Pension requirements, if any, as a freelance photographic retoucher who is new to Germany.

15 posts in this topic

Dear TT,

 

I am aware that there is ample previous coverage about contributing to the German state pension (Deutsche Rentenversicherung). But... this mainly covers teachers only. I understand some other professions are also required to contribute.

 

I need the facts answered clearly. I work 98% of the time as a photographic retoucher who works with photoshop, I rarely take photos where I receive money but lets say 2% of my income is through taking pictures. Must photographic retouchers who are self employed freelance workers working for different clients, contribute to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung? Does my profession fall into this category of those who must contribute or not? Does anyone have a current list of the professional occupations which are obliged to contribute? I want to see the facts.

 

As a mid 30's British person who is newly registered in Berlin, DE since 4 months, I am planning my future to potentially stay long term. I heard terrible things about the DRV, its horrendously poor investment value. I do not want to contribute. I also have the dilemma of dealing with Brexit. As a non EU person, will I need to prove I am contributing to the DRV in order to stay if I need a resident permit if Brexit happens? If if if... Or if my profession does not fall into the category which must contribute DRV, is a private pension sufficient for the visa office? Or can I carry on contributing only to my UK pension, would this be enough to retain my residency status at the visa office or must it be a German fund?

 

I heard that if 83.3% of your income is with one client that you must then contribute to the DRV regardless of who you are or what you do as freelance worker. Is this the case? I may be close to the 80% by the end of the tax year, my regular 'main' client is not German, Is there no loophole around this? I worked for about 10 clients this year so far, so I am definitely 'freelance'. But my main source is from the regular client who I do not want to lose. Is there no way I can still legally please the visa office with my contributions but avoid the DRV? I understand the KSK as an option for 'artists'. Is my profession acceptable for the KSK to cover me? If the KSK cannot cover me are there any other options? I heard about this. https://smart-eg.de/en/ If I was covered by either of the 2, would this void me having to contribute to DRV if I work more than 83.3% with one client? I cannot lose my main client.

 

Germany is certainly not the freelancer friendly at all. NOT AT ALL. Is there anymore hidden horrors I should uncover before I decide to settle further?

 

I look forward to hearing your advice on how I should go forward before I am too far 'into' Germany. I may decide to leave the country purely based on potentially having to give approx 19% of my income to a terrible fund. And I cannot lose my clients.

 

Thanks TT

 

p.s - I already fully contribute to a German healthcare fund.

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Does your work as a photographic retoucher entail something like below? Is this art? Well, it's not Van Gogh, but you could ask the KSK. I think it is :).

 

Oh, here is your list with professions: https://www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de/Allgemein/de/Navigation/1_Lebenslagen/02_Start_ins_Berufsleben/03_Existenzgruender/01_Selbststaendig_und_pflichtversichert/selbststaendig_und_pflichtversichert_node.html

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9 hours ago, jeremyjeans said:

I understand the KSK as an option for 'artists'. Is my profession acceptable for the KSK to cover me?

 

With the KSK, you would be paying just under 10% into the DRV anyway ( they would be paying the other half ) Call them and ask   04421 9734051500

 

9 hours ago, jeremyjeans said:

I may decide to leave the country purely based on potentially having to give approx 19% of my income to a terrible fund.

 

Good luck finding a country where you do not legally have to contribute to a pension fund. Seems a bit over the top to me but whatever.

 

You would ( should ) be claiming the payments against tax anyway thus reducing your tax liability, so whats the problem?

( You would have to be paying into an acceptable altersvorsorge plan of course )

 

Good luck with whatever you decide

9 hours ago, jeremyjeans said:

p.s - I already fully contribute to a German healthcare fund

 

Private or Public? 

 

Calling @john g.

 

 

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@LukeSkywalker 

9 hours ago, LukeSkywalker said:

Does your work as a photographic retoucher entail something like below? Is this art? Well, it's not Van Gogh, but you could ask the KSK. I think it is :).

Yes it is something similar to this, focused mainly around the fashion industry. Working for studios or agents often regularly who have the clients or direct with clients themselves.

 

Thanks for the link re: DRV. I often use https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?sl=de&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de%2FAllgemein%2Fde%2FNavigation%2F1_Lebenslagen%2F02_Start_ins_Berufsleben%2F03_Existenzgruender%2F01_Selbststaendig_und_pflichtversichert%2Fselbststaendig_und_pflichtversichert_node.html to make it simpler, Ich lerne noch deutsch! Continuing with english the webpage says, 

 

"This includes: 

Craftsmen and homeowners. Please note the information specially compiled for this purpose.

