Which taxes are students exempt from?

No mercy: students also have to pay taxes


The topic of taxes almost always plays a role for you, regardless of whether you work regularly as a student or only during the semester break: Here you can find out what you have to pay attention to if you are still earning your own money while studying.

For fast readers:

  • You can work as much as you want or can agree with your studies.
  • Basically, you have to pay taxes and social security contributions. But there are exceptions.
  • For example, if you work less than 20 hours a week as an employee, you only have to pay into the pension insurance. All other insurance obligations are no longer applicable.
  • Filing a tax return is mandatory in many cases. But the effort is worth it, the tax office often gives you money back.
  • As a mini jobber, you can earn up to 450 euros per month. As a rule, the employer pays the flat-rate tax. You can only pay 3.7 percent of your income into the pension insurance. As a mini-jobber, however, you can apply for exemption from this.
  • The statutory minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour also applies to mini-jobs.
  • In addition to BAföG, you can earn up to an annual tax exemption of EUR 4,880 (after taxes). In addition, every additional cent will be deducted from the funding. · Freelancers and the self-employed must check whether they are subject to sales tax.

Not all additional earnings are tax-free

Student life usually includes not only studying, but also working on the side. The money for your own place and a little private life has to come from somewhere. The following applies: You can work as much as you want and can reconcile with your studies. But that does not mean that what you earn is generally tax-free and, above all, social security-free.

If you work as a student, you have to pay taxes, health, long-term care, pension and unemployment insurance - regardless of the amount of the wage. But: There are exceptions. For example, if you work less than 20 hours a week, you will no longer have to pay any of the other insurance obligations mentioned above except for pension insurance. And there are more exceptions. It's worth taking a closer look.

Tax returns are not a horror

Taxes are a complicated business. No tax return has to be submitted if you stay below the basic tax allowance of 8,354 euros a year and do not work independently (as a student and single). Students with only one job without any additional income are also generally exempt (exceptions are possible, however). Filing a tax return can also be worthwhile for those who don't have to.

Freelancers and self-employed persons as well as students with several jobs always have to file a tax return. Likewise, students who earn other income, e.g. B. from renting and leasing.

Regardless of whether it is compulsory or not: if you have to submit a tax return or do so voluntarily, you don't have to despair: you can claim income-related expenses (flat-rate or individual proof) or special expenses for your studies of up to 6,000 euros. Different regulations apply here depending on the first or second degree.

It is therefore worthwhile in most cases to collect receipts and file a tax return. This is especially true in cases in which students stay below 8,354 euros over the year because they only work a few months of the year, but still get taxes deducted from their pay slips due to high monthly earnings.

Mini job: a maximum of 450 euros is taxed at a flat rate

Other exceptions apply to mini-jobs, where you can earn up to 450 euros per month. Mini jobs are not exempt from duties: The wage tax is a flat rate of 2% of income. As a rule, however, the employer pays this tax as a lump sum to the tax office. In addition, there are flat-rate contributions that the employer transfers to the social security fund.

Since the beginning of 2015, as a mini-jobber, you have to pay 3.7 percent of your income as your own contribution into the pension insurance (you can apply to be exempted from this. It is worth calling the mini-job center here). Important for you to know: If you earn additional money in addition to the mini-job, the income from the mini-job will not be taken into account in the tax return if it was taxed at a flat rate.

New year, new rules

Since the beginning of 2015, some new rules apply to mini-jobs. For example, more than 450 euros can be earned within a mini-job in individual months, provided the annual limit of 5,400 euros is adhered to. The legislator restricts that this can only happen irregularly and not in a foreseeable way. Another new feature is that mini-jobbers must now receive the applicable statutory minimum wage of EUR 8.50 per hour.

