Refusing to pay TV license fees (Rundfunkbeitrag)

817 posts in this topic

Summary

Post here if you're refusing to pay the German TV license fee (Rundfunkbeitrag).

Let us know what letters you've received and how you've responded (if at all).

Give and receive support from other fellow "Rundfunk-refuseniks".

Click the "Follow this" button top right to receive updates via email.

 

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Background info

On January 1, 2013, Germany introduced a new TV license fee system called the "Rundfunkbeitrag".

This system requires that all households paid €17.98 per month to fund the public broadcasting services (i.e. TV channels ARD and ZDF, public radio stations, and associated websites). On April 1, 2015 the fee was reduced to €17.50 per month.

The fee is not dependent on actual TV or radio usage. Rather, every household must pay one flat fee, even if they don't own a TV or radio.

The rationale for this system is as follows:

  1. Public broadcasting services are considered of benefit to society as a whole. Even if someone doesn't watch TV, or own a TV, that someone still lives in a society that is better informed, better connected, and better "culturally protected" because of public services. Everyone benefits, even if only indirectly, and therefore everyone should help fund it.
     
  2. The fee is collected separately from income tax because this is considered a way to give public broadcasting companies their independence. This is designed to prevent broadcasters from becoming government propaganda machines.
     
  3. The fee is flat, €17.50 for all households regardless of how many people live there, because this makes it easier to manage and collect. It reduces overhead costs and keeps the system simple and streamlined. The fee is also considered low enough that it shouldn't be a burden to anyone. If someone can afford a roof over their head, then they can afford a "little" extra for public broadcasting.

The above arguments are controversial, but those are the arguments given.

There are numerous counter arguments. One of them is as follows:

Publicly-funded broadcasting services made sense, to a certain extent, back in the 20th century. In recent decades however, the internet has superseded TV and radio. Nowadays people no longer need public TV and radio services in order to stay informed, connected, and "culturally protected" (whatever that means). Indeed, with the advent of social networking and independent news sites the general populace is now much better informed and connected than ever before. The younger generation in particular spend far more time social networking and sharing news via their smart phone than they do sat on the couch watching TV. And over the coming years the trend will continue to grow. Therefore public broadcasting is an anachronism that deserves to be phased out.

There's no easy way to get the system abolished though, because the media companies, government, and legal system are all in cahoots to maintain the status quo. This leaves refusal to pay as the only realistic option for the average person. If sufficient numbers of people refuse then eventually the system will collapse. Currently only a very small percentage are making a stand, but if those small numbers support each other, then gradually their ranks will grow. Eventually a tipping point will be reached and the system will cave in on itself. This is sure to happen eventually, but it could take anything from five to fifty years. In the meantime, threatening letters and debt collection notices are nothing to be scared of, they're just something to be dealt with.

There are a small but growing number of German-language websites and communities that offer support. These include the following:

This here thread you're reading now aims to be a center of English-language support.

Click the "Follow this" button top right to receive updates via email.

 

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Purpose of this thread

This thread below is for people who have made a decision not to pay the TV license fee.

We won't discuss here whether the Rundfunkbeitrag is justified or not, that is for the other thread: New TV license fee (formerly GEZ)

Instead, this thread will be used exclusively to share info about threatening letters received and how we're dealing with them.

If you are actively resisting against this system, post up your current status and what action (or non-action) you're taking.

Keep us updated with the latest letters received and any other action that may have been taken against you.

Click the "Follow this" button top right to receive updates via email.

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Hello.

I moved to Berlin from Portugal about 4 month ago, and a week after registering at Burgeramt, I got a letter from our GEZ friends. Tree weeks later, another letter, and last week third letter already saying something about paying for February (17.98). I didn't bother with translating it but I imagine they are already making light threats to pay up. I agree with with your line of thoughts and will just wait and see. Worst case scenario they will get the money anyway via enforceable payment. And yes, it's not about money, it's about the principle. Given the latest court outcomes regarding this subject, I believe sooner or later there will be more shit under the same "regulation".

Just my 2 cents.

