Corporate income tax

How Does Corporation Tax Work

Corporate taxation

Demystifying Finances: Understanding "How Does Corporation Tax Work" in Business Operations

Germany boasts a robust framework for corporate taxation, extending to all types of corporations, such as the limited liability company (GmbH), stock corporation (AG), and German permanent establishments of foreign corporations. The corporate income tax structure in Germany typically encompasses three key components:

  • Corporate income tax
  • Solidarity surcharge
  • Trade tax

The absence of a uniform nationwide tax rate for corporate income taxation is attributed to the variable trade tax rates set at the local level. Nevertheless, the corporate income tax rate and the solidarity surcharge are standardized nationwide. The corporate tax liability may be as modest as 22.8 percent in select regions. On average, the corporate tax rate in Germany stands at 29.8 percent. Germany Trade & Invest is available to assist you in identifying appealing locations within Germany. For more comprehensive information regarding the taxation of branch offices as foreign corporations' permanent establishments in Germany, please consult the relevant section of this publication.

Corporate Income Tax

The Corporate income tax (Körperschaftsteuer) is uniformly imposed nationwide at a fixed rate of 15 percent on the taxable corporate income. Taxable income, representing the annual business profits, is the foundation for calculating the corporate income tax. According to German commercial regulations, corporate companies compute and document their annual profits in the yearly financial statement, which, in turn, acts as the basis for determining taxable income. Nevertheless, German tax law offers various accounting alternatives and income adjustment provisions, resulting in taxable income often diverging from the annual profit ascertained in the commercial law financial statement.

Corporate income tax
Corporate income tax

Solidarity Surcharge

The solidarity surcharge (Solidaritätszuschlag) is a constant and uniform element in the corporate taxation framework. It is applied on top of the corporate income tax and is calculated at 5.5 percent of the corporate income tax rate (not 5.5 percent of income). Combined, the corporate income tax and the solidarity surcharge result in a cumulative taxable rate of 15.8 percent.

Trade Tax

While trade tax (Gewerbesteuer) is governed by federal law, it operates as a municipal tax. The criteria for calculating taxable income, which includes business profits alongside specific statutory additions and deductions, remain consistent across Germany. Furthermore, all businesses are subject to the same trade tax rate within a given municipality. However, the specific trade tax rate for each municipality is individually determined. Consequently, the particular trade tax rate for an exact location is crucial in determining the overall corporate tax burden. The minimum trade tax rate must be at least seven percent, and while there's no statutory upper limit for the trade tax rate, the average trade tax rate in Germany was slightly over 14 percent in 2021. Typically, trade tax rates are higher in urban areas than in rural ones. Notably, the solidarity surcharge is not applied to the trade tax.

Corporate taxation
Corporate taxation

Calculating Trade Tax

The individual trade tax amount depends on two factors:

  • Each municipality establishes the municipal multiplier (Hebesatz).
  • The standard tax base rate of 3.5 percent is applicable nationwide.

To calculate the trade tax, the taxable income is first multiplied by the tax base rate, generating what is referred to as the tax base amount. This tax base amount is subsequently multiplied by the municipality's specific multiplier, which is determined independently by each municipality. This multiplier hovers slightly above 400 percent on average but cannot drop below 200 percent. There is no upper limit set for the municipal multiplier.

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