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Dog tax: Everything you need to know about registering

Hamburg, Munich or Berlin – the dog tax varies from place to place. But why pay it at all? We answer all of your questions about the dog tax here.

If you get a dog, you will most likely have to pay dog tax. In Germany, you register your dog with the local tax office. However, the actual costs are very different depending on whether you pay dog tax in Hamburg, Munich or Berlin, for example. Read the following article to find out who’s exempt from the tax, how high the contribution is and why the dog tax even exists.

What’s the purpose of the dog tax?

The dog tax has officially existed in Germany since the beginning of the 19th century. You pay this so-called “expense tax” to your local municipality. However, the name is misleading as it suggests that the city has to spend the money specifically on the “expense” that keeping a dog entails. This includes, for example, waste collection, maintenance of green areas or the provision of excrement bags.

In reality, however, the municipality can use the dog tax however it wishes. So, this contribution from dog owners often fills up empty coffers and contributes to the maintenance of kindergartens or swimming pools.

The purpose of the dog tax is not only to support cities, but also to curb dog ownership. Therefore, the cost of a second or third dog will be higher than the first. According to the law, owning an animal is a luxury. The dog tax in larger cities like Hamburg or Berlin is therefore more expensive because the psychological barrier to purchasing a dog is supposed to be high.

Who pays dog tax – and who doesn’t?

If you want to buy a dog privately, then you should find out about the dog tax in your municipality in advance. The tax office is responsible for setting the contribution rates. Dog tax is paid quarterly or annually for each dog that lives in your household. Registering a dog with your local authority should only take a few clicks:

How do I register my dog for the dog tax?

Find out in advance from your tax office about the costs of the dog tax and the registration date. If a dog is not registered, you could be fined several thousand euros for this administrative offence. Depending on the municipality, the deadline for registration can vary greatly, but it’s usually a few weeks before your new flatmate moves in. The best thing to do is simply go to the website of your municipality and search for “dog tax”. Then you can easily download and fill out all the necessary forms in just a few clicks.

The tax office collects the tax one to four times a year - depending on where you live. You’ll receive a tax stamp for your dog. This will either be sent by post or email. It must always be visibly displayed when you leave your home or property with your dog.

Who is exempt from paying dog tax?

Taxes don’t have to be paid on all dogs. Besides your own living conditions, it’s important where you buy your dog and what role it plays in public life. Here are the cases in which you may not have to pay dog tax, depending on your municipality: 

Recipients of unemployment benefit II

Those who can prove that the dog tax threatens their livelihood can be exempt from payment in some cities.

Dogs from an animal shelter

In some places, the following applies: If you get a dog from the animal rescue service, you don’t have to pay a contribution straight away. In Berlin, for example, owners are exempt from dog tax for one year.

Guide dogs

If the dog is more than just a good companion, and has an important job, then you don’t pay taxes. This also applies to people with a severely handicapped ID card, on which the codes “H”, “aG” or “B” are listed.

Police and sniffer dogs

Working dogs, whether in mountain rescue, at customs or with the police - your dog is more than just your personal cuddly friend.

Hunting dogs

A trained hunting dog may also be exempt from the dog tax depending on the place of residence.

Note: Many municipalities carry out checks in public to verify that your dog is wearing a tax stamp.  It is therefore not advisable to try to avoid paying taxes. The penalty can be a fine of up to €10,000.

How much does the dog tax cost?

As you’ve probably already noticed, where you live determines how much dog tax you’ll pay. The costs in big cities are usually higher, because the municipalities want to limit dog ownership. You’ll also pay more for a second or third dog. An exception is a so-called “listed dog”. Each state decides which breeds are on this list. These are mostly attack dogs or other dogs which are considered “dangerous”. The concept and the definition of these breeds is very controversial. Nevertheless, it can happen that you will have to pay more dog tax if you choose a listed dog like a Great Dane or a Bull Terrier. If you don’t have such deep pockets, owning one of these breeds could be unaffordable for you because of this regulation as you can pay up to €1,000 to own them in some cities.

The legislator wants to protect the public with this regulation. Often there is a character test for your dog besides its biting behaviour, in which you have to prove how you behave together in public. More information can be obtained from your municipality.

Dog tax in different municipalities

As the costs for the dog tax vary so much, preliminary research on the homepage of your municipality is a must. Most municipalities offer a clear overview of all of the important information at a glance. We’ve put together some examples of German cities to show you how big the differences are:

Register and insure your way to happiness

When you’ve registered for the dog tax, you’re one step closer to having your own dog. Before the purchase, it’s worth having a look at the future insurance options. Dog liability insurance helps in an emergency - if your dog damages another person’s property, for example. Find out now what your options are for insuring your new dog with Coya.

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