Riester Rente vs. other pension schemes

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It´s a bit more complicated than that, Tim Horton´s Man: it´s ok for both employees and self-employed (and their spouses) IF they are paying into the German State Pension scheme (GRV) on a compulsory basis ie they´re able to qualify for a State Bonus ( zulageberechtigt ).

 

It´s usually a waste of money (because: no State Bonus) for those NOT paying into the GRV eg many self-employed, some employees, students, pensioners, those on a long term(Erwerbsunfähigkeit) disability pension :angry: etc...a bit complicated.

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It´s a bit more complicated than that, Tim Horton´s Man: it´s ok for both employees and self-employed ....

 

Thanks very helpful

 

 

I guess all of this information is a lot to take in for a beginner with very little experience in economics and investment schemes, but who anxiously wants to put small amounts of money in a safe place for later use.

 

Underlying all this is the hardest question to answer, "how to invest". Over the last 20 years investment risk has been pushed on the people in the form of DC (defined contribution) pensions. Invest well and you have a very comfortable retirement. Make a few bad choices and you could see your retirement plans vanish is a moment.

The problem is too many people are at the mercy of the sharks of Wall Street, time and time again I've seen people be put into bad investments simply because the TNL@TB (the nice lady at the bank) is told to sell this products. For example both my sister in law and nephew, on my advice went into the local branch and inquired about some specfic low cost bank MF and guess what. TNL@TB never heard of them, took a full 20 mins of searching to find them. Now if they had to go to this effort to get into some low cost funds what the average investor who isnt aware of this to do!!! So if I can give you one bit of simple bit of investing advice that will turn you from a average under performing investor to a top tier investor it would be to read the book Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallman. There are loads of great investing books out there,many tailored to newbies but I recommend his book for two reasons, one it's highly readable secondly the basic principals can be applied anywhere regardless of where you pay taxes because the same principles apply Balance portfolio, low cost time. It doesn't get any simpler than that but trust me most people don't know that.

 

While I'm on the subject let me give a shout out to Johng. When it came time to choose the funds for my Rurup he sent a link to Morningstar (Mutual Fund rating firm) and told me to choose. I was so impressed that I took his recommendations, as mentioned too many advisers steer you to funds that earn the best commissions not the ones that are best suited to you!

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Underlying all this is the hardest question to answer, "how to invest". Over the last 20 years investment risk has been pushed on the people in the form of DC (defined contribution) pensions. Invest well and you have a very comfortable retirement. Make a few bad choices and you could see your retirement plans vanish is a moment.

At leas to this regards, the tax subsidized pension plans offer some protection/relief: whether RIESTER plans, RÜRUP plans or bAV (company pension plans) they all come with an inherent guarantee that your invested money (minus fees and commissions, of course) are still there at the end of the investment time. Now, of course this is still a loss - if only thru inflation - but you can't loose all your money as is possible elsewhere. And with the tax advantages it should usually always get you a positive turn-out in the end

 

Cheerio

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I agree entirely, Starshollow! As long as people go for a basket of decent equity plans and don´t sign up for the ridiculous classical Rentenversicherungen/Kapitallebensversicherungen with their black box savings plans!

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I've been reading about Riester but still have a couple of questions about it:

1. I know that if one leaves Germany, he can continue paying into the thing:

a. But does he still get the gov. subsidies? I.e. the 300Euro per child born after 01.01.2008 for example? I assume the contributions are no longer tax deductible (depending on where one moves maybe they still are)...

b. Also how is the 4% computed in this case for maximum gov. subsidies? Do you have to declare your income to the German authorities even if one is not resident?

2. If one becomes unemployed and has no income, can she keep the plan but pay the 5Euro per month?

3. Suppose last year's gross income is such that the required contribution is the maximum amount of 2100 per year. How does the math work? One pays monthly 2100/12 and at the end of the year, the gov. adds on top of this 154Eur + any additional payments for children? So for example one puts in 2100, gets 154 (for himself) + 300 (one child born after 01.01.2008) from gov., so the total amount that goes into the pension is 2100 + 154 + 300 = 2554 for this year?