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On 5/20/2014, 1:33:20, Editor Bob said:

Second Mahnung from Beitragbescheid

 

I'm up to this, only they want money up until march 2014 and have already tacked on neglegible late fees. I think I'll hold out until the yellow letter. With unlimited resources I would be actively fighting it instead of trying to ignore it, but well. One can only hope a german judge somewhere will be reasonable, though experience so far is that they're not. It's not only a tax, but a regressive tax.

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Moved to Frankfurt together in March, 2013. I was in Amsterdam prior to that, and partner lived in a WG in Giessen for about a year. NO letters then. Got my first letter a month or so after moving, and since then, 2 more. Partner got hers maybe 6 months after moving. We've ignored them all. She thinks I've received more because I am foreign, and they feel targeting me would work better. Haven't got a letter in maybe 4 months.

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I'm with you on this one Editor Bob. Going to wait it out. Do you need to respond to any of the letters at any point in time? Or can you just simply ignore them for 2 yrs?

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I've lost count of how many letters I've received; I think about five. I've only responded once saying that there's no contractual agreement between us and would they please delete my data. Of course, they ignored it, and the letters demanding payment keep coming.

 

In anticipation of my bank accounts being frozen when the debt gets big enough I've taken the following steps:

 

I have three separate current accounts in Germany.

I also, more interestingly, have a euro current account in the UK, which can receive and send SEPA payments at no cost, so I can use it to get paid (I'm a sole trader) and pay all my bills. It's with Citibank International, doesn't cost anything to run, and was easy to open. I opened it about 15 years ago though--things might have changed. If things get nasty I am prepared to empty all my German bank accounts--even close them--and just run all my finances from my UK-based euro account. That's how determined I am. They might find another way of making me cough up the money, but I am not planning to make it easy for them.

 

I've explored the possibility of opening a second euro bank account outside Germany and I've found these two options for affordable, offshore euro accounts that are easy to open for foreigners (you have to do little more than turn up at a branch with your passport and a bit of cash):

 

postfinance.ch in Switzerland

BankAustria in Austria

 

I've written to both banks and they've confirmed one can just drop in and open an account with them. For BankAustria you need to make an appointment.

 

Good luck!

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A video by zahlungsstreik.net showing what happened when an "enforcement officer" ("Vollziehungsbeamter") came to visit last week:

 

 

 

If you don't understand German then basically what happened was... when the officer learnt he was on video he very quickly got cold feet and left without saying much at all.

 

It's clear this thing works through intimidation. First they send friendly letters. If you ignore those then the letters get more and more threatening. Most people get scared and pay up. Eventually bailiffs are sent to your door. If you don't let the bailiffs scare you either, then it's not yet clear what happens next. I think worst case scenario is they simply steal the money out of your bank account, but so far I've not heard any reports of that happening under the new Rundfunkbeitrag system. There are a couple of Kontopfändung reports from the old GEZ system, but this might be astroturfing by the GEZ themselves to scare people, see German forum posts 1 and 2. Laws have since been updated anyway, making it harder for debt collectors to reach into your bank account. Even if money is stolen out of your account, that's nothing to be scared of either. I myself have two years worth of Beitrag put aside, along with an extra €100 or so to cover the extra fees they'll charge. The money's there. If they forcibly take it and I'm powerless to stop them, so be it, but I'm not going to volunteer the money.

 

Another video of a Vollziehungsbeamter being turned away, this is from April 2014:

 

 

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A small update here. After 5 month here in Berlin, I've got a quite different letter this time, plain and simple invoice where it shows that I owe 107,34 euros for 6 month. I suppose they have just put me on a biannual payment schedule. Looks like I'm registered involuntarily by them.

 

How about we have some fun guys? I'm pretty sure we all have a bunch of their envelopes. Today I'm kind of free at work, so I'm doing this small website where you enter, press a button and it generates a completely random data (name, address, fake bank data, etc etc etc) and fills automatically the PDF exactly like GEZ's one. Just print and send. If a big number of people does it.. well, at least will clod the system a little bit :)

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Further evidence that the threatening letters have no teeth:

 

 

Person Z liegt noch nicht in Ketten und wurde auch noch nicht gerädert :-)

 

Nach Ankündigung der ZV vom Beitragsservice kam eine Ankündigung der ZV von der Stadt/Finanzbehörde.

