On 09.04.2020, the tax authorities published a BMF letter on the payment of tax-free allowances and support during the Corona crisis (Ref. IV C 5 - S 2342/20/10009 :001 DOK 2020/0337215).
In order to mitigate the additional burden of the corona crisis, employers can offer their employees
The aid must be provided because of the Corona crisis.
Therefore, salary components that have already been promised for other reasons or that employees have already been entitled to (e.g. bonus payments for previous fiscal years that are due now) are not eligible.
The conditions specified in R 3.11 Paragraph 2 sentence 2 numbers 1 to 3 LStR do not need to be fulfilled in detail. Due to the fact that the Corona crisis affects society as a whole, it can be generally assumed that there is a reason justifying the aid and support within the legal framework of R 3.11 Paragraph 2 sentence 1 LStR.
However, a prerequisite for tax exemption is that the aid is paid in addition to the salary that is owed in any case.
According to the tax authorities in BMF letter of 05.02.2019, benefits are only provided "in addition to the wage owed in any case" if
The tax authorities clarify that employer contributions to short-time work compensation do not fall under the tax exemption. The same applies to subsidies paid by the employer as compensation for short-time working allowance due to exceeding the income threshold for contributions. These payments are also not tax-exempt under § 3 No. 2 a EStG.
A limitation to certain occupational groups is not made in the BMF letter; the allowances can therefore be paid to all employees in the tax sense (including mini-jobs).
The tax-free benefits must be recorded in the payroll account. Other tax exemptions (e.g. employer's benefit for emergency childcare in accordance with § 3 No. 34a EStG, the monthly € 44 - exemption limit for non-cash benefits in accordance with § 8 Paragraph 2 Sentence 11 EStG or the discount allowance in accordance with § 8 Paragraph 3 Sentence 2 EStG), valuation allowances or lump-sum taxation options remain unaffected and can be claimed in addition to the tax exemption in accordance with § 3 No.11 EStG.
The provision of § 3 No. 11 EStG quoted in the BMF letter applies only to aid from public funds. However, since the BMF letter refers to R 3.11 Paragraph 2 LStR at several points, it can be assumed that the tax exemption also applies to employees in the private sector.
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