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Hi Hedgehog2,

 

go to: https://www.dws.de/Tools/Altersvorsorge/Riester-Rechner to do the math. -you receive a full calculation with all options - you can read everything and get all questions solved

 

For questions feel free to call me at 09131-9209088

 

regards danny

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Seems that the total per year has to be 2100: so one deducts whatever he gets from the state, and only has to pay the rest up to 2100 (per contract).

 

Any ideas about the answers to 1a., 1b. and 2?

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1. I know that if one leaves Germany, he can continue paying into the thing:

a. But does he still get the gov. subsidies? I.e. the 300Euro per child born after 01.01.2008 for example? I assume the contributions are no longer tax deductible (depending on where one moves maybe they still are)...

no, the "Zulagen", i.e. direct subsidies are also pending on you being a tax resident in Germany still...

 

 

 

 

b. Also how is the 4% computed in this case for maximum gov. subsidies? Do you have to declare your income to the German authorities even if one is not resident?

the 4% max. is based on your gross taxable income while in Germany - and only gives you the max amount (capped indeed at 2.100 tops per year even for higher incomes) that can be invested with tax savings.

Tax savings do not apply to you when you are not a tax resident anymore. In which case you can use the plan just like any other savings plan with investments in mutual funds run by DWS. And the cap of 2.100 does not apply in this case anymore anyway (even Germans could pay more than 2.100 p.a., but would not get any tax benefits for the higher amount).

 

 

 

 

2. If one becomes unemployed and has no income, can she keep the plan but pay the 5Euro per month?

-- yes, absolutey. Which is why it is so importnat to use plans with no to little up-front costs...

 

 

 

 

3. Suppose last year's gross income is such that the required contribution is the maximum amount of 2100 per year. How does the math work? One pays monthly 2100/12 and at the end of the year, the gov. adds on top of this 154Eur + any additional payments for children? So for example one puts in 2100, gets 154 (for himself) + 300 (one child born after 01.01.2008) from gov., so the total amount that goes into the pension is 2100 + 154 + 300 = 2554 for this year?

-- no, you deduct the subsidies from the 2.100 EUR. In your case you can invest 1.646 EUR tops per year for full tax benefits.

 

Cheerio

I am a professional independent insurance broker, financial adviser, and authorised advertiser. Contact me.
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Starshollow/john.g/anyone, could you answer these questions for me:

 

1) If you retire outside the EU, do you need to pay back the subsidies and tax breaks or has this been revoked only for those retiring within the EU?

2) Can you contribute 2100-subsidies if you are employed for only part of the year or is it pro-rated to the amount of time that you are employed?

3) The tax break that you get is decreased by the subsidies. Is this correct?

4) Can you break the plan before you reach 60? If yes, do you get back contributions+profits-subsidies-tax breaks?

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I have been conversing for some time with a financial adviser on the Rürup-Rente, however some of the information he has provided does not seem to match with what I am reading here. It would be great if the information can be confirmed (I realize this thread has been running for several years now, and rules/conditions change).

 

First about myself if this influences things... I am non-EU mid-30's freelance IT consultant, with 2 kids born since 2008 and German wife who is employed. I expect to be living in Germany for the next 10-15 years. After that, who knows what the future holds!

 

Here are the key components of concern from my correspondence with the financial advisor:

 

1. All Basis Rente products come with front loaded costs which are spread over the first five years of the plan

2. The invested money is "my money". If I was to invest €500,000, then this is the minimum guaranteed amount I will receive back from the pension plan. If I was to pass away, then this would pass to my wife. If both my wife and I were to pass away, then this would pass onto our children.

3. For the Basis-Rente, there is no condition under which I would be required to repay any part of the pension to the government. So if I was to leave Germany permanently, then the entire pension contributions would remain.

4. The pension can be taken as a lump sum at 63 years old, or can be taken as a monthly pension. There are no penalties for taking the pension as a lump sum as opposed to a monthly pension.

5. When the pension is taken, it will be taxed at whatever the applicable tax rate is in the country I am living at the time (I assume considering other income etc.).

 

Many thanks for assistance on this topic. I can see the obvious benefits of the Rürup-Rente... but with investments that involve large amounts of money, I am very nervous about setting up such an investment if I feel I am being pushed towards a specific product or provider (Alliance in this case).

On the Stiftung Warentest, Alliance was listed at about 10-15th on the list...