Teachers, if they regularly earn more than 450.00 Euro per month (also part-time). The notion of teaching is here interpreted broadly: So, tuition as well as golf or aerobics lessons. Self-employed coaches, coaches, moderators, supervisors or Feldenkrais educators can also be considered teachers.

Educator, if your activity is focused on character training and personality development of children and adolescents. In addition to educators in kindergartens or hoards, day-care mothers are also insured.

Care workers, if you act predominantly on a medical order.

(Document) midwives and maternity carers, even if you employ insurable employees.

Sea pilots except internal air traffic controllers, the Travelotsen and the pilots of the Flensburg Fjord

Coast boaters and fishermen belonging to a ship's crew or coastal fishermen fishing without a vehicle. Prerequisite: You regularly employ no more than 4 insured employees.

Artists - these include all persons who create, perform or teach music, performing or visual arts.

Publicists, such as writers, authors and journalists and also, if you teach journalism.

Persons who work predominantly for a client. Colloquially, here is spoken of bogus self-employment. Are you unsure if this applies to you? Then please inform yourself in the corresponding chapter."

 

Now this is the problem. They say "This includes", not, "these are all the occupations". I would say that if I am applying for the KSK then I should assume I need to contribute to the DRV if I am not accepted also, when looking at this list at least. Which I do not want to do.

 

@LeCheese Yes the KSK is great. Currently if I pay my current healthcare and full price DRV contributions, the total deduction is approx 38%, before tax deductions. If I were accepted to KSK, my personal outgoings would halve. I heard the application process is very complex, I doubt a phone call will suffice. 

 

2 hours ago, LeCheese said:

Good luck finding a country where you do not legally have to contribute to a pension fund. Seems a bit over the top to me but whatever.

 

The German state pension is very high % of your income, maybe you are not aware of this. In the UK, the contributions for the self employed are approx 9% compared to your approx 19%. I am sure there are other countries in the world which have much better rates than both the UK and DE but who still look after their elderly.

 

2 hours ago, LeCheese said:

Private or Public? 

Public, why is this relevant regarding my post?

 

There is still not the question answered for the 83.3% with one client. Is this guaranteed to happen? Do DRV find you, if so how, when? Or for instance if I were to go under the wing of someone like KSK or https://smart-eg.de/en/, would this mean I can work for one client 100% of the time for example? 

 

Also any thoughts on the resident permit regarding all of the above on this very vague and complex matter? 

 

Like many countries in the world, none of this information is clearly explained to you when you arrive. They spring it on you when it is too late, business business business!

 

Looking forward to hearing opinions. Thanks so far,

 

Jeremy

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@LeCheese

2 hours ago, LeCheese said:

You would ( should ) be claiming the payments against tax anyway thus reducing your tax liability, so whats the problem?

( You would have to be paying into an acceptable altersvorsorge plan of course )

Problem is that those payments (pension) still need to be made. It is not a free pension fund just because it reduces your tax bill. Your link recommends Rurup as a private scheme for the self employed freelancer. I understand this may be a better option, thanks for the info, but my post is about DRV specifically, whose rules force certain people to contribute a large % of their income when they may not want to. 

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40 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

LeCheese Yes the KSK is great. Currently if I pay my current healthcare and full price DRV contributions, the total deduction is approx 38%, before tax deductions. If I were accepted to KSK, my personal outgoings would halve. I heard the application process is very complex, I doubt a phone call will suffice. 

 

The phone call is to find out if your profession is acceptable to be a member of the KSK, the will not be able to give you a definitive answer

 but they would advise you. You do not need to give details, frame it as a general question.

 

42 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

The German state pension is very high % of your income, maybe you are not aware of this

 

I am German ( or have been for quite a few years now ) It is the price you pay for living here

43 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

I am sure there are other countries in the world which have much better rates than both the UK and DE but who still look after their elderly.

 

As I said, good luck finding one with a high level of medical care / pension

 

43 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

Public, why is this relevant regarding my post?

 

It can be very difficult moving from Private to Public health, which is why I hoped @john g. would see this and chip in.

 

44 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

There is still not the question answered for the 83.3% with one client.

 

Simple answer is to call the DRV and ask, you do not need to give your details, just frame it as a general question. If your German is not good enough, get a German speaker to call for you.

 

16 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

Problem is that those payments (pension) still need to be made.   It is not a free pension fund just because it reduces your tax bill.

 

Ah, so it is the principle then? Personally, If I paid 10k pension payments yearly and I reduce my tax liabilty by 10k in the process, I see it as a win win.

 

49 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

Or for instance if I were to go under the wing of someone like KSK  would this mean I can work for one client 100% of the time for example? 

 

Not under the KSK, you would be classified as Scheinselbständig ( click on the english version ) Don't know about the other one you linked to.

