld?
German citizens who pay tax in Germany.
Foreign nationals who have an appropriate residence status (check with the Familienkasse if you’re unsure)
Citizens of the European Union and European Economic Area, who are not receiving comparable family benefits in their home country (you may need to prove this if your child was not born in Germany or if one parent works in a different country)
Who live in the same household as their biological, adopted or step-child.
Only one parent is entitled to Kindergeld so usually the other parent waives their right to receive this by signing the application form. If parents are separated and can’t decide who receives the money, the family court makes the decision.
How much is Kindergeld?
Kindergeld is being increased by 2 more Euro from 1st January 2018:
Child 1: 194 Euro
Child 2: 194 Euro
Child 3: 200 Euro
Child 4+: 225 Euro
Per month, payable from birth if your children were born here or from when you became permanently resident in Germany, if you moved here with children born outside of Germany.
If you have children from another relationship, even if they live in a different household in Germany and the other parent is claiming Kindergeld for them, they can still be accounted for in terms of the above constellation, so that if the additional child for whom you’re claiming happens to be child 3, you would receive more money for that child E.g. Chid 1 and Child 2 live with mum, who gets 194 Euro each for them per month. Dad re-marries and his wife has a baby. The baby is her first. Baby will be child 3 for dad, so he can get 6 Euro more than his wife, which means he should claim Kindergeld.
How long will I receive Kindergeld?
Kindergeld is generally paid out until your child turns 18 but in some cases the benefit can be paid until your child turns 25, e.g. if your child is taking part in vocational training, a year of volunteering (Bundes Freiwilliges Jahr) or doesn’t have a job.
As with everything, you’re going to need to fill some paperwork if you want to claim Kindergeld. Luckily, the forms are available in multiple languages but be aware that as non-German nationals or German nationals who have spent time working abroad, you might need to submit a little more paperwork than the average applicant.
Before you claim Kindergeld, you will need a tax ID- Steuer Identifikationsnummer for you and your baby/child(ren). If your baby is born in Germany, this usually is issued automatically. If you move to Germany with children, the tax IDs are usually issued for the whole family, after you’ve done your Anmeldung with the Bürgeramt.
If you leave Germany or your family circumstances change, you need to inform the Familienkasse without delay.
Contribution by Lorna Ather, founder of Landing Pad Berlin, an organisation on a mission to help internationals feel settled and at home, and get the most out of their experience living and working in the German capital. Lorna is the English-speaking Maternity Concierge and Baby Planner at maternita. She is also co-founder of maternita KITA.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Lorna Ather made Berlin her home over a decade ago. A project manager by trade, following the birth of her second child in 2014 she moved from managing software projects to becoming an independent Maternity Concierge and Baby Planner at maternita, supporting families with all organisational aspects of life in Berlin. Lorna is the go-to person for all questions regarding having a baby and raising a family in Berlin.
Meet Lorna at the next Landing Pad Event and get answers to your family relocation questions.