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Since the beginning of 2024, the register of recipients of donations has been online and accessible to the public in accordance with Section 60b of the German Fiscal Code (AO). It is a nationwide, central register of all non-profit organisations authorised to issue donation receipts (donation receipts). Political parties and independent voters' associations are also included. The Federal Central Tax Office is responsible for the register of donations.  

The aim: to simplify the deduction of special expenses for donations

The change has already been adopted by the 2020 Annual Tax Act and is intended to serve as a special expense deduction in accordance with Section 10b of the German Income Tax Act (EStG). In concrete terms, this means The aim is to increase transparency and simplify the tax deductibility of donations. 

What information does the beneficiary register contain?

In accordance with Section 60b AO, the state tax authorities transmit the following data of the organisations contained in the register to the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt): 

  • Business identification number  
  • Name and address 
  • Tax-privileged purposes  
  • Responsible tax office 
  • Date of issue of the last exemption notice or assessment notice in accordance with Section 60a AO 
  • Bank details  

Foreign organisations can be accepted

Foreign organisations from other EU/EEA countries can also be included in the register of beneficiaries upon application. However, the charitable status of an organisation abroad does not automatically result in corresponding recognition in Germany. 

Instead, foreign organisations must also fulfil the requirements of German non-profit law. This includes, in particular, the direct, exclusive and selfless pursuit of charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 52 AO, the legal form (corporation in accordance with the comparison of legal types) and the specific structure of the articles of association in accordance with the German model articles of association (Annex 1 to Section 60 AO). 

In practice, however, it should be noted that foreign organisations typically follow the law and also the customs of their country of residence. Although it should often be possible to draft articles of association that also fulfil the requirements of German law, such articles of association are usually not designed accordingly.

The question of whether, in the opinion of the tax authorities, the requirements were met and the donation deduction was permissible could previously only be assessed as part of the assessment procedure, i.e. after the donation had been made. If foreign organisations from other EU/EEA countries submit an application for inclusion in the register of donations, the time of assessment is shifted forward. For donors, this not only increases transparency but also legal certainty.

Nonetheless, it will regularly be necessary to amend the articles of association of such foreign organisations. If this is compatible with the law of your home country, it is recommended in any case if the organisation hopes to receive substantial donations from Germany.

Our experts will be happy to advise you on all questions relating to the Register of Beneficiaries and non-profit law. This applies in particular to the special features for tax-privileged organisations from abroad and questions regarding the cross-border deduction of donations.