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Kindergeld and tax relief: How Germany's planned 2025 budget could affect you

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Kindergeld and tax relief: How Germany's planned 2025 budget could affect you
File photo shows a child at a Kita in Dresden. The German government is focusing on families in 2025 budget. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

After tough and drawn-out negotiations, German cabinet ministers finally passed a draft of the budget for 2025 on Wednesday. Here's how it could affect you.

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"It's finally done." 

That was the message of Chancellor Olaf Scholz as he announced in a TikTok video that weeks of agonising budget negotiations had come to an end. 

Speaking to reporters at the start of July, the Social Democrat had looked buoyant, even after pulling an all-nighter with his coalition colleagues to finalise the 2025 budget.

Luckily it resulted in a solid outcome, with cabinet ministers finally approving the bill on Wednesday afternoon. 

For now, at least, the agreements puts to bed a topic that has been haunting the government for several weeks. 

In a press conference held alongside Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Scholz said: "We have not always made it easy for ourselves. We are fighting hard for the cause and we are looking for compromises.

"Sometimes half the night. Sometimes all night."

He said that ministers pushed through on negotiations in order to "present a draft budget today punctually at the end of this week of meetings".

By doing so, the coalition has avoided a major breakdown that may have toppled the government. 

So what does this initial agreement mean and what's actually in it? Many of the details are still to be finalised, but here's a look at key points so far with some more details below:

READ ALSO: German coalition strikes breakthrough budget deal after crisis

The debt brake stays

The infamous debt-brake (Schuldenbremse) - a self-imposed cap on annual borrowing - will be adhered to. A decision that shows Finance Minister Lindner got his way.

The government plans to take on €44 billion in new debt next year, in compliance with debt brake limits, which would bring Germany's total budget volume to about €480 billion. The debt brake means there are likely tough decisions and cuts in the coming years. 

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The debt brake was a key sticking point in the talks. Germany suspended the mechanism for several years during the Covid-19 pandemic and the inflation shock which followed Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The centre-left Social Democrats in particular - who are the largest party in the coalition - pushed for the debt brake to be suspended in order to push for more investment into society and fewer cuts, but Lindner was keen to see it reinstated.

Clashes over the debt brake intensified after the constitutional court threw Germany's spending plans into disarray last November in a ruling over spending. 

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck arrive to deliver a press conference on July 5, 2024 in Berlin, after the three parties in Germany's ruling coalition struck an agreement on the 2025 budget.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck arrive to deliver a press conference on July 5, 2024 in Berlin, after the three parties in Germany's ruling coalition struck an agreement on the 2025 budget. Photo by RALF HIRSCHBERGER/AFP

Focus on children and families

A family package is a big part of the draft budget. 

Kindergeld - Germany's child benefit - is to be increased by five euros next year, as is the emergency child allowance for families who need it, according to German media reports. 

The payments will be phased out with the introduction of basic child security or Kindergrundsicherung, and parents in Germany will then receive €255 per month per child. 

The Kinderfreibetrag - or tax-deductible sum for children - is also to rise by €228 to €9,540 in 2025 and will go up a further €60 the following year.

The government said the law would continue to ensure that child support keeps increasing in future. 

A further €2 billion will be invested from 2025 to 2026 to improve the quality of childcare facilities. 

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Tax relief and pensions

People in Germany are to receive around €23 billion in tax relief in 2025 and 2026, in a bid to make sure inflation doesn't eat up wage increases. 

As part of a so-called 'growth initiative' there are to be further tax improvements for companies and the self-employed as well as employees. A tax exemption on overtime hours is one idea being discussed. 

It's also planned that skilled workers coming from abroad will receive tax relief to make Germany a more attractive option. 

READ ALSO: 8 unlikely tax breaks in Germany that international residents need to know

More support for private investments and support for small firms is also planned in a bid to encourage more people to do business in Germany. 

Meanwhile, the coalition pledged to agree on a "clear timetable" for the planned pension reform. 

Boost for the economy

Under the plans, the government is vowing to invest more in the economy in a bid to modernise the country. Investment spending is set to reach a new record level of €57 billion, with money to be set aside for various things including railways, roads, local transport and digital infrastructure.

The initiative agreed during the budget consultations is expected to increase economic growth by 0.5 percentage points in the coming year.

ICE trains

An ICE train at Berlin's main train station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P. Albert

Labour market bonus 

People receiving long-term unemployment benefits (Bürgergeld) are to receive additional bonus when they enter the labour market.

The coalition has summarised this as a "bonus model" to combat unemployment.

In order to make Germany more attractive as a business location, foreign skilled workers are to receive a tax rebate for the first three years. 

Billions for the Bundeswehr and social housing 

In terms of security policy, the traffic light coalition wants to fulfil NATO's two percent target of investment every year. According to Scholz, the defence budget should reach €80 billion in 2028. The police, technical relief organisation and civil protection are also to be strengthened.

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In addition, over €20 billion is to be invested into social housing across Germany by 2028.

The planned funding for climate and transformation has been secured for 2024 and 2025.

"This budget contains record investments," said Scholz.

"In times characterised by unrest due to Russia's barbaric war on Ukraine, unrest due to the climate crisis and unrest due to irregular migration," said Scholz.

Less bureaucracy 

Another key point of the draft budget is reducing paperwork. 

"Companies and citizens alike are suffering from ever more bureaucracy, with official procedures taking far too long," the coalition partners wrote in the draft budget. They are pledging to introduce measures to ensure things move more quickly in Germany in future. 

What happens now?

The next step following this initial agreement is for the party leaders to inform their parliamentary groups. This will be followed by budget discussions in the respective departments - and this could lead to yet more heated debates and adjustments.

According to the current schedule, the government wants to approve the draft budget in the cabinet on July 17th. It will then be discussed in the Bundestag after the summer break and, if all goes to plan,  adopted at the end of November.

With reporting by AFP 

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