 

Incidentally, I would like to invest in a product that allows me to select the investment funds. Any product where I am guaranteed a return based on the investment companies performance with my money is of no interest. Complete transparency is required with my money and how it is invested!

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Hi global,

 

I can help you with most or all your questions and how to find saving plans with NO front-up cost.

it ist available - for sure!

 

For questions feel free to call me at 09131-9209088 in Erlangen

 

regards danny

----------------------------------------

 

1. All Basis Rente products come with front loaded costs which are spread over the first five years of the plan

This is not correct - there are different versions and rebates available!

 

2. The invested money is "my money". If I was to invest €500,000, then this is the minimum guaranteed amount I will receive back from the pension plan. If I was to pass away, then this would pass to my wife. If both my wife and I were to pass away, then this would pass onto our children.

This is not correct - additional insurances can provide this!

 

3. For the Basis-Rente, there is no condition under which I would be required to repay any part of the pension to the government. So if I was to leave Germany permanently, then the entire pension contributions would remain.

This can not be true if no. 5 is true.

I am not sure - this has to be clarified! - Living in Germany it will be taxed - as the general state pension!

 

4. The pension can be taken as a lump sum at 63 years old, or can be taken as a monthly pension. There are no penalties for taking the pension as a lump sum as opposed to a monthly pension.

I fyou stay in Germyn - This is not correct! I don't think it is different if you live elsewhere - but this has to be clarified!

 

5. When the pension is taken, it will be taxed at whatever the applicable tax rate is in the country I am living at the time (I assume considering other income etc.).

This might be - needs to be clarifed!

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I have been conversing for some time with a financial adviser on the Rürup-Rente, however some of the information he has provided does not seem to match with what I am reading here. It would be great if the information can be confirmed (I realize this thread has been running for several years now, and rules/conditions change).

 

First about myself if this influences things... I am non-EU mid-30's freelance IT consultant, with 2 kids born since 2008 and German wife who is employed. I expect to be living in Germany for the next 10-15 years. After that, who knows what the future holds!

 

Here are the key components of concern from my correspondence with the financial advisor:

 

1. All Basis Rente products come with front loaded costs which are spread over the first five years of the plan

2. The invested money is "my money". If I was to invest €500,000, then this is the minimum guaranteed amount I will receive back from the pension plan. If I was to pass away, then this would pass to my wife. If both my wife and I were to pass away, then this would pass onto our children.

3. For the Basis-Rente, there is no condition under which I would be required to repay any part of the pension to the government. So if I was to leave Germany permanently, then the entire pension contributions would remain.

4. The pension can be taken as a lump sum at 63 years old, or can be taken as a monthly pension. There are no penalties for taking the pension as a lump sum as opposed to a monthly pension.

5. When the pension is taken, it will be taxed at whatever the applicable tax rate is in the country I am living at the time (I assume considering other income etc.).

 

Many thanks for assistance on this topic. I can see the obvious benefits of the Rürup-Rente... but with investments that involve large amounts of money, I am very nervous about setting up such an investment if I feel I am being pushed towards a specific product or provider (Alliance in this case).

On the Stiftung Warentest, Alliance was listed at about 10-15th on the list...

 

Incidentally, I would like to invest in a product that allows me to select the investment funds. Any product where I am guaranteed a return based on the investment companies performance with my money is of no interest. Complete transparency is required with my money and how it is invested!

 

Point 4: it´s called a Basisrente (Basic Pension) because it´s supposed to be just that - a pension, which means it´s paid out monthly as a life long pension. It is encouraged by the State through excellent tax deductibility.

 

It is, theoretically, possible to have it paid out as a lump sum after the age of 63 BUT that would be massively damaging as you would have to pay back to the State all the tax you´d saved over the years! DO NOT go for that option!

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Thanks John & Danny for the fast response on this.

 

I had the feeling that the consultant I was working with was giving me the answers I was looking for... which is why I haven't signed off on anything yet.

 

 

It is, theoretically, possible to have it paid out as a lump sum after the age of 63 BUT that would be massively damaging as you would have to pay back to the State all the tax you´d saved over the years! DO NOT go for that option!

