I moved 2 months ago to Germany from Dubai for a new job. I am placed in tax class 1 (steuerklasse 1). I am married but because my wife was waiting for her long stay visa (she is non eu passport holder) I think that is ok.

But now her long stay visa is approved she will come to Germany next week to live with me. From several websites I understand I need (or can) change to a different tax class if your are married. My wife will not have a salary/job for at least this and next year. So to which tax class should I change and how to do this? Can this be done online? I saw couples in class 3 and 5 if there is a big difference between in the incomes of both partners but my wife will have 0 income.

Thanks in advance.

3 Answers 3


You should change to class 3.

The 3/5 combination (you 3, she 5) is for asymmetric incomes, 4/4 for more symmetric incomes. Either way, it only defines your advance tax deductions; your real tax debt will be calculated after each calendar year is over. You will for sure pay too much tax during the year (and there is no easy way to avoid it), so make sure to do the income declaration at the end of the calendar year to get the overpay back ('Einkommensteuererklärung'). Staying in class 1 is not illegal, but rather stupid, as you pay much higher tax, like an unmarried person, which is a lot more (married means your income is seen for two pepole not for one). Basically changing to 3/5 significantly reduces your monthly deductions from income.

Your local tax authority ('Finanzamt') does this change, it should be simple.

  • Note: If you are in class 1 or 4, you are free to not file a tax return (Einkommensteuererklärung) and just assume that you paid the right amount of taxes. If you have any other classes on any Lohnsteuerbescheinigung or if you have more than one Lohnsteuerbescheinigung and they have different classes, you have to file a tax return (Einkommensteuererklärung). Sep 11, 2016 at 9:11
  • 1
    Not filing a tax return in the circumstances above is just throwing away money.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 14, 2017 at 14:37
  • Why is it stupid if one gets back the money after the Einkommenssteuererklärung anyway? It's all the same in the end?
    – gerrit
    Oct 2, 2022 at 21:55
  • @gerrit : because you’re giving the government a free loan from your money. You could keep it and invest it instead.
    – Aganju
    Oct 3, 2022 at 19:11

Tax class 3/5 is the best choice according to this list:

Tax Class I Those single or separated, but not falling into either categories II or III.

Tax Class II Single and separated, with a child, entitling them to a child's allowance.

Tax Class III “Married”, or “widowed employees who are within the first year of a spouse's death”

Tax Class IV Married employees both of whom receive income

Tax Class V Married persons who would normally fall into category IV, but whose spouse is in tax class III.

Tax Class VI Employees who receive income from other employment on other, or several different tax cards (Lohnsteuerkarte).


Yes, tax class 3 ist probably the best choice. You can only change the tax class once a year (deadline 30th of November. If you want to change the Steuerklasse, you have to fill out the official Formular “Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten/Lebenspartnern” (download: Bundesfinanzverwaltung offizielles Formular. Important: you have to sign it BOTH! And send to the Finanzamt. More Information is found at this Steuerklassen Ratgeber But don’t worry, the final estimation is always made by the Finanzamt with the income tax return: Do not worry, even if you did not choose the cheapest combination, you pay ultimately not a cent more taxes. After all is settled definitively in the tax return after the end of the year and here the tax brackets for the amount of the tax charged does not matter.

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