 

55 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

If I were accepted to KSK, my personal outgoings would halve

 

Not sure if you realise this, but with the the KSK, your contributions depend on your income / profit. If you do not make too much money, your contributions reflect this and can be fairly low, if however, you do  well, your contributions will rise considerably to reflect this. The KSK is a great deal for those who qualify, which is reflected by the hoops one has to jump through to get in. ( No, I am not a KSK member but I know people who are )

 

 

1 hour ago, jeremyjeans said:

Also any thoughts on the resident permit regarding all of the above on this very vague and complex matter? 

 

In short, No. Nobody really knows what will happen until the UK gets its finger out and actually decides  what it wants. I would recommend reading the current Brexit thread as regards residence here

 

It is fairly up to date I believe.

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Here is some more info on bogus self-employment in German and more professions where this might occur: https://www.fuer-gruender.de/wissen/unternehmen-gruenden/unternehmen-anmelden/scheinselbststaendigkeit/

 

E.g. graphic designers and texters are listed. Your profession falls in the same category in my opinion. If you work longterm for one client and 5/6 of your income comes from that client, then this is seen as bogus self-employment and you have to pay into DRV. 

 

Expensive lawyers offer their services and can probably find some loophole, but I'm an employee myself. Better ask other freelancers for advice.

 

And yes, Germany is not freelancer friendly. Mentioned on TT before in several threads by multiple people.

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40 minutes ago, LeCheese said:

Simple answer is to call the DRV and ask, you do not need to give your details, just frame it as a general question. If your German is not good enough, get a German speaker to call for you.

@LeCheese I have tried calling the DRV, they do not speak to you unless you give your DRV number. Which I did and spoke in my broken German, asking hypothetical questions about the situation to find out that the person I was speaking to was the wrong person. I decided I didn't want to call back and speak to the right person. I don't want to get too involved with them unless I have to.

 

42 minutes ago, LeCheese said:

Ah, so it is the principle then? Personally, If I paid 10k pension payments yearly and I reduce my tax liabilty by 10k in the process, I see it as a win win.

Do both either DRV and private pension contributions as a self employed person reduce your tax bill at 100% of the contribution amount? Is this definitely applicable to the DRV contributions also or just private?

 

44 minutes ago, LeCheese said:

Not under the KSK, you would be classified as Scheinselbständig ( click on the english version ) Don't know about the other one you linked to.

The English version on your link takes you to USA information. Obviously English language only means America :) I am not sure if you understand my question correctly about this. My understanding is that if you are classified as Scheinselbstandig then you are forced to contribute approx 19% of your income to DRV as a freelance self employed person. I am trying to avoid this. I am considering joining the KSK or https://smart-eg.de/en/ to avoid having to contribute 19% of my income to DRV. So my question was, if I am under the wing of KSK and I work over 83.3% and am classified as Scheinselbstandig, do my contributions under KSK remain the same even if I work for only one client 100% of the time or does this % change?

 

Simply put, when you have 19% DRV contributions, 17% health insurance, approx 30% tax payments, Germany does not look that appealing financially. Yes the healthcare is good, not always but in general it is good, I'm not sure if the system is that good. And of course you can find other countries which have a high standard of private healthcare. It is narrow minded to think this isn't achievable at the same cost or cheaper.

 

@LukeSkywalker

21 minutes ago, LukeSkywalker said:

E.g. graphic designers and texters are listed. Your profession falls in the same category in my opinion. If you work longterm for one client and 5/6 of your income comes from that client, then this is seen as bogus self-employment and you have to pay into DRV. 

Are your two links, https://www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de/Allgemein/de/Navigation/1_Lebenslagen/02_Start_ins_Berufsleben/03_Existenzgruender/01_Selbststaendig_und_pflichtversichert/selbststaendig_und_pflichtversichert_node.html and https://www.fuer-gruender.de/wissen/unternehmen-gruenden/unternehmen-anmelden/scheinselbststaendigkeit/  not the same professions listed?
If you do not earn 5/6 of your income through one client, must graphic designers etc, still contribute fully to DRV? Which professions must contribute full to DRV regardless of 5/6 their income from 1 client?

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17 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

I have tried calling the DRV, they do not speak to you unless you give your DRV number. Which I did and spoke in my broken German, asking hypothetical questions about the situation to find out that the person I was speaking to was the wrong person. I decided I didn't want to call back and speak to the right person. I don't want to get too involved with them unless I have to.

 

They are the only ones who can definatively tell you - if your German is not adequate, get a German speaker /friend to make the call for you.

