Germany introduces Internet Tax

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 20, 2006
Updated • May 15, 2013

Please read on this is a funny story, I promise you that. Germans pay about 19$ a month if they own a television. This fee was introduced right after the war to subsidize state independent TV stations that would not require payments from the German state. Only a couple of stations were available right after the war and it made sense to make sure that TV could not be used by the state to manipulate the population.

Nowadays you have dozens of TV stations but you still pay the money for those state independent ones. All private stations in Germany do not get part of the money, and what may be even worse, most high level positions in the administration are occupied by politicians of ruling parties in Germany.


The funny thing about this tax is that you have to pay if you own a TV, it does not matter if you are actually watching the stations that get the money. So, even if you would use your TV exclusively for DVDs and video games you would have to pay the 19$ a month.

It was decided a few years ago to charge anyone who has a PC with an INTERNET connection as well which means if you do not have a TV you still have to pay if you have a PC with INTERNET connection (who does not ?) because you could view the very limited streams that those TV stations offer on their website.

It begins to get funny right now. If you run a business you have to pay for private and business use which means you pay for a private TV and for your PC with Internet connection at work. You would also pay for your mobile if it is capable of that.  Oh, did I mention that you also pay if you run a dedicated server somewhere? Yeah that is right, you pay those fees because the dedicated server is connected to the Internet.

It does not matter that you do not have physical access to the server nor that there is no monitor to watch the streams if you would make it into the secured server room.

The most disturbing aspect of this Internet tax is that you have to pay because you could watch the streams on the Internet pages, you do not pay because you do. Does anyone else think this is kinda weird? What is happening in your country, do you have similar experiences ?

Update: Germany has changed the system slightly starting January 1, 2013. All German households have to pay the monthly fee now regardless of whether they own a PC, television, radio or other mobile device or not. If you live in a cabin in the woods without electricity, you'd still have to pay.


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  1. Andrew said on March 26, 2007 at 5:03 am

    personally, I think those danish rates are pretty high… we in the UK pay about 140€ a year for colour tv, which obviously covers radio inclusively.
    It’s for the BBC which I consider to still be able to provide the UK and the rest of the world for that matter with some of the best programming around. Given that Channel 4 is state owned, while it also has advertising, they too may benefit slightly for the tv licence.
    The only continental news I have ever watched has been bloomberg, but found that format boring. I do know one important thing about the quality of BBC news; they pride themselves in having the most foreign correspondents permanently stationed around the globe.
    Considering the transfer from analog to digital, it is understandable that the licence rates here are rising to pay for this; lastly the increased interactivity is promising

  2. freedom said on March 8, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I came to know about this tax in Germany. This
    stupidity is not existing in so called ‘developing
    naton’, (they would go on strike).
    Germans should raise their voice, but suspect
    they will not. They are treated like bunch of
    sheeps by their idiot politicians and they like it?

  3. Markus said on October 23, 2006 at 9:30 am

    Hello Yakimo,

    I thought we´re unique with our GEZ :-)
    Seems, I´m wrong..

  4. Claudius said on October 22, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Hi there,
    im from germany as well, but i dont care much about this new fee. i heard this would only have to be payed if you dont have a tv or radio so far.

    greets from munich, u know where the okctoberfest is located

  5. Martin said on October 22, 2006 at 11:24 am

    Hi there from Germany!

    To make it short. I love my country and the GEZ.

    Because I live in a Country wich gives me the best and INDEPENDENT(!) News on this Planet.

    For that it is fairly litle money and even though I have to pay 50€ more, I would!

  6. yakimo said on October 21, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    Hello from Denmark!
    If you guys are wondering how it is in Denmark, I would say it is like in our neighbors. For now every household having TV/radio must pay license (per half year)

    Color TV – 1 045 Danish kroner = 140.16 Euro
    Black&White TV – 670 Danish kroner = 89.8 Euro
    Radio – 160 Danish kroner = 21.4 Euro

    From 1.Jan.2007 there is a decision to substitute the existing TV/radio license with so called “media license”, which in fact is the same, but including all other devices, that could receive kind of multi-media – computers (with internet or TV tuners), mobile phones and probably all existing and upcoming similar gadgets.

