Determination of electronic income tax deduction items (ELStAM), change of tax class for spouses/civil partners (not permanently separated)

Employees are assigned tax classes for the purpose of income tax deduction. Spouses or partners who live in Germany, are not permanently separated and both earn an income can choose tax class combinations III/V or the so-called factor procedure (IV/IV with factor) instead of tax class combination IV/IV. The income tax withheld during the calendar year does not determine the total amount of the applicable (annual) income tax. The total (annual) income tax is also not influenced by the tax class choice of spouses or civil partners.

The standard tax class combination IV/IV is generally more favorable if both spouses or civil partners roughly earn the same income. The tax class combination III/V is recommended if one spouse or partner earns approximately 60 percent or more of the joint income and is classified in tax class III.

If you apply for tax class combinations III/V or IV/IV with a factor, you will be required to file an income tax return.

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Service details

Detailed information

You can find more information on income tax classes as well as the choice of tax class and the factor procedure for married couples or civil partners in the information booklet "Lohnsteuer - Ein kleiner Ratgeber" (Income tax – a concise guide) and in the "Merkblatt zur Steuerklassenwahl bei Ehegatten oder Lebenspartnern, die beide Arbeitnehmer sind" (Leaflet on the choice of tax class for married couples or civil partners who are both employees).

  • Lohnsteuer
    Sächsisches Staatsministerium der Finanzen

Prerequisite

  • Existing marriage or civil partnership

Procedure

  • Submit the application and the other required documents in person or in writing to the tax office. The application must always be submitted by both of you (by mutual agreement). The application of only one spouse/civil partner is sufficient if you want to change from tax class III or V to tax class IV (for both).
  • If you submit the application in person, it will usually be processed immediately.
  • Your employer will be notified of the amended ELStAM and their validity via the electronic retrieval procedure. If you wish to receive a printout of your ELStAM, please indicate this on the application form. You can also check your own ELStAM after registering free of charge at "ELSTER: Ihr Online-Finanzamt" (www.elster.de).

Required documents

  • Proof of identity (ID card or passport), if applying in person
  • As a rule, an informal application is sufficient. In addition to personal data (name and address), please also state your respective tax ID and tax number. However, you can also use the form "Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten/Lebenspartnern" (application for change of tax class for spouses/ civil partners) - this is particularly advisable if you apply for the tax class combination IV/IV with factor (the details requested in the form are required for determining the factor).
  • If you want to apply for tax class III due to a spouse living abroad (EU/EEA member states): completed forms “Anträge zu den elektronischen Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmalen – ELStAM” (applications for the electronic income tax deduction items - ELStAM" and, if applicable, “Anlage Grenzpendler EU/EWR” (attachment for cross-border commuters within the EU/EEA).

Deadlines

Tax class change application: by November 30 of the year for which the tax class is to apply

Legal basis

  • § 2 Abs. 8 Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG) – eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft
  • § 38b Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG) – Lohnsteuerklassen
  • § 39 Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG) – Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmale
  • § 39f Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG) – Faktorverfahren anstelle Steuerklassenkombination III / V

Release note

Saxon State Ministry of Finance. 14.01.2020