An important change in broadcasting fees in Germany: How to avoid fines (New rule 2022)

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Due to the so-called default surcharge, some people are now threatened with higher costs for the broadcasting fee – if they do not pay on time.

Broadcasting fee in Germany: The radio contribution always causes discussions and annoyance. Almost every household in Germany has to pay 18.36 euros a month for it. A new change could now cause even higher costs. Don’t miss this important deadline.

Broadcasting fee in Germany is hated by everyone!

Almost every household in Germany has to pay the broadcasting license fee – and hardly any other fee is so controversial. In the summer of 2021, the premium rose from EUR 17.50 to EUR 18.36 per month. ARDZDF, and Deutschlandradio took in more than eight billion euros in 2020. In the past, courts have repeatedly dealt with broadcasting fees. An important change could now even cause additional costs.

Broadcasting fee in Germany – the most important things to remember

Registration

Register your apartment if neither you nor a roommate has yet paid the license fee. That costs 18.36 euros per month, even if you don’t have a radio or television.

Forms

Registration must be made with the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Contribution Service, in 50656 Cologne. The easiest way to do this is online at www.rundfunkbeitrag.de. There you will also find forms for a fee exemption or fee reduction. Also, note the evidence that you must submit when applying for an exemption or reduction.

Shared apartment

Only one contribution is due for shared flats. Clarify who contributes – the colloquial GEZ – for the shared apartment. This person logs in. You can then split the cost internally.

Second home

Apartment owners who have a main and a secondary residence can be exempted from the broadcasting fee for their second residence. In the case of married couples with a second home, the exemption has not always worked. Since November 2019 this has been possible in a simplified way. Married couples and registered civil partnerships can be exempted from the broadcasting fee for their secondary residence via the website www.rundfunkbeitrag.de.

What’s new in 2022? Only one invoice per calendar year!

Bill payer

Anyone who pays the broadcasting fee on account must be prepared for an important change. So far, many contributors have paid the broadcasting fee on account, namely quarterly in the middle of a quarter of 55.08 euros for three months. From the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio contribution service, they have received a post from the contribution service once a quarter: a payment request that reminds them to pay the sum.

From now on, however, the contribution service will only send a single request for payment for the entire calendar year. It then contains the four payment dates (February 15, May 15, August 15, November 15). The conversion was made to make the operation of the contribution service “even more efficient and cost-effective”. Some contributors have already received the one-off payment request for 2022. Everyone else should be informed about the new procedure bit by bit.

8 euros late payment surcharge for late payments

Without the reminder by postal bill, the risk of forgetting to pay the premium increases for bill payers. If this happens for the first time, there are no further negative consequences. Because the contribution service then sends a payment reminder (dunning) again. If this happens again at some point, apartment owners will immediately receive a so-called assessment notice without a reminder, which in addition to the 55.08 also contains a late payment surcharge of 8 euros.

Payment on time

The license fee must be paid within four weeks of the due date (middle of a quarter, first due: February 15). The sum of 55.08 euros for the first quarter must therefore be transferred by March 15th.

Alternative direct debit

Anyone who does not want to expose themselves to the punctuality risk can authorize the contribution service to collect the broadcasting contribution by direct debit from their bank account. This can be done online, for example, via the website of the contribution service (“ change to the contribution account ”). If there are unauthorized debits when collecting by direct debit, bank customers can reverse them within eight weeks. This can easily be done, for example, via online banking.


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Registration, contribution amount, control, penalties

How high is the license fee and who collects it?

The full broadcasting fee – often referred to colloquially as the GEZ fee – has been €18.36 per month since July 20, 2021. However, the contribution is not due monthly, but only once per quarter (i.e. 55.08 euros for three months).

It is collected by the “ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Contribution Service”. This is what the former fee collection center (GEZ) has been called since 2013. Anyone who, for example, wants to register or deregister an apartment for the broadcasting fee or to apply for an exemption or reduction must contact the contribution service.

Address:
ARD ZDF Germany radio contribution service
50656 Cologne.

Website:
www.rundfunkbeitrag.de .

Can I also pay the fee in cash?

That has not yet been finally decided. According to the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia ( case no. 2 A 1351/16 ) and the Hessian Administrative Court ( case no. 10 A 2929/16 ), apartment owners are not entitled to cash payment. The legal dispute from Hesse then went to the Federal Administrative Court. In March 2019, the federal judges turned to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and submitted three legal questions relating to European law. 

In the opinion of the Federal Administrative Court, these are significant for the decision as to whether broadcasters may prohibit payment of the license fee in cash ( case no. 6 C 6/18). Only when the ECJ has answered the three questions can the Federal Administrative Court make its decision on the cash payment issue.

How long do I have to register my apartment?