 

18 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

Do both either DRV and private pension contributions as a self employed person reduce your tax bill at 100% of the contribution amount? Is this definitely applicable to the DRV contributions also or just private?

 

Up to 84%  or 19,624,08 for single & 39,248,16 for couples.

 

23 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

My understanding is that if you are classified as Scheinselbstandig then you are forced to contribute approx 19% of your income to DRV as a freelance self employed person. I am trying to avoid this.

 

Then make sure your income  is not over 5/6 from one client. ( and avoid any of the other conditions )

25 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

Germany does not look that appealing financially.

 

Then either move to wherever you think it appeals better financially or get a really good Tax accountant here. ( also tax deductable btw )

 

26 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

do my contributions under KSK remain the same even if I work for only one client 100% of the time or does this % change?

 

You misunderstand, if over 5/6 of your income comes from one client, and you are classed as  Scheinselbstandig,  the KSK will not take you on in the first place.

 

33 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

And of course you can find other countries which have a high standard of private healthcare. It is narrow minded to think this isn't achievable at the same cost or cheaper.

 

Name them. Which countries?

If you do all of your work online, I am sure you could move elsewhere and do the work online there. It rather begs the question of why you came to Germany first though as even a modicum of research would have told you that pension and heath contributions are fairly high here.

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13 minutes ago, LeCheese said:

If you do all of your work online, I am sure you could move elsewhere and do the work online there. It rather begs the question of why you came to Germany first though as even a modicum of research would have told you that pension and heath contributions are fairly high here.

@LeCheese I have lived here a long time ago so I have a good understanding of healthcare and other pension. But not with all fine details regarding pension system apple today like they used to. When I lived here my occupation was not the same and so the same does not apply regarding pension contributions either. The country is not suitable for everybody, in fact it is terrible for the creative industries despite its international reputation. Maybe it was in the past but no more.

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7 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

The country is not suitable for everybody, in fact it is terrible for the creative industries despite its international reputation. Maybe it was in the past but no more.

 

People keep saying that yet they keep on coming.

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@fraufruit

12 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

People keep saying that yet they keep on coming.

 

You're right, the myth lives on. But those who have been here for a while are also leaving in droves for greener pastures.

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11 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

The country is not suitable for everybody, in fact it is terrible for the creative industries despite its international reputation. Maybe it was in the past but no more.

 

The thing is, berlin was always cheap and liberal so creative types have flocked here over the years and have managed to survive.  What berlin and indeed germany in general does not do very well is "grown up" arts and creativity.  Sure there is deutsche oper, various art galeries, and a startup scene that has "lots of creativity" and so on, but the reality of the creative industry in berlin is still mostly amateur and wannabes.  At the moment you can find no end of spray painted matresses in kreuzberg (art, I presume?) which is all very edgy and different, but it isnt making anyone much money.

 

5 minutes ago, jeremyjeans said:

you're right, but those who have been here for a while are also leaving for greener pastures.

 

Indeed, if you want to do more as an artist than hang around in an achingly hipster squat smoking pot and sticking it to the man, berlin might not be a great choice.

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@zwiebelfisch

31 minutes ago, zwiebelfisch said:

Indeed, if you want to do more as an artist than hang around in an achingly hipster squat smoking pot and sticking it to the man, berlin might not be a great choice.

 

:) I did that 12 years ago but how sustainable is that... There is mostly a very specific type of foreigner or person who comes to Berlin. This stereotype, is changing. 

 

31 minutes ago, zwiebelfisch said:

The thing is, berlin was always cheap and liberal so creative types have flocked here over the years and have managed to survive.  What berlin and indeed germany in general does not do very well is "grown up" arts and creativity.  Sure there is deutsche oper, various art galeries, and a startup scene that has "lots of creativity" and so on, but the reality of the creative industry in berlin is still mostly amateur and wannabes.  At the moment you can find no end of spray painted matresses in kreuzberg (art, I presume?) which is all very edgy and different, but it isnt making anyone much money.

 

As the type of person arriving is changing, I suspect this is changing fast also. I don't mind the DIY art, everyone comes from somewhere. Though this doesn't really happen anymore as the rents are too high, these people have left as well, unless you're of rich background whether foreign or German. But yeh, I guess the myth will live on, 3 times the price that it used to be but without its core.

 

The Berliners who are left may be glad to see the back of the foreigners, the city cannot cope. 

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The lists with professions are not identical, because professions who work for one main client can be various, e.g. an IT Consultant or Developer. The list is never complete. A graphic designer with different clients where the income is spread, e.g. 50-30-10-10 does not need to pay into DRV. The first link lists professions who need to pay into DRV. The last category of that list refers to various professions with bogus self-employment. The second link mentions such examples.

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