02 December 2012

Ridiculous German Taxes, Highlighted

You know what's lame?  The German tax system.

Here's how it works.  There are tax "classes" that you fall into based on how much you earn, and taxes across that class are the same regardless of whether you're on the high or low end of said class.  I don't know how these classes were first established, but it was probably back in 1870 when Otto von Bismark took a lunch break from colonizing Africa, wrote some numbers in the dirt, threw some corn on them, and then let his chickens peck out the specifics.  And voila.  The German tax system was born.

This is the story of how the German tax class system came back around to chicken peck me in the ass.

Once upon a time there was a person, and that person was me.  This me-person got a job and was superbly excited about earning 400 euros a month, for that is how much students in Germany can earned without being taxed.  Technically, this me-person was actually earning 409 euros a month because me-person already had a B.A., which meant me-person earned more than students without one.  Upon finding this out, me-person asked me-person's boss if she would be taxed for those extra 9 euros. Me-person's boss assured her that said 9 euros were still in the tax "grey zone," also known as the hazy borderland between piles of chicken shit where tax people have better things to do than come after  you.  What a relief.  What a disappointment, then, when me-person got her first paycheck only to discover that 21 euros were missing.

What happened was this: chicken shit tax people decided they were feeling particularly productive.  My 409 euro paycheck put me 9 euros into a higher tax class, which meant I got 21 euros in tax taken out.  Let's do this again:

9 euros (11.6 dollars) over limit = 21 euros (27.3 dollars) tax.

Let's break it down further:

Having a degree = Earning more money per hour, less money after taxes.

Not having a degree= Earning less money per hour, but not getting taxed.

Which boils down to: if I didn't have a degree, I would have earned less money per hour but had a higher paycheck at the end of the month.  And if that's not absolutely fucked, I don't know what is.

Apparently, this was actually a really big deal in Germany at one point.  The conservative party thought this concept was bullshit, and pushed for a reform.  The super liberal party flipped shit, and the German people, who are apparently fond of their chickens, flipped shit as well.  This resulted in the conservative party getting absolutely crucified and the topic is more or less taboo.

I know it's not the end of the world.  Starting in January, the chickens have re-pecked the upper limit students can earn to 450 euros a month, which means that I only have to deal with this crap for another month before I start getting my full paycheck.  And my student status means that I will get back the money that was taken out in taxes, as long as I'm willing to jump through flaming German tax hoops for it and fill out a mountain of paperwork.  On principle, however, it is irritating and disappointing.  And even though I made the story up, I really hate Otto von Bismark right now.  If he were alive, I would turn his chickens into sandwiches.


1 comment:

bevchen said...

You just reminded me... I need to do my taxes. For 2010!!

Hahaha, chickens!