An Ich AG is a one person company. You get financial benefits from the government for three years. The idea is that instead of claiming unemployment benefits whilst looking for a job, you instead start your own business and get money to help you do that.
The benefits are â‚¬600 per month for the first year, â‚¬360 for the second, and â‚¬260 for the third. These are tax free.
To qualify you must first register as unemployed. This is a simple matter of going to the Arbeitsamt and filling out a form which says "I am unemployed". You can then register as an Ich AG. When I registered there was some confusion about whether or not I had to be unemployed for 3 months before qualifying for Ich AG. One official told me I had to wait. Another told me I didn't. I chose to believe the 2nd official. I still don't know which of the two was correct, but my application was processed successfully.
A year or two ago the Ich AG was easy. You just walked up to your unemployment officer, filled out a simple form, and that was it, you got your money transfered to your bank account each month.
Nowadays, because of the unexpectedly high flood of interest in the scheme, the application has been made more difficult. I don't know how it now works first hand (because I'm already in the system) but I believe you have to submit a fairly detailed business plan. In German of course.
If you don't speak German don't even think about attempting this.
The Ich AG is only available to those planning to earn less than â‚¬25k per year. If you exceed that sum during your first or second years, you are disqualified from the remaining years.
State pension payments
Note that if you are claiming Ich AG you are obliged to pay into the German state pension system. This is unlike normal freelancers who have no such obligations.
The amount of pension contributions you pay depends on what you intend to earn. The minimum will be about â‚¬125 per month. So, effectively your Ich AG benefits in the first year are only â‚¬475 - but you do get the state pension (supposedly, although it'll probably be worth nothing in 30 years time).
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