Die Frist von 14 Tagen ist seit 3 Wochen verstrichen, nichts passiert.

 

Also durchhalten!

Translation:

 

 

Person "Z" has not yet been chained up or executed on the breaking wheel. :-)

 

After the notice of debt collection from the Beitragsservice came another notice of collection from the city finance authorities.

 

The 14-day deadline expired three weeks ago, and nothing has happened since.

 

So, hang in there!

 

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If you ignore the white letters, they start sending you... wait for it... RED letters!

 

Ooooh, scary biscuits!

 

post-16-14048063338091.jpg

 

The exact nature of the letters varies from state to state.

 

This one is from Saxony-Anhalt, which is north of the Weißwurst Equator. Click to enlarge.

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Editor Bob,

I find your persistence commendable, and I plan on doing the same, but the orange and red letters you show there appear to be coming from an official agent of the state rather than from the Rundfunkbeitrag Service. I too would ignore such letters, but are things at this point not getting a bit "dangerous"? find it interesting that that after 3 unsuccessful attempts attempts that they are saying that " Das Konto kann gesperrt werden". I would think that if this were really serious that they would say something less vague more along the lines of "Wir werden Ihr Konto sperren". Or am I wrong here?

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I don't think it's dangerous. Worst they can do is deduct the money straight out of your bank account. And if you have the funds set aside already then it's no great stress.

 

Banks are only permitted to freeze your account up to the value of the amount owed. So if you have, for example, €1,000 in your account, and the Beitragservice want €300 off you, then you still have normal access to your remaining €700. The bank will freeze the first €300 and ask if you want to pay it. After two weeks, if you haven't yet given authorisation, then they take it anyway.

 

If, one way or another, they're going to get your money, might as well make them work for it. The more people who resist, the more clogged up the bureaucracy gets. This is one effective way of sending government a signal that something needs to change. If, on the other hand, everyone pays up like a schmuck at the first letter, then of course nothing will change.

 

There's a trickle of reports coming through now of people having their bank accounts forcibly deducted, e.g. this one from May 2014. Note, that link only works if you're logged into Facebook and are a member of the GEZ-Gier group. The group has >26k members and is full of status reports from other refusniks.

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I don´t understand why these letters are coming from the municipality? Isn´t that the job of the courts and Gerichtsvollzieher? Aren´t they the only ones allowed to break the locks of your home, as threatened in these letters? Is the process the GEZ has to follow different from that of normal creditors? Puzzling :blink:

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This never goes to court because there's no legal matter to be decided. Every household is supposed to pay and that's the end of it. No judge needs to decide whether you should pay, because it is already established that yes, you should pay. So instead of deliberating on the issue they just take your money. They'll only break the locks of your home if you don't have a bank account, which is pretty much nobody.

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Hello,

 

I have got now First Beitragsbescheid from Bayerischer Rundfunk Beitragsservice ARD ZDF.

 

I have not sent any reply from my side for their dozens of letters. Should I send "WiderSpruch" for this Beitragsbescheid?

 

Thanks!

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Unfortunately for myself, there is a flaw in this system. Since me and my girlfriend moved from outside of Germany, we both had to register and we both get the letters. So in the end if they charge our bank accounts.. it will be double of cost to us. I don't want to pay up but also don't want to pay the double in the end since they are getting into the banks.

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You should not have to pay twice if you are living together and registered residents at the same address. You should not really have both registered. One of you should have registered and the other rejected the letters giving the registration number of the registered tenant. One of you now needs to de-register using this form indicating in section 3 that you live together ("Ich ziehe zu einem anderen Beitragszahler"). In theory you should get double payments returned, but that may be more difficult to arrange...

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Thank you for the information, YorkshireLad6. I'll then (de-)register my girlfriend as living with me using my Beitragsnummer (they have already created one for me without me ever communicating back) and then will keep ignoring payment requests. If they charge my bank account, then it should be for both of us (at least makes sense).

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Dear All,

 

Finally got my Bescheid today.

I am going to send this Widerspruch soon.

Anyone got any comments before I send it off?

Points 1-7 are what everyone is saying. 8 and 9 are my own special personal outrages.

Many thanks for any corrections of my grammar or suggestions.

With this post, I am neither requesting nor giving legal advice.

