“Lebensbescheinigung” - Life Certificate
Once a year, pensioners abroad must send the completed and verified “Lebensbescheinigung” to their pension authority in Germany. The verification would usually be done by local South African authorities (for example commissioner of oaths, notary public, banks or SAPS). If necessary, the verification can also be done by a German Mission abroad.
In case the pensioners can no longer sign the form themselves, the relatives or care-givers should contact the German pension authority to discuss alternatives.
Please remember to send the “Lebensbescheinigung” before the end of the early deadline.
Important Information of the German Pension authority for a simplified procedure for a “Lebensbescheinigung” in 2020 can be found here
Does the pension authority have up to date information?
Always make sure that the pension authority in Germany has your current address. A failure in being able to contact you may, in worst case, result in them stopping your pension payments.
Your can contact the pension authority directly or use the service of the German Post to inform them of changes.
Taxes on Pensions
Since 2005, a gradual taxation of pensions has been instituted. The percentage of the pension that will be taxed depends on when the pensioner reached pension age - if they reached the pension age in 2005, 50% of the pension remains tax-free, if they reach pension age in 2020, only 20% will remain tax-free.
Pensioners abroad are subject to special provisions: A pensioner who resides abroad is usually only subject to limited taxation - meaning that there are no tax exemption limits and the pension will be taxed from the first Euro. There is, however, the possibility of applying for unlimited taxation, which would result in a lower tax liability.
What if I don't react?
Since 2011, the revenue office has been contacting pensions abroad and inviting them to make an annual tax declaration. If this has not been followed up upon by the pensioner, the revenue office would have fined the pensioner or estimated the taxes due - if the overdue taxes have not been paid, the revenue office would have seized the German bank account or pension claim.
On the website of the revenue office, you will find further information - please note that the German Mission cannot offer tax consultations.
Applying for Deferred Payment
You can ask to allow you to pay overdue taxes in instalments and use the following suggested text: