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About Starshollow

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  • Birthday 02/02/1967

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  • Location Starnberg
  • Nationality German
  • Hometown Munich
  • Gender Male
  • Year of birth
  • Interests finance, investment
    Tennis, Golf
    Reading (especially history, but also poems)

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  1. Buying index funds in Germany

    @transatlanticism  our Toytown's own special experts on taxation, PandaMunich and Straighpoop have already explained the relevant taxation issues to you in general.   Please also bear in mind that an investment in funds that are domiciled in Germany or the EU, regardless of them being actively managed funds or passive funds like ETFs,  will cause you (or your husband) serious complications and expensive reporting costs for the tax declaration in the US. Read this article to understand better why: Therefore - provided the Austrian taxation of US-domiciled funds does not create another complication to this regards like the German taxation of foreign funds did so far (which is, fortunately, going to change a lot come January 1st 2018), you should set up your investment rather with a bank/plattform that can and will report the necessary information to the IRS directly and use as investment US-domiciled funds instead (ETFs). While a lot of banks in the US do not cater (anymore) to clients who are not residents in the US for fear of violating the SEC rules on "know your client", there are still some that do. We offer our Germany based clients such solutions already to commence per January 1st 2018.   Cheerio  
  2. @MRyan  : as others have already said, while there is a clear and irrefutable right for you to be admitted into the BASIS-Tariff with any German private health insurance company in lieu of both public health insurance and admittance to "normal" tariffs there (provided you can obtain a VISA of 12+ months duration),  they will try to make this as hard as possible for you. And like any administration they have a lot of ways and means to do so. hence I would strongly recommend that from the first minute you employ the services of a "Versicherungsberater" for this, as they have a lawyer-like status and much more leverage. The costs will be then between 750-800 EUR for both individually, you AND your wife (though for you one might be able to find a different and less expensive solution, depending on your income level ). It might (!?!?!) be possible to switch your wife away from the Basis-tariff after a year or two into a normal tariff. Provided that the insurance starts at least 3 months before the birth, the child is always covered compulsorily in the same tariff like a parent. So, if one could get you into a different, normal tariff, the child would have after birth immediate access to YOUR insurance tariff (at the normal costs for small children). Otherwise the child will be also insured in the BASIS-Tariff at 50% of the costs.   Cheerio  
  3. Haftpflichtversicherung (liability insurance)

    @TurMech : this thread is mainly about "Private Haftpflichtversicherung", i.e. 3rd party liability insurance and not about car insurance (general liability or indemnity insurance for cars - KFZ-Haftpflichtversicherung).   Without any confirmation of your previous car insurance of a clean track record, you will always be considered like a new/fresh driver, regardless of how long you own a driving license. It is not the ownership of the licenses that counts but the proof of having driven a car with no/little damages and accidents in the past that is relevant for the insurance company.   If you don't have one yet, do not forget to set your self up with a 3rd party liability insurance, too. :-)   Cheerio  
  4.   @PandaMunich : Thorulf Müller seems to have been under a lot of stress recently from what I have seen/learned. And the Expats always came as as an add-on to his otherwise strong business with  Germans. But AFAIK, he is back in normal business circumstances and happy to assist. Having said that, I have probably another Versicherungsberater at hand with excellent English knowledge. I'll check back with him and report here soon. Cheerio  
  5. that is the problem - I have seen it happening based on proof of substantial assets/savings. But it is a hard way to do that. Sometimes it works if you are VISA-free for the first three months, live on savings and then apply from this point of view with. But it ain't ideal and not even remotely safe...   Cheerio  
  6. @PandaMunich I agree with you that the easiest and safest way for them would to move to another EU-memberstate with national/state health insurance for one year (husband could still travel every day to an office in Germany from Austria, Netherlands, Belgium or Poland...   I disagree in your assessment of the use of No. 13- rule for VISA-Expats.  From practical experience in several cases. If a non-EU-foreigner comes to Germany NOT on a self-employed VISA and is, at least for the first few months, not actually and effectively self-employed but living on savings or something, he can get access to public insurance under Clause Nr. 13.  It may be stretching the boundaries of the law, but it has worked on several occasions in the past.  However, as an active self-employed, it won't work - fully agree on that.   cheerio  
  7. perhaps @PandaMunich or @Zitzelsberger can react to this inquiry ?   Cheerio  
  8. @MRyan : this is a rather complex set-up your going thru. And, quite frankly, it would appear that your "employers" are in violation of EU and German employment and social welfare rules from the few facts I have gathered so far (but there are other experts here on Toytown who can say something solid about this, like @PandaMunich for instance?) Because if you are employed by a foreign company, they can either second you to Germany and then pay social welfare contributions for you as an employee in the home-country of the company and salary-taxes for you in the "host"-country.  Without a secondment they need to pay both social-welfare contributions AND taxes in Germany, otherwise, it is a violation of laws. When you think about it, that is easy to understand at the core...since Germany has a rather high level of social welfare (which creates costs for employers and employees both) it would be an unfair advantage for employers from the outside compared to employers in Germany if they could just hire people to work in Germany while keeping them outside the costs of social welfare etc in Germany. So, in itself - and though I know that this does happen not too rarely especially in the NGO and SME sector of employment - it is a rather fishy construction in my opinion unless someone can show me a testification from a large accounting/consulting company like KPMG, E&Y or Deloitte to the contrary :-)   As described by others above, as self-employed you can't join the German public health insurance system unless you have prior coverage to show from another EU-memberstatefor 12+ months (sometimes shorter times can be accepted, but legally there is no guarantee for acceptance below the 12+ months threshold) .Hence, a question for you and your "employer" would be if you can't start your job for the first years from Austria, Netherlands or any other EU-memberstate bordering to Germany...because all these countries do have national/state health systems that will get you immediately into a public health insurance.  And after one year you could move over to Germany with full access to German public health insurance.   Another potential way would be to move to Germany not as self-employed. I.e. as a person living from savings only but with a Visa of 12+ months initially. The latter is the harder part to obtain, obviously. Because if you arrive as a person living from savings/interest and what not, initially, you could get access to public insurance under the rule of "Nachrangige Pflichtversicherung" in accordance with § 5 Abs.1 Nr.13 SGB V .  We have made such cases successfully in the past, but it is a real pain and AFAIK it is quite harder to get a VISA based on savings than an occupation with a secure income.    Most German private insurance won't be too happy, either, with someone set-up like you guys. Since German private health insurances are a substitute for public insurance (a singular system that has no equal in the rest of the world) they must not terminate a contract even if the client fails or falls behind paying the monthly contributions...while continuing to be obligated to offer (i.e. pay for) emergency coverage. New arriving self-employed are considered a major credit risk to this regards because there is no available credit history in Germany and no other proof of income in the eye of the German health insurance beholder (which would be, for instance, a German tax note or German bank statements for the past 12+ months). You can only obtain - because you have a right for that - access to the so-called BASIS-tariff at any German private health insurance. Which would even cover existing conditions like pregnancy. Downside: costs 750+ EUR...per month...per person.... :-( We ( that is our broker company for Expats in Germany) has recently started a group tariff for self-employed Expats to bridge this problem. if you are going to make > 3.000 EUR p.m., you would be eligible to sign up with this group tariff. But it would not cover an existing pregnancy.   A final solution that comes to mind - but whose success would depend on whoever you are dealing with on the VISA-application side as an authority - is that you already start an international health insurance with for instance CIGNA, Globality or AllianzWorldWideCare to name just a few. These insurances you can carry over to Germany. While they are not fully compliant with the relevant German laws (especially § 193 Abs 3 VVG), they can be used for time-limited VISA initially and most Ausländeramt/immigration officers are still accepting them for the first 1-2 years of VISA for Germany (but not all, unfortunately) as compliant with § 195 VVG. Such an insurance, if set up now, might cover a pregnancy that starts in the next'll have to check the individual terms&conditions of such plans to see what kind of waiting periods they come with.   All in all, you definitely need in my opinion professional advice from a specialized broker or insurance consultant here in Germany. Several of them are advertising here on Toytown, take your pick. Due to the complicated set-up situation, you'll need to anticipate that you'll have to pay a fee for such advice (market prices would be around 400-500 EUR if a flat fee can be arranged or hourly fees).   Cheerio  
  9. Legal insurance is mainly "nice to have". though I would see it as imperative for landlords...  For employees is can also make sense. And for folks driving a lot by car every day and thus more prone to end up in a traffic-dispute.   We have compiled a list of the really important insurance for Expats living in Germany and those that are nice to have only or you can do well without them. You'll find the list here:   Cheerio  
  10. Buying index funds in Germany

    Yes...and No ! It depends very much what kind of investor you are (i.e. your personality and attitude towards risk&chances) and your investment goals. If you want to invest with a short-term horizon, which would be less than 3-5 years in my opinion at the very low end of the scale, then going with any volatile investment is not good. because the markets might take a nose-dive at any time and if you need the money there and then, you'll lose out. Ideally, money invested in any form of investment funds (active or passive ones like ETFs, which we would prefer, too) should be money you won't need for sure during the next 10+ years.   Also, ETFs - while a good choice regarding keeping your investment costs low - are not the same. And will be treated very differently in taxation starting next year. Those who are fully replicating will be taxed like other real investment funds  "Aktienfonds" whereas those that rebuild the index by artificial means (the vast majority) will be taxed like "Mischfonds" And you should diversify well into different regions of the world or just start with one fund that covers global shares/stocks (like the MSCI World index or similar) at least.   I really don't want to discourage you, on the contrary. But you need to become clear about your investment goals and how you are going to react to sudden value-reductions of 20-30 % for instance. If you then sell in a panic, you should not have invested there in the first place.   Cheerio   PS: before investing, in my professional opinion, you should make sure that your main risks in life are properly covered already. That means having a good health insurance, a good 3rd party liability insurance and some solid form of income protection (like occupational disability insurance or critical illness coverage) 
  11.   Wrong, Starshollow is located near Munich (Starnberg area) and JOhn Gunn is located near Hamburg. But we both offer for many years our advice via Email, Skype and phone to clients all across Germany.  If you like a face2face, we can't do that (we used to have an office near Stuttgart, but the advisor moved to Munich, too).     Cheerio  
  12. Most German insurance advisors have too little understanding of the actual issues around Expats when it comes to setting them up with good insurances. It is a field of specialization because on one side, Expats come often with different needs and wishes like the average German, on the other hand a large number of German insurance companies have all kind of limitations for foreigners for a multitude of reasons.   @Dipakk : I reckon you first need to understand better the different types of insurance intermediaries in Germany, i.e. tied/multi-tied agents vs broker vs consultant. You can read more or watch a quick video about this topic here:    DEBEKA is an insurance company that only works thru their very own tied insurance agents, i.e. they reject to cooperate with insurance brokers like the vast majority of insurance companies does.   That in itself is not a bad or good thing... it just means that anyone on the side of Debeka is meant to sell you their products and can only advise you within the limited range of what their employer offers with regards to the different insurances you need.    I would rather recommend you get yourself someone more independent like an insurance broker. There is no difference in costs to you whether you go directly to an insurance company or to a broker.   Cheerio  
  13. currently, it is indeed set so that you can start drawing from the pension plan when you celebrate your 63rd birthday.   Cheerio  
  14. Dear Toytown community!   Per January 1st 2018 a major change is going tobecome effective with regards to company pension plans in Germany.   1. ) the level of  the max. contribution that you can put into your individual company pension plan rises from currently 404 EUR ( 254 EUR plus 150 EUR) to 520 EUR per month because now the general level is based on 8 % of the so-called "Beitragsbemessungsgrenze der Rentenversicherung", which is being set at 78.000 p.a. in 2018. However, as in the past, only 4 % of the Beitragsbemessungsgrenze (always remember that for your next round of Scrabble :-) ) is also getting you and the employer deductions for social welfare contributions (and that only, if your gross salary is below those 78k EUR).  These 4% are now set at 260 EUR p.m. instead of prior 254 EUR p.m.   So, if you are paying into a company pension scheme, now is the time to check if you want to/can rise your monthly contributions. It is also always a good time to discuss with your employer some co-payments if there are social welfare contribution savings because the employer is benefitting from those, too....and has to co-pay for those anyway soon enough.   If you have not set up yet a company pension, it might also be a good time to think about it. But it is normally important to look at the costs of the plans available to you (if your employer limits your choices/options in particular) and if your employer is co-contributing, too.  A good professional advice may help you a lot in finding out the best option for you.   2. ) per 1.1.2019, employer has to pay a co-share of 15% to the company pension scheme of the employee. Actually, for old contracts started before Jan 1st 2018 there will be a waiting period for this clause to come in effect til 2022. But every reasonably employer who has not co-payed yet should start now anyway.   3. ) Also interesting:  it will be possible now to use pension plans without inherent guarantees for the final pension (capital or monthly annuity for the rest of your life). For many people - especially if they are planning on staying in Germany into retirement - this may not be of advantage, because those guarantees while producing costs on one side, are giving you security for pension planning because you have definite numbers you can count on.  However, for many Expats who only plan on staying a few years in Germany and still wanting to enjoy some of the tax savings offered with company pension schemes and who consequently rather think about cashing in the accrued capital when reaching maturity, this can be a benefit because it allows faster and better capital growth.    Again, what is best for you is depending on a number of parameters and some professional help may be recommendable.   4.) last but not least - for employees with lower incomes, it becomes now much more attractive to participate. If your gross salary is >= 2.200 EUR p.m., you can ask your employer to co-contribute 480 EUR per year to your pension plan which are fully tax deductible. That comes on top or besides the other social-welfare benefits that your employer could put into the pott, too.   I will issue more information here on Toytown shortly and re-write the Info on Rürup, Riester and bAV here on Toytown during the next weeks.   Cheerio            
  15. Oldest house in Bavaria demolished

    yet, it is definitely not the oldest house !!!!  Not by far...