Change of income tax bracket during marriage
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Als Ehepartnerin und -partner sowie als Lebenspartnerin und -partner stehen Ihnen drei mögliche Steuerklassenkombinationen zur Verfügung. Aus diesen können Sie frei wählen.
The tax class determines the amount of wage tax that is withheld from your wages.

If you and your spouse or partner do not live permanently apart, you and your spouse or partner can choose between the following tax class combinations:
  • IV / IV,
  • III / V or
  • Tax class IV with factor. Tax class IV with a factor is also known as the factor method.
If you submit a joint application to your responsible tax office with your spouse or partner, the tax classes can be changed from IV / IV to III / V or IV / IV with a factor. The assignment of tax classes III and V can also be swapped on joint request.

To change from tax class III / V to IV / IV, it is sufficient if you or your spouse or partner apply for the tax class change at your responsible tax office.

A change in tax class takes effect on the 1st of the month following the application.

For example, you and your spouse or partner can apply for a tax class change in the following cases:
  • You or your spouse or partner no longer receive wages,
  • You or your spouse or partner will return to work after unemployment.
From 2020, the change in tax class is no longer restricted to once a year.

In the following cases, you are obliged to inform your responsible tax office that a different tax class must be taken into account:
  • You and your spouse or partner have separated permanently,
  • Your spouse or partner has died.

A notice:
Since the law introducing the right to marry for persons of the same sex came into force on October 1, 2017, no new civil partnerships can be established in Germany.

Same-sex couples have been able to marry each other since then and are thus treated as equal to different-sex couples. Existing civil partnerships can be converted into a marriage.

However, there is no obligation to do so. Already existing civil partnerships can be continued in their previous form.
Form 'Application for tax class change for spouses / civil partners' with tax identification number and signature of both spouses / civil partners.


There must be an intact marriage or civil partnership so that you can choose between several tax bracket combinations.


  • Hamburg citizens can contact any regional tax office in Hamburg for ELStAM matters.
  • The registration offices are responsible for changing the civil status data in the register (e.g. marriage, establishing a civil partnership, birth).
Section 38b (3) of the Income Tax Act (EStG)
Section 39 (6) of the Income Tax Act (EStG)

Related Links

  • Leaflet on tax class selection 2021
  • ELStAM, general information on tax classes and combinations
  • ELStAM, employee, first change after marriage or establishment of a civil partnership
  • ELStAM, employee, factor method
To take into account a different combination of tax brackets, you and your spouse or partner can use the officially prescribed form to submit an application to your responsible tax office (see links).

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