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What happens if I don’t pay Radio and TV Tax in Germany?


After coming to Germany, the first step is to find accommodation and register yourself in the city registration office. Once a person registers himself in the city registration office, he receives three letters in the letterbox. One letter about tax number, one letter about social security number, and one letter about Radio and TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag).

The first two letters only contain information about the personal tax number and personal social security number. But the third letter gives a shock to a new person. Why?

Because it informs you that now onward it is a must for you to pay Radio and TV tax each month. You think that I’m new in Germany, I don’t know the German language, I don’t have any Radio or TV then why do I pay for this tax?

So, I will tell you more about this Radio and TV tax. What is this? Why it is necessary to pay? How you can reduce it or avoid it? And, What will happen if you will avoid paying it?

What is the Radio and TV tax in Germany?

The Radio and TV tax or license fee (Rundfunkbeitrag) is a way to finance public broadcasters in Germany since 2013. It simply means that all residents in Germany pay a certain amount to support the continuity of public Radio stations and TV channels. This collected money helps public broadcasters to survive and compete against commercial or private broadcasters.

Why it is necessary to pay Radio and TV tax in Germany?

Radio and TV tax enforced in Germany since 2013 so it is a must for everybody to pay it. It is even must for asylum seekers, international students, and trainees as well to pay this tax.

How much is the Radio and TV tax in Germany?

The fixed amount of Radio and TV tax in Germany was 17.50 euros per month but it is recently increased by Federal Constitutional Court on 20th July 2021. The new amount of Radio and TV tax in Germany will be 18.36 euros per month. This change will apply from July 2021.

How can I pay Radio and TV tax in Germany?

You can pay it quarterly (3 months), half-yearly (6 months), or yearly (12 months) with the SEPA Direct Debit payment method.

Who has to pay Radio and TV tax in Germany?

It is paid according to per household-based. For example, if a family is living in a house then only one person will pay it. If people are living in a shared apartment even then only one person will pay this tax. So, if you are living alone in an apartment then you will pay this tax by yourself. If you are living with your family or in a shared apartment (WG) then only one person will pay it.

Is it must for international students to pay Radio and TV tax in Germany?

Yes, it is must for international students to pay Radio and TV tax in Germany.

I’m living in a shared apartment (WG), do I have to pay for it by myself?

No, only one person will pay it because it is per household based. Rest will divide this amount and pay the portion of the total amount to the main person. The process will be like this:

Contact the person who already paying this tax. Take this person’s contribution number (Beitragsnummer) and add this to your form (by selecting the option: somebody else is paying in the house). Later you can pay a portion of the total amount to this person.

I’m living in a student residence hall. Do I have to pay it separately?

If you have your own separate kitchen and bathroom then yes you have to pay it separately. If your kitchen and bath are shared then the flat-share (one pay other divides) rule will apply.

I’m doing my Ausbildung in Germany. Do I have to pay this tax?

If you are getting money during your Ausbildung then yes you have to pay Radio and TV Tax.

How you can reduce it or avoid it?

You cannot avoid it. But, you can reduce it by living in a shared apartment (WG). Only one person will pay it in a shared apartment. So choose one person (who has the main contract of the apartment) who will pay it and others can divide the total amount on all the tenants and pay the portion to the main person (who is pay this tax). For example:
5 people are living in a shared apartment.
The total amount is: 18.36 euros per month
The Portion of amount for each person will be: 18.36/5 = 3.672 euros per month
So, one tenant will pay 18.36 euros per month to ARD and others will pay 3.672 euros per month to this main tenant. (It’s not a rule or standard in Germany but people who live in a shared apartment pay like this.)

Who is exempted from this tax?

People who get social benefits are exempted from this tax. These social benefits are BAföG, unemployment benefits, and asylum seekers benefits.

I don’t have a TV and I don’t listen to the Radio. Do I have to pay this tax?

The simple answer is yes. You have to pay this tax because it is a must.

What will happen if you will avoid paying it?

If you avoid paying it then you will be fined. So, better to pay it if you don’t want to pay the fines.

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