Yes, this part I figured out regardless of if it's possible or not last night - though I would expect a financial advisor to provide me with this guidance up front. <_<

I guess what I would be looking for is the ability to nominate the amount I take from the "pension" on an annual basis - to maximize income while minimizing tax each year. Probably a pipe dream, but I really don't like the idea of leaving money I've worked hard to earn to an insurance company should I depart before my time!

 

Disclaimer: I am from Australia, where we have the fantastic compulsory Australia Superannuation scheme. My "pension" in Australia is not held by an insurance company, but in an investment fund, in my name. At retirement age I nominate an allocated pension, or can access the funds (obviously with restrictions). If I die young, my superannuation is paid to a nominated beneficiary or paid out to my estate (taxed at the appropriate tax rate).

 

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I will be contacting the consultancy in question to "query" the advise provided.

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First about myself if this influences things... I am non-EU mid-30's freelance IT consultant, with 2 kids born since 2008 and German wife who is employed. I expect to be living in Germany for the next 10-15 years. After that, who knows what the future holds!

ok - as a freelancing person you do indeed only have the option to generate tax savings thru a RÜRUP-/BASIS-Pension plan in your own right.

Since your wife is an employee, though, you guys can also BOTH do a RIESTER plan, she can do so directly and you indirectly because your spouse is an employee (but you can only do it if and when she does a RIESTER plan). Plus your wife can do a bAV/Betriebliche Altersvorsorge if she isn't already doing it. These combined options should be considered all together if advising you as a family because each kind of plan has pros and cons. If the family has a certain budget to put into pension planning, I would advise to use the max on your wife's bAV first (unless she earns more than 66000 EUR per year gross), then RIESTER (without upfront costs are strongly reduced upfront costs) and then the RÜRUP pension plan

 

 

Here are the key components of concern from my correspondence with the financial advisor:

 

1. All Basis Rente products come with front loaded costs which are spread over the first five years of the plan

Based on some info you very kind enough to provide me with a PM I am shocked about this information - it is utterly incorrect. There is at least one plan from DWS that comes without upfront costs available. Other than that there is always a good way to reduce the upfront costs in the following way: set up the plan for only 50 EUR p.m. contractual premium (based on which the upfront costs are computed only) and then put the reminder of the money you want to invest aside in a savings account each month and then put the safed money in with lump sums once or twice a year. You'll pay a fee on these lump sums, of course - but it is less than if you put the contract up for, say, 500 EUR p.m. form the beginning and pay upfront fees for those 500 EUR times 12 times the years the contract runs (should not be set up for longer than age 63 in my opinion, neither) There are only two cases where I personally deviate from this approach:

- if someone needs the RÜRUP plan to get a Niederlassungserlaubnis from the Ausländeramt. because the Ausländeramt requires a policy that shows a certain amount to have been guaranteed by reaching the age of 67 and that goes only if you set it up with a fixed monthly rate.

- I had one case where a client said, he'd rather put his money in monthly albeit the upfront costs because he knows himself well enough to fear that if he puts serious money into a savings account on the side, he'll go on a shopping spree every year around Christmas and squander it rather than putting it into the pension plan. Fair enough then... :P

 

 

2. The invested money is "my money". If I was to invest €500,000, then this is the minimum guaranteed amount I will receive back from the pension plan. If I was to pass away, then this would pass to my wife. If both my wife and I were to pass away, then this would pass onto our children.

Not entirely correct, either.

1. yes, the money is yours and it is protected. A RÜRUP plan has to guarantee at the very least the capital you invest to be there when you reach the end of the contract time (minus the fees and administrave costs, that is).

2. your death will be dealt with differently if you pass away before you start to draw the pension or after you start drawing the pension

2a if you kick the proverbial bucket before you reach the pension age, the capital can accrued can be transfered to a RÜRUP plan of your wife's. But the capital cannnot under any circumstance be paid out to the wife directly. If both of you die, similar rules apply for the children: they'd need to set up a RÜRUP plan for them and the money can be transfered to this so that they themselves can get a pension later in life

2b if you take a suite in the worm hotel early after you started enjoying your pension, your wife is entitled to a widower pension at best from your monthly pension, i.e. around 60%. She can only draw a full pension if you set up a special clause for that for so-many years when you decide to start drawing the pension. This option, however, will reduce your own monthly pension as it is an additional risk/costs for the insurance company, of course. You can also set up a pension payment to your children for such a case under similar constructs.