 

Ihr Zeichen: XXX XXX XXX

 

Betreff: Ihr Schreiben vom (1)4.07.14

 

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

 

Ich habe heute von Ihnen einen Beitragsbescheid per Post bekommen.

Der Bescheid kam zwar erst heute, ist aber mit dem Datum 04.07.14 versehen.

Ein Brief aus bERLIN braucht keine 10 Tage um nach Berlin zu gelingen. Ich verwerte die grosszügige Vordatierung Ihres Schreibens als Merkmal eines unseriösen Gesprächspartners.

 

Gegen den Bescheid für die ‘offene Summe’ von €277.70 sowie die genannte Summe von €331.64 für den Zeitraum 01.01.2013 bis einschliesslich 06.2014 lege ich hiermit

W i d e r s p r u c h

ein. Der Widerspruch begründet sich wie folgt:

 

1) Es besteht zwischen uns keinerlei Vertrag

2) Ich benutze Ihre genannte Produkte nie

3) Die Behauptung, nur weil ich eine Wohnung miete, dass ich automatisch Ihre Produkte benutzt habe, ist völlig unlogisch und ungerechtfertigt

4) Ich besitze weder Radio noch Fernsehen

5) Der Rundfunkbeitragstaatsvertrag (RBStV) betrifft mich als Privatperson nicht.

6) Der ‘Beitrag’ ist als eine Steuer zu verwerten, und es fehlt den Landesrundfunkanstalten dem Gewalt, überhaupt eine solche Steuer zu erheben

7) Wie ausreichend und mehrfach bewiesen, ist der neue „Rundfunkbeitrag“ – eine verfassungswidrige Reform

8) Die ÖR Sender begründen deren Tätigkeit damit, dass die eine ‘Grundversorgung’ an Information und Unterhaltung gewährleisten. Diese Grundversorgung wird aber nicht geleistet.

(i) Das Angebot der ÖR Sender ist dermassen schlimm, dass es von Unterhaltung gar keine Rede sein. Der Vergleich mit zB der BBC in Grossbritannien ist für ZDF, ARD bzw Deutschlandradio einfach nur peinlich. Der Durchschnittsalter eines ZDF oder ARD Zuschauers (59) sagt alles.

(ii) Die Nachrichten die man im ARD/ ZDF und Deutschlandradio hört, dienen ebenfalls der Information nicht. Sei es die Lage in der Ukraine, Einwanderung in Deutschland, die EU und der Euro, Energiepolitik in Deutschland, Korruption in Deutschland oder die Finanzierung der ÖR Medien selbst, es kann weder von einer aufklärenden noch von einer unabhängigen Reportage die Rede sein.

Diese Tatsache erklärt sich u.a. damit dass die Politische Parteien, Interessengruppen, Werber, und nicht zuletzt Ihre eigener parteiische Journalisten viel zu viel Einfluss auf die Reportage haben. Diese Behauptung ist teilweise durch den Bescheid der Bunderverfassungsgericht vom 25.03.14 beweisen.

9) Die ÖR Sender sind gleichzeitig extrem verschwenderisch und beuten deren Mtarbeiter gelichzeitig aus. Die Intendanten werden mehr als üppig bezahlt. Dass diese Überbezahlung von der Politik erlaubt und unterstütztt wird, stellt einer gefährliche Bestechung der Medien durch die Politik da.

Ich betrachte es als meine demokratische Pflicht, die ÖR Sender als gefährliche ‘Staatsmedien’ grundsätzlich zu boykottieren.

Da ich mich nie für Ihre Dienste angemeldet habe, bin ich extrem verärgert über diesen Eingriff in meinen Rechten. Die von Ihnen betätigte Anmeldung, oder besser ‘Zwangsanmeldung’, basiert sich auf keinerlei Anmeldung meinerseits.

Sie haben kein Recht mich zwangsanzumelden und diese Aktion Ihrerseits stellt daher eine Verletzung meiner Rechte und eine sittenwidrige Nötigung da.

Ich bitte erstmal auf diese Art, Ihre unbegründete Zwangsanmeldung zu entfernen. Ich bitte Sie ferner weiterer Verarbeitung meiner persönlichen Daten zu unterlassen

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