You have one month after moving into your new place to register with the contribution service. If you miss the deadline, you risk a fine of at least 5 euros and a maximum of 1,000 euros. In the case of late registration after a move, however, a small fine can be expected at most, according to the press office of the contribution service. Anyone who does not pay their contribution debts within four weeks must pay the outstanding contribution and expect a late payment surcharge of 8 euros.

What happens to naysayers who don’t pay a fee?

Anyone who has looked black up until now should definitely register their apartment with the contribution service. By comparing it with the data from the residents’ registration office, the contribution service can easily find out where someone lives and does not pay. If you don’t register and get caught in a few years, in the worst case you have to pay for the past few years. In addition, he is threatened with a fine, which can be between 5 and 1,000 euros, depending on the case ( section 12 paragraph 2 of the State Broadcasting Contribution Agreement in conjunction with section 17 paragraph 1 sentence 1 of the Administrative Offenses Act ).

How does the contribution service find out who lives in the apartment?

Via a data exchange with the registration authorities of the municipalities. The presumption applies: Anyone who is registered at an address also lives there and has to pay the license fee ( paragraph 2 paragraph 2 of the Interstate Broadcasting Fee Agreement ). If the occupant of a property cannot be identified, the state broadcasting corporation may inquire with the owner or the manager of a homeowners’ association. Landlords and administrators must provide information on request. However, you are not obliged to tell us who lives at the rented address. The following applies to residents of rental apartments: The persons named in the rental agreement are the apartment owners and are obliged to pay.

What happens if I don’t pay on time?

If you pay the license fee by invoice, you have to pay three monthly fees of 18.36 euros in the middle of the respective quarter (three-month period). If you do not transfer the contribution within four weeks of its due date, you will first receive a payment reminder. If you still don’t make the transfer, the contribution service will send you a notice of assessment asking you to pay the three-month amount (55.08 euros) plus a late payment surcharge of 8 euros.

Important: The contribution service only ever sends this reminder once. If you still owe a payment months or years later, you will immediately receive a notice of assessment including a late payment surcharge – without warning!

The assessment notice is an administrative act against which you can appeal within one month if you believe that you are not obliged to pay. If you do not file an objection and continue not to pay, the decision becomes final and the contribution service can initiate enforcement of the payment.

Tip: If you give the contribution service a direct debit authorization (direct debit) , you no longer have to think about paying on time.

Broadcasting fee GEZ – who has to pay?

Is the license fee due per person or per household?

per household. For German citizens over the age of 18, the following applies: “one apartment – ​​one contribution”. If several people live together, only one person has to pay the license fee (formerly GEZ). Formally, everyone is obliged to pay the full amount. Nevertheless, the fee is only due once per apartment. In practice, one of the residents registers the apartment with the contribution service and pays the 18.36 euros. The registration then also applies to the others who may take on a share. The household members regulate this among themselves.

If a member of a flat-sharing community is exempt from paying contributions, for example because they receive student loans or unemployment benefit 2, the flatmates do not benefit from this. This means: If two people are registered at an address and one resident is exempt, the other must pay the full license fee for the apartment. Something else applies to spouses and registered life partners. If a partner is exempt from the license fee or only pays a reduced fee, this privilege also extends to the partner ( section 4 paragraph 3 of the Interstate Broadcasting Contribution Agreement ).

What counts as an apartment?

The Interstate Broadcasting Agreement defines an apartment as a structurally self-contained room unit that is suitable for living or sleeping or is used for this purpose and can be accessed through a separate entrance from the stairwell, an anteroom or from outside. It doesn’t matter how many rooms the apartment has. If an adult child lives in a granny flat with its own kitchen and bathroom in the parents’ house, it must therefore pay its own license fee.

What applies in a flat-sharing community if the registered resident does not pay?

Then the contribution service can subsequently request the open items from the other residents. Of course, the authority can only demand additional payments from people who are exempt from the obligation to pay contributions.

What applies in student dormitories?

There, every resident of a room has to pay the monthly broadcasting fee himself. Although a private shared apartment only owes the monthly fee once, the Hamburg Administrative Court does not see any unlawful unequal treatment in this ( case no. 3 K 159/14 ).

Does the broadcasting fee also apply to nursing home residents?

No, not at the moment. The rooms in the home are considered shared accommodation if the residents have to be “sustainably cared for” due to health restrictions. However, you must submit an application and be exempted from the fee. Fit seniors in a retirement home or students in a dormitory, on the other hand, have to pay for their room or apartment.

Do owners of a vacant apartment have to pay?

No. If there is no rental contract for the apartment and no one is registered there, including the owner, no contribution is due for the apartment. It doesn’t matter whether the apartment is furnished or not.

Do people who don’t own a radio, television or computer also have to pay?

Yes, the broadcasting fee, or colloquially GEZ, is device-independent. It doesn’t matter whether there is a radio or television in the house and you use it.

Do I also have to pay if I go abroad for a longer period of time?

