Trade tax (GewSt) explained simply: Calculation, tax-free amount and assessment rate

Trade tax – Most legal forms of business are subject to taxation. Depending on the legal form, income tax, corporate income tax, sales tax, trade tax and/or capital gains tax are due by law. Under certain circumstances, it is possible for some companies to be exempted from one or more of these types of tax. When is trade tax payable? How much trade tax is payable? Who is subject to trade tax? When do you not have to pay trade tax? An overview! Back to: Taxes.

Trade tax (GewSt) – tax for commercial enterprises

As a rule, trade tax – GewSt for short – is levied on the income of every German commercial enterprise and is therefore based on the objective earning power of the respective company. Since limited liability companies, stock corporations and the like are always regarded as commercial enterprises by virtue of their legal form, trade tax is mandatory for corporations – regardless of the composition of the founding team.

Other taxes for businesses:

If you want to learn more specifically about taxes for real estate companies, you can learn more here:

Trade tax in detail – collection, levy & allowances

As an object or property tax, trade tax is by its nature one of the real taxes. Effectively, it belongs to the municipal taxes and contributes significantly to their financial system. The municipalities are entitled to levy the tax and set the tax rate valid for one year by resolution. Trade tax is payable quarterly in equal instalments on 15 February, 15 May, 15 August and 15 November. As of the 2008 tax period, these taxes are no longer deductible as a business expense, but can be offset as a lump sum against the income tax payable.

Dates for advance payment of business tax:

  • February 15
  • May 15
  • August 15
  • November 15

According to the Trade Tax Act (GewStG), natural persons and partnerships may offset their tax burden with an exemption amount – currently 24,500 euros; legal entities may reduce their tax burden by a reduced exemption amount – currently 3,900 euros.

Which companies are subject to GewSt?

Most commercial enterprises are charged with trade tax. Since all corporations are in principle considered to be commercial enterprises, this type of tax is particularly relevant for the limited liability company (GmbH) and the stock corporation (AG).

In addition, the general partnership (OHG) and the civil law partnership (GbR) are usually subject to trade tax – at least insofar as their annual income exceeds 24,500 euros. However, a GbR among freelancers remains exempt from trade tax. The same applies to the freelancers themselves: A sole proprietorship only has to pay trade tax levies if the company founder is a small trader or a registered merchant (e. Kfm.).

Overview of company law forms

You can find more information about the different legal forms under the following links. Starting with the sole proprietorship and the registered traders… to the various partnerships and corporations… to other companies such as the family foundation – all the essential aspects of formation, liability, tax burden and more explained simply and understandably! First of all, an overview of the individual legal forms of companies:

Taxes in Germany: List

Corporation tax (KSt), income tax (ESt), capital gains tax (KapESt), turnover tax (USt), trade tax (GewSt) – who pays what? In this overview of the different types of taxes / tax forms in Germany, you will find relevant taxes for you as an individual and for your business, depending on which legal form you have chosen. Also, after the tax list: How does the tax cycle work around month-end closing, year-end closing and balance sheet? A little insight for those starting their first company. What taxes are there? Simple explanations, definitions, tax optimization, an insight into taxes.