Corporate - Taxes on corporate income

Last reviewed - 09 July 2020

Germany taxes its corporate residents on their worldwide income. However, most double tax treaties (DTTs) exempt income attributable to a foreign permanent establishment (PE). Non-residents with PE or property income are taxed by assessment on German-source income; those earning royalties and dividends are taxed by withholding at source. Interest paid abroad is, in most cases, free of German tax altogether.

German business profits are subject to two taxes, corporation tax and trade tax.

Corporation tax (Körperschaftsteuer)

Corporation tax is levied at a uniform rate of 15% and is then subject to a surcharge of 5.5% (solidarity surcharge). This results in a total tax rate of 15.825%.

Trade tax (Gewerbesteuer)

The trade tax rate is a combination of a uniform tax rate of 3.5% (base rate) and a municipal tax rate (Hebesatz) depending on where the PEs of the business are located. Currently, municipalities with at least 80,000 inhabitants currently levy trade tax at a rate of between 12.6% (Hebesatz of 360%) and 20.3% (Hebesatz of 580%).

The basis for this tax is the adjusted profit for corporation tax purposes: in particular, 25% of all financing costs over 100,000 euros (EUR), including the implicit financing costs in leasing, rental, and royalty payments, are added back to taxable income.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tax-exempt amount of trade tax add-backs will be increased from EUR 100,000 to EUR 200,000.

If the basis for the two taxes is identical (unlikely in practice), the overall burden on corporate profits earned in Munich would be approximately 33%. In Frankfurt, the burden would be 32%. In Berlin, it would be 30%.