Change in church tax deduction when leaving the church

By leaving the church, the obligation to pay the church tax ceases to apply. The procedure for this is largely automated.

If you leave a tax-collecting religious community, the obligation to pay church tax as a supplement to income tax or wage tax (Lohnkirchensteuer) does not apply according to the church tax laws of the federal states. The employer therefore no longer has to withhold the church tax from the employee's salary in addition to the wage tax and pay it to the tax office for each wage payment. The corresponding procedure for eliminating the deduction of wage church tax is largely automated. As a rule, you do not have to do anything further after your declared resignation to get rid of your obligation to pay the church tax.

How and at which point the resignation from the church is to be explained is regulated differently by state law. Church membership is recorded with the registration authorities of the Länder and can only be changed by them. The tax authorities have no influence on this. This is important, for example, if the authorities have incorrect data.

The registration authorities notify the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) of changes in church membership and the corresponding date. The BZSt stores the electronic income tax deduction characteristics (ELStAM) in a database. The stored data also includes characteristics for church tax deduction.

The BZSt provides the ELStAM to the employer for free automated retrieval. For the withholding of the church tax in the tax deduction procedure by the employer, the ELStAM are decisive, i.e. the employer is bound by this and does not need to examine the question of church tax liability.

You do not need to submit any documentation.


  • Declaration of resignation from the church to the competent authority under the respective state law

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  • § 39e paragraph 3 Income Tax Act (EStG)

They make a declaration of resignation from the church to the competent authority under state law.

  • This office informs the respective registration authority, which in turn transmits the resignation and the date of withdrawal to the tax administration.
  • Therefore, no application or notification to the tax office is required.

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Lower Saxony State Tax Office

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