Tip: Mini jobs and other student jobs can be combined

If you already have a mini job and take another job, this is generally subject to tax and social security contributions. But: Here too, the legislator has created an exception: If you earn between 450.01 and 850 euros gross, you are moving in a so-called sliding zone. Your wages in this salary range are subject to insurance for you. However, you only have to pay a reduced social security contribution in the sliding zone. At 450.01 euros, this amounts to around 15 percent (this corresponds to 67.50 euros) of your wages and increases to around 20 percent if you earn 850 euros gross. However, the discount only applies to you as an employee. Your employer has to pay the full contribution.

No social security contributions for compulsory internships

An exception applies to compulsory internships (mandatory interim internship during the course): Anyone who is enrolled has freedom from health, long-term care and unemployment insurance as an intern regardless of the amount of the wages achieved and the weekly working hours in this employment. Therefore the intern is still subject to compulsory health insurance as a student in the student health insurance scheme; unless there is priority family insurance. In the pension insurance there is also exemption from insurance. In terms of taxation, it remains the same: The basic tax-free amount is 8,354 euros.

The bad news: There is no entitlement to a minimum wage for this type of internship. For the minimum wage, an internship must be voluntary, not a compulsory part of your training. During studies or training, voluntary internships must last longer than three months in order to be paid according to the minimum wage. If you have a degree, the minimum wage applies to all voluntary internships.

Own rules for BAföG or scholarships

There are also exceptions to general tax liability in connection with BAföG: BAföG or a scholarship paid from public funds, for example, are tax-free. But if you want to earn some extra money on top of that, you have to pay attention to the special rules that apply to BAföG and scholarships. Because the more you work, the less the state or the grant provider will support you. Sure: You shouldn't collect financial wealth during your studies, but knowledge.

For BAföG recipients, the following applies: In addition to BAföG, you can earn up to 406.67 euros per month. This corresponds to an annual tax exemption of 4,880 euros (starting August 1, 2016 it should be 5,400 euros). In addition, every additional cent will be deducted from the funding. If you are a scholarship holder, the amount that you can earn in addition to the scholarship without any deductions depends on the scholarship provider. You should definitely inquire about the details of the foundation conditions there.

As a self-employed entrepreneur, you have to register a business

If you work as a self-employed person during your studies, you have to declare your profit to the tax office. The same basic tax-free allowance of 8,354 euros is available to you as for a student job. If you practice a trade, you have to register this with your local authority. This applies, for example, to self-employed courier drivers, a bicycle workshop or a craft business. It looks a little different if you work as a so-called freelancer, for example as a journalist. Then you report this to the tax office responsible for you.

As a freelancer, all you need to do is make a simple income and expense statement. Even as a trader, an income surplus calculation is sufficient - provided you achieve a profit of a maximum of 50,000 euros per year. If you earn more, you have to take stock. You have to pay trade tax if your earnings as a trader are above the tax exemption of 24,500 euros per year.

However, you also have to pay attention to sales tax. If your annual turnover is below 17,500 euros and you do not expect more than 50,000 euros in the next year, you will be classified as a so-called small business owner and you do not have to show sales tax on your invoices and pay it to the tax office. (You cannot deduct input tax for this either.)

YouTubers as cross-border commuters

In principle, trade tax does not apply to freelancers. Incidentally, operating a YouTube channel is a gray area. While this may be a freelance activity, if you're generating advertising revenue, it's more of a business. In such a case, it pays to seek good advice from a lawyer or tax advisor. However, as a self-employed person, you always have to submit a tax return from the first euro you earn with your activity.


If you are thinking about self-employment, you should definitely find out about possible funding opportunities in good time. The offer ranges from inexpensive office space in municipal start-up centers to grants from state, federal or EU projects. Inquiries do not cost anything, but can be really worthwhile.

Further information

About MLP

MLP is your contact for all financial matters - from investments to old-age provision and insurance. Together we will discuss your ideas and show you what options you have.

MLP financify newsletter

Register now and receive information and tips about studying, career and finances once a month

Subscribe to Newsletter

MLP financify on the social web

    © MLP Finanzberatung SE, 2021