German Lesson: der Schießstand

What connection do the Oberstedten/Oberursel Shooting Range Club (Schützenverein) and our current Tax and Revenue Office in Bad Homburg have in common? There is one, and it will take us back to WWII.

First, there is this sign at the corner of the road ‘Im Rosengärtchen’ and ‘Forsthausweg’ with that particular Schießstand located at Forsthausweg 9 (towards the animal shelter). This Schießstand is only about a three-minute walk away from the main road. I must have passed this many times without knowing it.

Schießstand

The sign reminded me of the Schützenvereinfest (shooting club fest), located further into the forest towards Oberstedten, which we went to on Christ Ascension Day, a public holiday, which also happens to be Father’s Day in Germany. We go there every year.

On that day, the Schützenverein serve homemade salads, the young ones are behind the grill, occasionally they have a band playing, and the elderly ladies run the cake stand in the back of the club.

Two weeks ago, we were there again with our French family in town. It was interesting to see no indication whatsoever of its club purpose at their fest. Just beer on the table, happy people on benches, the smell of barbecued Bratwurst, and kids running around.

Schützenverein

When the club manager heard, we had brought Parisians to this little fest, he came out to share a bit more about this place.

This shooting range was used for training by soldiers stationed in Bad Homburg during WWII. They’d walk from Bad Homburg through the village of Oberstedten to get to the shooting range. Their military barracks were located what is now the Tax and Revenue Office (Finanzamt) on the Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade.

Well, major renovations at the Tax and Revenue Office have been underway since January 2016, and so it has temporarily moved to Norsk-Data-Straße 1, in Ober-Eschbach. The restoration should be completed by late 2017. Add at least another six months, since after all, this is Germany, where any form of construction generally takes longer.

Vocabulary: der Schießstand: schießen (to shoot) + der Stand (stand/range)

Be mindful of the pronunciation. In German, when you have a double vowel such as ‘ie’, you’d pronounce the second vowel ‘e’ (a long e in English) only.

If you mispronounce it, and say it with a long ‘i’ instead, you get ‘scheißen’, which is something completely different.

German Tax Information for Expats

This information was sent to us by the administration of Frankfurt International School and I found it very useful for expats living and working in Germany.

It contains a general explanation of the current tax situation. I am sure, not only newcomers to the German tax system will find this useful, but also current non-German employees such as my husband who frequently inquire about German tax terms and whether we have to act on it.

Edited e-mail version:

Within the next days and weeks, every German tax office (Finanzamt) will send letters to all registered employees in Germany.

The letter’s headline will read:

Information über die erstmals elektronisch gespeicherten Daten für den Lohnsteuerabzug (Elektronische Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmale) – see explanation below.

This October, you will not receive a 2012 tax card from your town hall as your tax data 2012 is to be transferred electronically to the employer. Therefore, the Finanzamt is sending out this letter to have you double-check the information you have given previously. This letter is just for your information, and if the listed information is correct, it does not need to be handed to the employer, nor sent back to the Finanzamt.

Please check if your name and address are stated correctly.

Further please check the table with the headline Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmale:

Steuerklasse (tax classification) should show one of the following:

“I” for singles or divorcees

“II” for singles with child/ren, raising child/ren without partner

“III” for married couples in which one earns considerably more than the spouse OR is the only one working

“IV” for married couples in which both are employed

“V” for married couples  in which one earns considerably less than the spouse

Kirchensteuermerkmal (church tax code) is only marked, if you have declared your membership to one of the official churches in Germany. If you have registered with a religious group, it will appear as follows:

“rk” catholic confession

“ev” protestant confession

“rk/ev” or “ev/rk” if you and your spouse have different confessions

Zahl der Kinderfreibeträge would show up if you have a child;

For example, 2,0 stands for 2 registered children.

If yours is marked with 0,5, this means that 0,5 child is counted towards your tax credit. The other half, for example, could be registered with a divorced partner.

Pauschbeträge für behinderte Menschen / Hinterbliebene  would only appear if you have applied for a tax credit due to a handicap/disability.

Report any changes/incorrect information to the Finanzamt. If there aren’t any, then just file it with your paperwork.

This does not apply to military spouses or consulate members.

Das Finanzamt

The Finanzamt is the German tax office.

Normally, you only contact with the Finanzamt will be your annual tax return – the Einkommenssteuererklärung.

However, if you are self-employed then you will come into close contact with it as you are involved in Umsatzsteuer (VAT) for your business and taxes such as Lohnsteuer for your employees.

The Finanzamt also collects Church Tax on behalf of the churches and if you buy a flat or a house in Germany then they will also send you a bill for Grunderwerbssteuer (land purchase tax).

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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