3 Min.

How does volunteering affect your tax return? (Ehrenamt)

Approx. 40 percent of Germans volunteer in their spare time.

Approx. 40 percent of Germans volunteer in their spare time. It is all about a good cause. Payment is not expected. Giving support, when necessary, is the incentive for the volunteers. The government also takes this commitment into account. So it’s time to look at this honorary post with regard to the income tax return.

Volunteers in society (Ehrenamt)

Whether in church associations, sports clubs, the fire department, social or cultural institutions - there are numerous opportunities to do volunteer work (Ehrenamt). The incentive is not money, but simply the meaning behind it. Without voluntary help, little would work in our society. Politicians also ensure that volunteering does not lose its attractiveness. That’s why there is the volunteer allowance (Ehrenamtsfreibetrag), which is also referred to as a volunteer flat rate (Ehrenamtspauschale). Volunteers can receive € 720/yr. as an expense allowance on their tax return (Steuererklärung). Social security contributions (Sozialabgaben) or taxes are not due up to this amount.

What many do not know is that instructors can benefit from a lump sum (Pauschale) of € 2,400. This refers primarily to educational activities.


  • Choirmaster
  • Trainer
  • Instructor
  • Lecturer

Note: The instructor’s fee can’t be combined with the volunteer flat rate (Ehrenamtspauschale) if only one job is available.



Voluntary work (Ehrenamt) is regarded as part-time employment (nebenberufliche Tätigkeit), if not more than one-third of the time is used for what the actual main occupation claims. The volunteer allowance (Ehrenamtspauschale)has no requirements that determine which activities are accepted.

The only thing that matters is that the work takes place within the framework of an association or a non-profit organization. This can, for example, be retirement homes, nursing homes, religious communities, youth hostels etc Altenheime, Pflegeheime, Religionsgemeinschaften, Jugendherberge). On the other hand, economic activities are not considered voluntary. The same applies to active athletes.

In principle, beneficiary activities include:

  • Office worker in a business office
  • Property manager
  • Serviceman
  • Cleaning staff
  • Groundskeeper
  • Executive Manager
  • Youth leader
  • Trainer

Non-beneficiary activities include

  • Sale of food at events
  • Sales of sporting goods
  • Organizing events for which admission is taken
  • Acquisition of business partners


Who benefits from the volunteer allowance (Ehrenamtspauschale)

Only those who are active in the service of a public-law or non-profit-making body are entitled to the voluntary allowance (Ehrenamtspauschale). These are primarily community colleges, universities, schools and vocational colleges. Non-profit corporations are sports clubs and sports associations. The honorary office must also take place in a charitable, benevolent or church context (gemeinnützig, mildtätig or kirchlich).

Non-profit funding is (gemeinnützig)

  • Aid for juveniles and the elderly
  • Animal welfare
  • Protection of historic buildings and monuments
  • Historic preservation
  • Promotion of equal rights for women and men

General support (mildtätig)

  • Assistance that improves the mental, emotional or physical condition of a person or their economic situation

Eligible church tasks (kirchlich)

  • Religious education
  • Administration of church property
  • Sermon services


This saves additional taxes

  • Combination of volunteer allowance (Ehrenamtsfreibetrag) and trainer flat rate (Übungsleiterpauschale)
  • Combination of mini-job and volunteer allowance (Ehrenamtsfreibetrag)
  • Deduct expenses for volunteering for tax purposes
  • anyone who refrains from salary can state this as a donation as part of the special expenses (Sonderausgaben)
  • Indicate income from voluntary work (Ehrenamt) as “sonstige Einkünfte” and make full use of the exemption limit (Freigrenze)