    Nowadays the authorities have a database with all the tv-radio owners and if you are not in there database, there are two possibilities:
    1) you are “black viewerâ€? – Once per while you get a mail from them, politely asking you to start paying. And of course they come at your home asking you whether you have forgotten to register you TV (thought the registration is automatic, if you buy a TV set from the shop. But you could buy it abroad ï?Š)
    That’s how it is here, in Denmark
    2) you don’t have TV/radio, but you have a computer. “We caught you (from 2007)�.
    It’s good that there is an exemption for some groups people like blind people.

    That’s how it is here, in Denmark

  7. Johny said on October 21, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    :( – I prey not every country starts doing this :(


  8. Estridente said on October 21, 2006 at 6:00 am

    It doesn’t have to do with the internet but in mexico we have a yearly tax for owning a car, doesn’t matter if it’s brand new or old as dirt, although the more recent the car the higher the tax will be, it was instituted so it would help fund the mexico olympics of 1968 after wich the tax would no longer be charged, however it’s still mandatory to pay to this day…

  9. Al Delacruz said on October 20, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    I complain and bitch about our politicians and their sillyness, but damn i’m glad i don’t have to deal with a TV/Internet tax.
    We just repealed an ancient telephone tax and will be receiving refunds.
    Hello from the US. :)

  10. Martin said on October 20, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    OK, officially it is a fee that you have to pay under certain circumstances for the possibility to watch tv over the internet.

    Due to the poorness of the service it looks more like a general tax for everyone who owns a company or has is not already paying the fee as a private individual. (If you own a company you have to pay for tv at home and for tv at work seperately, if you have no tv at home you have to pay the fee if you have a computer with possible access to the internet, which means every pc basically.)

  11. ENDB03 said on October 20, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    ich weiss auch das es keine steuer is markus…er hat es oben nur so beschrieben und ich bin der einfachheit eingestiegen- internetgeschädigt halt

    hes right its not a tax – yet not less anoying :)

  12. Markus said on October 20, 2006 at 3:09 pm


    Don´t mix it all, please…

    The GEZ-Fee is NOT a tax. If you don´t have any tv or radio, you have to pay 5,53 Euro for PC or mobile Devices.
    The fine, if you´ve been captured by GEZ is much higher. It depends on how long you are the owner of the device. If you dont know this, GEZ says fast and simple “20 Years or longer”. For this time you have ro pay. The fine could raise to 10.000 Euros and more.

  13. ENDB03 said on October 20, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    yeah fuck us…our country is ruled by even more retarded politicans than yours xD

    i dont have a tv or a radio cause all they broadcast here in germany sucks giant gorrilla no tax for me…till now :(
    the problem is we have an institution that checks your home for capable devices an if you have a tv/ radio (and now a pc) u pay a decent fine if you didnt pay the tax. its just 5€ or so but i think thats fubar….

    have a nice weekend & greetings from germany

  14. Kai said on October 20, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    TV tax is a silly concept to us American, but it’s fairly common in the EU.

    Here in the UK, TV license fees are accepted as given, and you get hassled (by mail) whenever you buy a new TV or PC-TV card.

    And I’d say it’s a concern for the US as well, but it will come from the telecoms industry rather than the television industry. (The Net neutrality debate.)

  15. Markus said on October 20, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    Hello Guys,

    Yes, we have a big problem here at Germany. The GEZ (, this is the company which collects the money, want that for broken/not connected tvs and radios and for PCs without tv-cards, too! Their (stupi) reason: You can repair the tv or plug in a tv card anytime. Boring, I know.
    Another story: ARD and ZDF, the station GEZ collects for, are streaming exactly ZERO MINUTES in the web. Yes, you´re right. We germans have to pay for a thing which does´nt exist!
    Because we have Halloween sonn, here is a very spooky story on GEZ. After we´ve loosed our great Wall, GEZ gave Jobs to many Stasi-Agents – because they can spy people better. GEZ is a big brother which knows all data of german people (Birth day, Incoming,…)
    Folks who speak german can read the whole horror-story on Spiegel online. Type “Datenkrake GEZ” into a search machine like Google, and then – be afraid…

  16. sindre rolstad said on October 20, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Inhabitants of Norway and Sweden pay TV tax, but bureaucratic creativity has not yet reached the German level when it comes to internet taxes. It has been discussed in Sweden, but there are uncertainities regarding how to appy such taxation. BTW fantastic site – reading it on a daily basis.



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