German payslip explained

In Germany you have to pay a certain amount of taxes and contributions of your salary. Your German payslip (Lohnabrechnung in German) contains information on your salary and how much taxes are deducted. But there's a lot of information and bureaucratic words on it so it can be complicated to read it. The following article translates and explains what the different numbers mean.

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What's a payslip?

A payslip — or Lohnabrechnung in German — shows you how your wages or salary is structured. You can see what deductions are taken from your gross salary (before-tax income) and what your net salary will be (take-home earnings).

Your income tax (Lohnsteuer) and if you pay the solidarity surcharge (Solidaritätszuschlag from an income over €73.000 per year), and if you are a member of a catholic or a protestant church the church tax (Kirchensteuer) go directly to the tax office.

Your social security contributions including health insurance, pension contributions, nursing care, and unemployment insurance on the other hand will be forwarded to the relevant social insurance institutions.

German Payslip Explained: How to read your Payslip in Germany?

A German payslip is divided into three different sections:

The first section includes important information such as the name and address of you and your employer, a reference number and issuing date, your tax ID and social security number, as well as your job title.

The second section gives you an overview over all the deductions.

In the last section you can find your bank account information, the total net salary paid by the employer, and your statement of earnings.

1. Personal Information

2. Salary Information

Not all terms listed below will appear on your payslip. Some might only appear on specific months, depending on bonuses, etc.


What is the difference between “Lohn” and “Gehalt”?

3.Taxes and Social security contributions

In Germany you pay social security contributions and taxes from your salary. So, there are around 40% tax deductions. We show you what and how much taxes and further contributions of your salary you are paying.


Your employer automatically deducts these taxes from your gross salary and pays them to the German tax authorities (Finanzamt).

Social Security Contributions

The social security contributions are paid 50% by the employee and 50% by the employer.

Do you earn more than 69,300 per year?

Then you can switch to private health insurance in Germany and you can benefit from a lot of advantages:

How are my deductions calculated?

In Germany there are around 40% deductions from your gross salary depending on the tax class, health insurance, whether you are paying church tax, and where you are living in Germany. So the actual deductions are very individual.

Your taxes and contributions are calculated as a percentage of your total gross salary (Bruttogehalt).

Your income tax rate normally lies between 15% and 45%. This amount then defines how high your church tax and solidarity surcharges will be.

What is left is the net salary you will receive via wire transfer to your German bank account.

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What social security contributions are you paying?

Are you registered as a member of a state-recognized religious organization? Then you’ll pay another 9% of your income tax amount (or 8% in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg) as your church tax (Kirchensteuer, or KiSt on your payslip).

If you are a member of a public health insurance, 14.6% plus an individual additional contribution which is 1,7% on average (varies from public to public health insurance provider) of your gross salary is deducted for statutory health insurance contributions (Krankenversicherung, or KV-Beitrag on your payslip). But there is a income limit (€62.100 per ear) from which you'll pay the maximum amount (around €808 incl. additional contribution).

If you are with a private health insurance you pay your health insurance contribution directly to your private health insurance provider.

18.6% is deducted for public pension contributions (Rentenversicherung, or RV-Beitrag on your payslip). For your social security (Sozialversicherung, or SV on your payslip), a fixed percentage is deducted from your gross salary too.

And then there’s also a 2.5% deduction for unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung, or AV-Beitrag on your payslip) and a 3.4% (if you 1 child; less if you have more children) and 4.0% (if you are over 23 and don't have children) deduction for long-term care insurance (Pflegeversicherung, or PV-Beitrag on your payslip).

But if you are an employee, around 50% of these contributions are covered by the employer, and 50% by you.

What are the different income tax classes?

In Germany, we have six different income tax classes:

Do I need to keep the pay slip?

Yes, you need to keep your pay slips. Those documents are essential proof of the number of years you’ve worked and the social security contributions you’ve paid — which is especially important when it comes to your retirement.

In case you are not planning on staying until retirement in Germany you will need your pay slip never the less each year at the time when you file your tax returns.

If you do not receive your pay slip, you are responsible to ask your employer to provide you with your document. They have to keep them for a total of six years—meaning you can still request missing payslips from previous employers.

Marie-Theres Rüttiger
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Marie-Theres is online editor for health and insurance topics at ottonova. She researches and writes mainly about private health insurance, (e-)health and digital innovation that make life better.

Espen Markus Mjøs
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Espen - originally from Norway - is sales agent in ottonova's English sales team. He's in contact with potential customers every day and answers Expats' questions about German health insurance.

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