 

But, and this is important: Never ever will the capital invested in the RÜRUP plan itself be transfered to a spouse or children after your death. To this regards it is similar like the public pension.

 

 

3. For the Basis-Rente, there is no condition under which I would be required to repay any part of the pension to the government. So if I was to leave Germany permanently, then the entire pension contributions would remain.

Because you received tax benefits when you pay into the plan, the pension payments are taxable income. Yes, you can get the pension paid out to wherever you live in the world, but it will be taxed at source first in Germany.

 

 

4. The pension can be taken as a lump sum at 63 years old, or can be taken as a monthly pension. There are no penalties for taking the pension as a lump sum as opposed to a monthly pension.

This is horrendously wrong, I am afraid, for a RÜRUP plan. You can never take out the capital that has been invested into a RÜRUP plan at any time, before or after you reach pension age. This is only possible with a baV/Direktversicherung (where you will be taxed on either, lump sum or monthly pension). . this is also the point that draws the most critizism in Germany, but I think it has also merrits: not only are you unable to touch that money (so, no way you can buy a Porsche in your midlife crisis to impress this blond bigchested bombshell 20 years younger than you), but also no-one else can: I have seen it often enough how someone who is self-employed loses all his pension capital when he hits tought times and goes bankrupt. The capital in a RÜRUP plan is protected until you start drawing your pension against forclosure etc.

 

 

5. When the pension is taken, it will be taxed at whatever the applicable tax rate is in the country I am living at the time (I assume considering other income etc.).

Mostly correct. There will be some taxes initially in Germany and then some tax credits etc for the country where you live. It certainly will depend on the country where you'll be living by then.

 

 

Many thanks for assistance on this topic. I can see the obvious benefits of the Rürup-Rente... but with investments that involve large amounts of money, I am very nervous about setting up such an investment if I feel I am being pushed towards a specific product or provider (Alliance in this case).

On the Stiftung Warentest, Alliance was listed at about 10-15th on the list...

Which insurance is taken depends on a number of factors. First of all, if you are more inclined to go the "classical way" in the form of a pension assurance plan with fixed interest plus bonus or rather with a fund-based investment. In the first case, the selection ought to be, in my opinion, based on which (solvent and solid) insurance company offers the highest guaranteed pay-out when you reach pension age.

If you are going for a fund-based investment, two other factors play a role: available selection of funds and guaranteed pension factor (this is the guarantee how much the insurance will pay to you every month for the rest of your life for every 10k EUR capital accrued in your plan by then. to this regards, Allianz is in my opinion one of the prime choices indeed.

 

 

Incidentally, I would like to invest in a product that allows me to select the investment funds.

This then rules out the DWS plan which comes without upfront costs

 

 

Any product where I am guaranteed a return based on the investment companies performance with my money is of no interest. Complete transparency is required with my money and how it is invested!

Fully agree.

 

Hope this info helps you to understand your options better,

 

Cheerio

I am a professional independent insurance broker, financial adviser, and authorised advertiser. Contact me.
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Looks like my questions got lost in the thread.

Starshollow/john.g/anyone, could you answer these questions for me:

 

1) If you retire outside the EU, do you need to pay back the subsidies and tax breaks or has this been revoked only for those retiring within the EU?

2) Can you contribute 2100-subsidies if you are employed for only part of the year or is it pro-rated to the amount of time that you are employed?

3) The tax break that you get is decreased by the subsidies. Is this correct?

4) Can you break the plan before you reach 60? If yes, do you get back contributions+profits-subsidies-tax breaks?

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Looks like my questions got lost in the thread.

Starshollow/john.g/anyone, could you answer these questions for me:

sorry about that...

 

 

1) If you retire outside the EU, do you need to pay back the subsidies and tax breaks or has this been revoked only for those retiring within the EU?

are you discussing RIESTER or RÜRUP here? From the next question and the 2100-limit I would derive that you ask about RIESTER, right?

