The increased distance allowance will already relieve commuters this year. Now Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has announced a further increase.
In view of the rising energy prices, the Federal Minister of Finance is open to a further increase in the commuter allowance. The FDP politician wrote on Twitter: "The many people who commute to work every day are particularly affected by the high energy costs. If everyone in the coalition takes this problem seriously, I'm open to significantly increasing the #commuter allowance from 2023 - from the 1st kilometer and not just for long-distance commuters."
The federal government had already increased the commuter allowance from 35 to 38 cents per kilometer retrospectively to January 1, 2022. The commuter flat rate is officially called the distance flat rate. Employees are allowed to use them on the days they commute to work. The tax office takes into account the full kilometers of the one-way distance, which covers the outward and return journey. The lump sum for commuters is limited to EUR 4,500 annually, unless the employee can credibly demonstrate that his expenses were higher.
Increase as part of the climate package
Since 2004, the distance allowance has been 30 cents per kilometer. Then the federal government decided on the climate package and increased the flat rate from the 21st kilometer to 35 cents for the years 2021 to 2023 and to 38 cents for the years 2024 to 2026. In the period between 2021 and 2026, low earners will also receive a mobility bonus in accordance with Sections 101 to 109 of the Income Tax Act: Taxpayers whose taxable income is below the basic tax-free allowance will receive a flat rate increased by 14 percent. The federal government, which consists of a coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP, has now simply brought forward the increase from 35 to 38 cents by two years.
For example, anyone who simply travels 50 kilometers between their home and work after deducting vacation on 200 days a year has previously been credited with 3,500 euros (50 km x 0.35 cents x 200 days). According to the new regulation, from this year there will be a credit of 3,800 euros (50 km x 0.38 cents x 200 days) - ie 300 euros more than before. In this case, the mobility premium intended to compensate for social inequalities would have amounted to 490 euros in 2021, but it is now rising to 532 euros due to the higher assessment basis – in this specific example it is 42 euros more than before. The taxpayer does not get his commuter lump sum transferred or paid out - the lump sum reduces his income and thus his tax burden.
Greens consider subsidy to be harmful to the environment
The Greens supported the increase in the commuter allowance - but from their point of view it is an environmentally harmful subsidy.They also complain that people with high incomes are more likely to benefit from a commuter allowance, since people with a low income have to pay significantly lower taxes anyway. The VCD (Verkehrsclub Deutschland), which is calling for a complete conversion of the distance allowance to an income-independent mobility allowance, takes a similar view.
The prices for petrol and diesel are currently very high and there is no relief in sight. In particular, this makes commuting costs more expensive for commuters. To compensate, the federal government has now decided to increase the commuter allowance from 35 to 38 cents per kilometer - retroactive to January 1, 2022.
The Greens, as part of the federal government, support the increase, but consider it an environmentally harmful and socially lopsided subsidy . In fact, people with high incomes and thus higher tax burdens benefit more from a distance allowance increase than people with low incomes. For this reason, the VCD, for example, calls for the complete conversion of the distance allowance to a kilometer allowance independent of income.