If you come to Göttingen on a self-financed research stay, you are typically not required to pay taxes or duties in Germany. However, you may have to pay taxes if you accept honorariums or become gainfully employed. The institution offering an honorarium or employment contract can help provide the necessary clarification.

If you are receiving a scholarship during your stay in Germany, the scholarship instalments are exempt from tax. The prerequisites for tax exemption of scholarships in Germany are that they are (per § 3 Nr. 44 EStG):

  • Awarded from public funds or by a public or non-profit organisation (as recognized under German law)
  • For the promotion of research or scientific or artistic education or further training
  • The amount of the grant must not exceed the amount required for the research task or to cover living and educational expenses.
  • Awarded in accordance with the guidelines of the donor
  • No reciprocal obligation or employment of the recipient

Ask your scholarship provider if you are unsure whether your scholarship is tax-exempt. Also find out whether your scholarship, which is paid in Germany, is subject to taxation in your home country and whether double-taxation agreements apply.

If you have an employment contract in Germany and stay longer than 6 months, then you will have to pay taxes in Germany. Your employer will deduct taxes and social security contributions from your gross salary. When calculating the tax rate, your entire income is taken into account, including any additional income you earned in your home country or any other country.

If you stay in Germany for less than 6 months, you will pay taxes in your home country if:

  • you work for a foreign employer,
  • and, your home country has the right of taxation.

If one of the above conditions is not met, you will be required to pay taxes in Germany on your income earned in Germany.

Double taxation agreements and other treaties

Germany has agreements with some countries that provide for simplified taxation for internationally mobile researchers. In particular, researchers who stay in Germany for no longer than two years and work at a public research institution benefit from such agreements. Information on this can be found here.

Double taxation agreements ensure that the income of internationally mobile researchers is not taxed twice (in their home country and again in Germany). Please make sure you are aware of the tax laws of your home country as early as possible so that you do not pay unnecessary taxes. The German Federal Ministry of Finance provides some relevant information here.

In Germany, you must pay tax on your income. For people who are employed, income tax is automatically deducted from their gross salary. Self-employed people and freelancers must pay tax on their income themselves. How much income tax you have to pay depends on the amount of your income. The tax rate is between 14 and 45 percent. The amount of income tax you pay also depends on your marital status, number of children, other allowances and religious affiliation (church tax).

Income tax return

At the end of a calendar year, you can submit an income tax return to the tax office in your place of residence. In some cases, the income tax return is compulsory, when, for instance, you have worked for several employers. The tax office calculates your taxable income (total income minus special expenses, extraordinary burdens and allowances) and determines the income tax to be paid. Any excess taxes paid will be refunded to you by the tax office. You can also obtain the necessary forms from the Göttingen tax office (Finanzamt). You can also submit your income tax return electronically using the "Elster form". The tax return should be submitted to the tax office by the end of May of the following year.

Tip: Tax returns can be complex, especially if you earn different types of income, maintain several residences or if double taxation agreements are involved. In order to avoid mistakes when filing your tax return, we recommend that you seek assistance of a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein) for your first tax return.

If you are a member of the Catholic, Lutheran or the Reformed Churches, you pay church tax in Germany. Church tax is deducted from your gross salary and amounts to 9 % of the income tax paid.


The International Office
Welcome Centre

Von-Siebold-Straße 4
37075 Göttingen


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