Ok, here is the deal for RIESTER: yes, if you leave the EU for ever when retiring, you'd have to repay the tax benefits and direct subsidies (ZUlagen) received. This would be deducted, though, with only 15% of your actual monthly pension payments for as long as it takes to "repay" the benefits received. Since these benefits remain the same in amount (i.e. they are not adjusted for inflation and are not coming with extra interest) you are still gaining from this - plus, if the RIESTER plan was in investment funds, you can keep all the profits you generated with these tax benefits and subsidies, which boost the performance of your own, net-investments nicely.

I seriously doubt, though, that this regulation can be administrated well in the future - the costs of tracking if someone lives in the UK or NZ and therefore dealing with the pay-outs in different ways is in my opinion too high and eventually the insurance companies and the governement will stop charging this back. On top of that, changes are pretty high that something like the British QROPS regime for pension plans will be installed EU-wide and that will offer even more options for you in the future.

 

 

2) Can you contribute 2100-subsidies if you are employed for only part of the year or is it pro-rated to the amount of time that you are employed?

AFAIK it is pro rata

 

 

3) The tax break that you get is decreased by the subsidies. Is this correct?

not exactly, but nearly so. The direct subsidies limit what you can/should invest in the RIESTER plan - which then leads to lower amounts that you can write off in your tax declaration. So, usually you pay only 1.946 EUR per year into your own RIESTER plan (2100 minus 154 direct subsidy/Zulage) and thus you can write off those 1946 EUR. If you add a child to your plan with 300 EUR p.a. subsidy, you'll be able to invest/write off only 1.646 EUR p.a.

Does this help you better understand the effect on taxes from the Zulagen-payments into your plan?

 

 

4) Can you break the plan before you reach 60? If yes, do you get back contributions+profits-subsidies-tax breaks?

what do you mean with "breaking" here...

1) stop paying into the plan - yes, you can always do that, in which case only the already invested money continues to accrue interest/profits til pension age. if you have used a plan with full Zillmerung/upfront costs, you'd be also "losing" the costs you have already paid upfront for money that you are now not investing anymore, one good reason why it is important to keep upfront costs as low as possible

2) or do you mean cancelling the plan and taking out all the money? In contrast to RÜRUP plans you can indeed do that with a RIESTER plan, but you'll get the paid out the capital minus tax benefits received and minus subsidies received only (but including any profits/ield/interest you have made with your own money and the money from the subsidies/Zulagen)

 

Cheerio

I am a professional independent insurance broker, financial adviser, and authorised advertiser. Contact me.
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Thanks for answering. I was talking about Riester. I was looking at signing up for a plan without the upfront costs. I was asking whether I can cancel it completely in case of an emergency. From what you say, the plan will amount to an interest free loan from the government until I decide to cancel the plan or take a lumpsum.

 

Are you forced to decide whether you want a pension/lumpsum when you reach 60?

If you die before you make the decision, can your spouse/children get the lumpsum?

Regarding the limit, are you sure that its prorated? It makes a difference to my decision to start one this year. Also if I have worked for 6 months this year, is it (2100-154)/2 or (2100/2)-154 or 2100-(154/2)?

 

I am confused by the calculation shown on the dws website. Let say I earn 80k this year. My tax would be 22905. If I deduct 1946 the tax is now 22043. That's a tax break of 862. DWS says the tax break should be 768. Which one's correct?

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Starshollow, what you said regarding deductibility of riester plan contributions seems to be different from these sources

link1

page 8 of this pdf

 

They say that you can deduct whatever you contribute including the subsidies. However the tax break that you get is then reduced by the subsidies. With this kind of calculation, I get closer to what DWS is saying.

 

BTW, are you supposed to make the contributions by 31Dec or do you get some time in 2014?

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Hi,

 

I was just going through the sign-up process for a Riester product from Hannoversche - not as a final decision yet, but just to get a full overview of the conditions. They seem favourable - unless I'm missing something, it's a simple 5.5% yearly flat fee, apparently exclusively for customers of my bank (ING DiBa).

 

However, the website refuses to allow me to proceed as soon I click any nationality other than German:

 

"Aufgrund unserer Annahmerichtlinien können wir Ihnen den gewünschten Tarif leider nicht anbieten."

 

Is this legal?

 

Can I lie and tell them I'm German? I definitely wouldn't feel bad about it.

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