Taxes & Law

New property tax: what's in store for online retailers

Nadja Müller

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Are you an online retailer and do you have a warehouse as part of your business assets? Then you can't avoid the current property tax reform. We will inform you about the most important changes and the planned process.

Property tax as you know it

If you sell goods online and have bought your own warehouse for this purpose, you must pay property tax. The same applies, for example, if you have your own office space. In both cases, the unit must be part of your business assets.

Up to now, the tax office has determined the so-called unit value. It multiplies this by the tax base rate. The municipality in which your warehouse or office is located applies the assessment rate to this.

The standard values should actually be reassessed regularly every six years. However, nothing has happened since 1964 and in the new federal states even since 1935. This also means that a house built in 2015 is valued in the same way as one built in 1964. You are probably right to ask yourself: But surely a modern building has better fittings and a higher value? Sounds unfair? The Federal Constitutional Court thought so too. The judges saw this as unequal treatment, also because different property taxes apply to similar buildings. They wanted a new regulation in the law by 2019. No sooner said than done - the new law was passed at the end of 2019.

How to make it fairer

Is property tax fairer now? Or do you perhaps have to pay extra now? We can relieve you of this worry. With the new regulation, from 2025 the tax office will first determine the actual value of the property before calculating the property tax. The value of the property depends on the standard land value and a statistically determined net cold rent. Both are to be updated at regular intervals. It is also relevant what area your property has, that you use it for business purposes and how old it is.

Because the tax offices not only have to revalue warehouses, but a total of almost 36 million properties and agricultural and forestry businesses, the valuation will take a long time. The tax office will therefore continue to calculate the property tax for your warehouse or office according to the old rules until 31.12.2024. The new system will then apply from 1.1.2025.

Incidentally, the federal states can also deviate from the new federal legislation and adopt their own solutions. Some federal states do this, such as Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Hesse and Saarland.

What you need to do as an online retailer

You can submit this declaration electronically from 01.7.2022 and this phase will end on 31.10.2022. So be vigilant - a letter from the tax office could arrive in your letterbox soon. However, you can gather your documents before then to avoid getting stressed at short notice. In order for the tax office to reassess your warehouse or office space individually, you must submit a "declaration of assessment" electronically. This includes

  • Plot area (stated in the purchase contract for the property)
  • Standard land value (the tax office should know this)
  • Type of property (detached house, semi-detached house, condominium or similar)
  • Age of the building
  • Surface area

Conclusion

For you as an online retailer, the topic of property tax may also be on your agenda this year. If you have a warehouse or your own office space as business assets, the declaration of assessment should already be on your to-do list. However, you don't have to get stressed when the tax office contacts you. You can start preparing for it now.

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