German IPT: An Overview

Russell Brown
August 12, 2021

Insurance Premium Tax in Germany is complex. From IPT rates to law changes, this quick guide will help you navigate the challenges of IPT in Germany. For an overview about IPT in general, read our Insurance Premium Tax guide.

Last update: 24.01.2023

What is the filing frequency for IPT declarations in Germany?

Based on IPT declarations made for the year 2022:

Below €1,000.00 – annually

Between €1,000.00 and €6,000.00 – quarterly

Above €6,000.00 – monthly

What is the filing frequency for Fire Brigade Charge declarations in Germany?

Based on FBC declarations made for the year 2022:

Below €400 – annually

Between €400 and €2,400.00 – Quarterly

Above €2,400.00 – monthly

 

Last update: 07.12.2022

What is the IPT rate in Germany?

Different IPT rates are applicable in Germany, depending on the type of insured risk provided to the policyholder. Sovos’ IPT Managed Services ensures your company complies with the latest Insurance Premium Tax requirements in Germany.

Are life and sickness policies exempt from German IPT?

Yes. Life and sickness policies are exempt from German IPT.

What is the basis of a German IPT calculation?

German IPT is a charge to the policyholder in addition to the premium. The taxable premium is the total amount paid by the policyholder to obtain the cover. The Insurance Tax Act specifically includes charges and other ancillary costs within the scope of the definition.

What are the IPT challenges in Germany?

The main challenges in Germany regarding IPT relate to two areas:

  • For policies classified under regulatory insurance class 8 Fire and natural forces: it’s important insurers and policyholders understand the risks covered and apply the correct IPT rates and Fire Protection Tax (FPT) rates to the premium, so they can be settled with the authorities. There are different IPT and FPT rates depending upon the type of insured risk. As FPT is an insurer-borne parafiscal charge deducted from the premium paid by the policyholder to them, it’s important to use the correct tax rates.
  • The changes to the Insurance Tax Act in 2020 has led to uncertainty over how to tax some global policies where there is a German policyholder. This has increased the possibility of double taxation taking place, which we will explain in more detail.

Updates on German IPT

Insurance Tax Act reforms in Germany, effective from 10 December 2020, have continued to cause some uncertainty in the insurance market.

The main area of concern relates to the location of risk for Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) purposes. The reform can impact a policy taken out with either an EEA or non-EEA insurer where the policyholder is established in Germany, i.e., a German enterprise, permanent establishment, or corresponding institution, or an individual habitually resident in Germany, where the policy covers non-EEA risks.

These changes affect all classes of business and are irrespective of the physical location of any insured risk.

Double taxation in Germany with policies written by EEA insurers

If a policy for the German policyholder includes non-EEA countries, then German IPT is due on the premium allocated to Germany and to premiums allocated to non-EEA countries. This could be in addition to any applicable premium taxes due in non-EEA countries.

Therefore, double taxation is a possibility. However, if the policy includes other EEA countries, then German IPT cannot be charged on premiums allocated in these EEA countries.

Double taxation in Germany with policies written by non-EEA insurers

If a policy for the German policyholder includes both other EEA and non-EEA countries, then German IPT is due on the premium allocated to Germany and to 100% of the premiums allocated to all the other countries. This could be in addition to any applicable premium taxes due in all these countries. Therefore, again, double taxation is a possibility.

What is a ‘permanent establishment’ or ‘corresponding institution’ for German IPT purposes?

The law reforms did not specifically clarify at the time what a ‘permanent establishment’ or ‘corresponding institution’ was that would bring a non-EEA risk within the scope of German IPT. The primary concern related to global policies such as liability and miscellaneous financial loss risks that are not considered ‘special risks’ (i.e., don’t relate to fixed property, vehicles and travel). These types of global programmes for German policyholders, in particular financial institutions, are common in the insurance market.

4 March 2021

Guidance from the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) published confirmed that a non-EEA branch of a German policyholder would be deemed to constitute a permanent establishment. But it was silent on whether the same applied to a non-EEA subsidiary. Also included in this guidance were several scenarios to aid insurers and brokers with taxing policies correctly, but unfortunately there wasn’t one for this subsidiary scenario.

20 July 2021

The BMF issued a new version of their general leaflet on insurance tax and fire protection tax for EU/EEA insurers. This included a flowchart showing the changes in taxability of policies as a result of IPT law reforms, but the non-EEA subsidiary question was not specifically answered here.

28 April 2021

The German Insurance Association (GDV) issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document to help insurers understand the reforms in several areas, including answering some questions around the treatment of non-EEA subsidiaries.

Whilst the answers appeared to provide hope that these subsidiaries did not constitute a permanent establishment, there was a caveat at the beginning of the FAQs document. It said it was non-binding, and that every insurer could interpret and apply the statutory provisions (and the associated BMF letter from 4 March 2021) at their discretion.

This meant if insurers decided not to tax non-EEA subsidiaries based solely on this guidance, they could be subject to tax assessments later, where German IPT has not been charged.

7 September 2021

The BMF subsequently resolved this matter. They published a further decree confirming that for policies taken out by a German policyholder with an EEA insurer not relating to ‘special risks’, any premium apportioned to a non-EEA subsidiary is not subject to German IPT. This is because the Fiscal Code of Germany does not consider a subsidiary to be within their definition of a permanent establishment for tax purposes.

Need to learn more about IPT?

Want immediate help for IPT in Germany?

Need to ensure compliance with the latest IPT regulations? A managed service provider can help. Get in touch with our tax experts today.

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Author

Russell Brown

As senior consulting manager, Russell joined Sovos in 2021. A career spent in insurance premium taxes on global insurance programmes has given him many years of experience in handling compliance and advisory challenges from location of risk and IPT liability to co-insurance and financial interest clause cover. He has worked for financial service providers EY and TMF and more recently as head of indirect taxes at Tokio Marine HCC. He has been a member of both the ABI and IUA Indirect Tax Working Groups as well as being an active participant in regular Lloyd’s Indirect Tax Forums.
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