Anyone who remains registered in Germany during a longer stay abroad or is a tenant in an ongoing tenancy will not be able to avoid the broadcasting fee. Here, too, the contribution service represents a strict legal opinion. Actually, the relevant paragraph 2 paragraph 2 of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement only contains a legal assumption that the tenant who is registered at a place of residence or named in a rental agreement actually lives there.

However, legal presumptions can be refuted. In addition, the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia indicated in a decision in 2016 that a “proven longer stay abroad” could be a reason for an exemption under Section 4 Paragraph 6 of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (“special case of hardship”) ( Az. 2 A 1005/15 ; marginal number there 65). On request, the test.de contribution service was unable to name an example in which a person who was registered in Germany but lived abroad was able to refute the legal presumption or in which a case of hardship was assumed.

It is particularly bitter for those affected if they have to pay but cannot even use the media libraries of the public broadcasters from abroad because of the so-called geoblocking.

When is an exemption from contributions possible?

Who can be exempted from the broadcasting fee (GEZ)?

People who receive one of the following social benefits can do this:

  • student loans,
  • unemployment benefit II,
  • Social care,
  • basic security in old age,
  • help for the blind .

Anyone who receives one of these state benefits can apply for exemption from the license fee . The exemption applies as long as the social benefit is paid according to the decision of the authority.

Important: Anyone who lives with a person on a low income or with a disability remains obliged to pay the license fee. Unless he or she

  • is married to the person concerned or
  • is their child and younger than 25 or
  • lives in community of need with her.

Do I have to be on social security benefits to be eligible for an exemption?

No. In cases of hardship, low-income people can be exempted from the broadcasting fee even if they do not receive any of the social benefits mentioned above. The Federal Administrative Court recently regarded a student in her second degree as a case of hardship within the meaning of the State Treaty on Broadcasting Contributions and exempted her from the obligation to pay contributions.

The woman was not entitled to Bafög, but according to the court she was in need of something similar to recipients of social assistance. After deducting the rental costs, the student had 337 euros at her disposal for her living expenses. Her request for exemption was rejected by the broadcaster.

She then failed with her lawsuit before the administrative court in Ansbach and the administrative court in Munich. She was only right before the Federal Administrative Court ( case no. BVerwaG 6 C 10.18 ). The case shows how difficult it is to prove a case of hardship and then get through it.

What rules apply to severely disabled people?

If the disabled do not receive any of the social benefits mentioned, they pay a reduced contribution of EUR 5.83 per month, provided they have a severely disabled ID card with the RF code.

Are there disabled people who are completely exempt from paying the fee?

Yes, deaf-blind people. In addition, all disabled people who receive one of the social benefits listed above.

What applies to second homes and holiday homes?

What’s new for second home owners since November 2019?

At the end of October 2019, politicians decided that the exemption from the second contribution for married couples and registered civil partnerships with a second home should be made easier. Since November 2019, married people can also obtain the exemption if the secondary residence is registered in a different name than the main residence.

This is how the exemption works in the case of a second home

Married couples and registered partnerships with a second home can be exempted from the broadcasting fee for their second home via the website www.rundfunkbeitrag.de or download the application and fill it out and send it to the contribution service.

Registration certificate

The application must be accompanied by a so-called “extended registration certificate” from the residents’ registration office, which shows the address of the main and secondary residence and the respective move-in date.

Tax assessment and marriage certificate

Instead of the registration certificate, couples can also submit a copy of the second home tax assessment. Married couples with different last names should also attach a copy of their marriage certificate.

Timing

It is advisable to submit the request for exemption quickly. If the application for exemption is made within three months of moving into the secondary residence, the exemption applies from the moment you move in. If the second home owner submits the application later, the exemption only applies from the month in which the application is submitted.

What applies to unmarried couples with a second home?

For unmarried couples with a second home, the old, strict exemption rules have remained. Means: If the apartments are registered under different names, the license fee is due twice. Couples in which only one partner uses the secondary residence for work, for example, can get rid of the second contribution if the user of the secondary residence registers the main residence in his or her name or “registers” and then applies to the contribution service for exemption for the secondary residence used alone.

Do children who use their parents’ second home have to pay?

Yes. Nothing has changed here. If the parent who owns the second home is exempt from the second contribution, this exemption does not extend to adult children. Example: A father has two apartments. His main residence in Dortmund and a secondary residence in Berlin. Since his adult daughter is studying in Berlin, she lives in the secondary apartment in Berlin as her main apartment. The father is exempt from the broadcasting fee for the second home in Berlin. However, the exemption does not change the daughter’s obligation to contribute.

Do allotment gardeners have to pay for their gazebo?

You don’t have to pay if you don’t live there. Living in allotment gardens is usually not allowed anyway. However, if they occasionally spend the night in their arbor, this does not trigger any obligation to pay a contribution.

Expaturm
Expaturmhttps://www.expaturm.com/
Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany

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