Is the church mandatory

Membership and contribution obligation


Members of an Evangelical member church are those Evangelical Christians who have their place of residence in the area of ​​the member church and have been baptized, unless they belong to another Evangelical church or religious community. With this regulation of membership law, the term of residence or habitual abode is linked to state law. A member of a member church of the EKD and of the EKD is someone who is also a member of a parish. Church membership begins with baptism or re-entry ends with death, leaving the church territory permanently, converting to another religious community and leaving the church.

If a church member gives up his domicile in Germany only temporarily, his church membership remains in effect, even if the church member joins a Protestant church in his place of residence. For the period of temporary absence, the church member is exempt from his duties (including paying church tax) towards his parish, the member church and the EKD and is not entitled to vote. The law of the member churches can provide for exceptions to this.

Evangelical Christians moving to Germany from abroad become - regardless of their nationality - members of the member church of their place of arrival, even if they remain members of their Evangelical church abroad.

Membership also gives rise to the obligation to contribute to the financing of church tasks. As a rule, this is done through the church contribution in the form of church tax. Only church members are liable to church tax. Those who are not members of the church do not pay church tax either. Foreigners are liable to church tax if they have their place of residence or habitual abode in the Federal Republic and belong to a religious community entitled to tax.

No church tax is paid by those who are neither domiciled nor habitually resident in Germany. They are subject to limited tax liability and their domestic income is only subject to state tax (income tax).

The church money (or community contribution) is a form of supplementary financing for church work. It is requested in particular by the parishioners who do not pay church tax and thus contributes to the horizontal fairness of contributions.

A distinction is made between two forms:

  • The obligatory (local) church fee.
    In some regional churches it is used - in staggered or fixed amounts (between 3 euros and 120 euros per year) according to income - in particular to finance tasks at the parish level. The (local) church fee is determined by a notification. The total revenue of the mandatory church money is around 0.6 percent of the total church tax revenue.
  • The voluntary church money.
    For him, the donation character dominates. This type of church money is requested by the parishes - often to finance a specific project.