There are four variants of the withholding tax currently in effect in the German taxation regime. These include withholding tax on construction, withholding tax on income of non-residents, final withholding tax, and withholding tax on income from capital. This article solely concerns itself with the withholding tax on construction work.
In addition, every effort has been made to communicate the information as accurately as possible, and all pertinent subclauses of tax laws are referenced where applicable. However, please make sure to read the date of publication of this blog post in order to ascertain when it is outdated.
What is the tax payable on?
The tax is payable on income from the provision of construction services.
Who is liable to be taxed?
When a service provider performs construction services in Germany for a business within the meaning of section 2 of the VAT Act or for any legal entity under public law, the service recipient is required to withhold tax from the consideration paid for such services. Taxation at source secures the state’s tax claim.
Businesses within the meaning of the VAT Act include not only those businesses that submit provisional VAT returns but also small businesses, farmers who pay flat-rate taxes, and VAT-exempt businesses. This also includes persons who earn proceeds from renting or leasing. The construction services must be performed for the business itself. Service recipients who let dwellings are not required to withhold taxes in connection with construction services for these dwellings if the recipient lets no more than two dwellings. The tax is withheld on behalf of the service provider.
The tax does not have to be withheld in cases when the service provider furnishes the service recipient with an exemption certificate from the tax office or when the consideration paid for the construction services is not expected to exceed specific exemption thresholds in the current year. The tax office issues an exemption certification upon request as long as this is not detrimental to the state’s tax claim.
The withholding tax is credited to the following taxes payable by the service provider:
- wages tax
- income and corporation tax prepayments
- income and corporation tax
- tax withheld by the service provider in connection with construction services
How much is the tax?
The withholding tax on construction work amounts to 15% of the consideration paid including VAT.
What is the legal basis?
Like wages tax, the withholding tax for construction work is a special method for collecting income tax and is based on sections 48 to 48d of the Income Tax Act.
Who collects the tax?
The withholding tax for construction work is collected by the Länder (the administering states of Germany) and must be remitted to the tax office competent for the service provider. Specifically designated tax authorities act as a central point of contact for foreign service providers.
How did the tax develop?
The withholding tax for construction work was introduced by the Act to Curb Illegal Activity in the Construction Sector of 30 August 2001 and took effect for considerations paid from 31 December 2001 onwards.