Information overload

The last few days have been spent slowly and painfully trying to gether information on unemployment benefit II and how to get started as a freelance translator in Germany.

As far as freelancing is concerned I am clear on only two things.
1) Before I start I have to get a tax number to put on my bills
2) Doing my taxes at the end of the year will suddenly become a lot more complicated, which is nice considering I haven’t done my taxes for last year yet because the forms confused me.

And the more I learn about unemployment benefit II the less I want to actually have to apply for it.
Apparantly I’m allowed to earn up to 100 euros on the side while claiming unemployment benefit II (or ALG II, which is what the Germans call it and which is soo much easier to type). Any more than 100 euros and they start taking bits of it off me. This counts for all other types of what they consider “income” as well. For example, if I were to get money back from the electricity company that would be income. And if I ever do actually get round to doing my taxes, which would result in my travel expenses being paid back, that too counts as income.

Also, if the boyfriend wants to give me money… to help with the rent for example, and the employment agency sees that money from him is going into my bank account they will assume that I have a partner who is able to support me financially and am lying about the fact that I live alone to try and get more benefits out of them. Either that or they’ll decide it must be “income” from a source that I didn’t bother to tell them about, in which case they will again take bits of it off me (if I’ve understood the German correctly I get 20% taken off me for any income between 100 and 800 euros). I’m not sure what they would do if someone gave me cash which I then went and paid into my bank account… probably drag me in to question about this cash that I apparantly had lying around but didn’t declare on their form (yes, one of the forms actually has a section for you to declare how much cash you have. Huh?!).

As if losing your job wasn’t bad enough without all these complications. I don’t remember having half as much trouble getting job seeker’s allowance in England (which I did between finishing uni and going to Austria, just to get a bit of money in my pocket for the summer).
My advice to you all… do not become unemployed in Germany. Unless you’ve been paying your unemployment insurance for more than a year, in which case you’ll get unemployment benefit I which by all accounts is much less complicated.

4 thoughts on “Information overload

  1. Well if you’re not newly unemployed or stuggling to find out how to go freelance it’s actually quite nice. Plus it’s where Milka chocolate comes from… which almost makes up for the lack of walnut whips (the latest English thing that I’ve decided I have to have RIGHT NOW).

  2. That’s ridiculous. I mean it’s ridiculous how strict they are with this thing. Geez. I’d feel the same way you do.

    What is 100 euros anyway?! Not a damn lot. And they want to tax you for earning more than that on the side while unemployed?!

    Btw, I love Milka chocolates!

  3. incoherent – the logic (according to the boyfriend) is something like this: I would be spending that money on bills etc anyway so the unemployment agency has the right to take what I earn back off me becasue they are providing me with money to pay the bills. It probably makes loads of sense inside a German brain…
    Milka is indeed yummy. Unfortunately the boyfriend paid for the shopping yesterday which meant we bought no junk food WHATSOEVER. I am now stuck in a chocolate-less, crisp-less house, the boyfriend is still alseep despite the fact that it’s now 12:30 and all the shops are closed because today is a holiday.

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