New Laws and Regulations February 2017

Starting 1st February 2017, new laws will come into effect for German customers and tax payers. In summary, that subscription that you like very much will become more expensive while energy becomes cheaper, among others.


Tax Laws

Increase of Non-Taxable Limit for Moving Costs

Here’s some good news for those having to relocate due to work-related reasons. From this month onwards, the non-taxable limit for moving costs will be increased. The costs which accrue from work-related relocation can be declared in your tax declaration (Steuererklärung) under the non-taxable expenses (Werbungskosten).

For singles, the limit will now increase by 18 euros from 746 euros to 764 euros while for couples it increases by 31 euros from 1,493 euros to 1,528 euros. For each additional person living in the household the amount will increase from 329 euros to 337 euros.

If you are moving with a child, who ends up missing school due to the move and needs after-school classes to catch up with the rest, these costs can also be included in the non-taxable expenses up to a limit of 1926 euros.

The calculation is based on the day when the move is completed; this includes those who have their furniture offloaded at the new location on 1st February.


Traffic Laws

Mandatory Seat Belt for Wheelchair Users

From 1st February a fine will been introduced for wheelchair users who do not comply with the safety belt requirements. The law requires that both the wheelchair and the user be secured in a special restrain system. This has been in effect since June 2016 but will from this month attract a fine when not enforced. In the event of a violation, a fine of between EUR 30 and 35 will be imposed.


Consumer Laws

New regulation for skin creams

According to the Federal Government, the preservative methylisothiazolinone, which often causes allergies, will no longer be used in skin creams and lotions. The prohibition applies to all cosmetic products, which come on the market from February 12th.


Gas Prices come down

Gas consumers now have something to be happy about, namely the falling gas prices. A total of 354 primary suppliers had already lowered or announced lowering prices in the first quarter of 2017. As a result, some consumers will pay less for their gas consumption from 1 February. On average the price reductions amount to 6.5 per cent and will affect approximately 13 million German households.


Amazon Prime will be more expensive and will attract a Subscription Cost

Subscribers for the annual membership will from this month be expected to pay 69 euros as opposed to 49 euros. However, this new charges will at the beginning only affect new subscribers i.e. those who subscribe to this service starting from next month. If you already have the annual subscription you get a grace period of up to 30th of June 2017. If your contract with Amazon extended before 30th June, then you will only 49 euros while everyone whose contract ends after this date will extend at the new price.


Companies Obligated to Reveal Arbitration Bodies they work with

Disputes between customers and businesses are hardly avoidable. So far, affected persons have been able to turn to approved arbitration bodied to settle disputes.

As of 1 February, companies are legally obliged to state in their general terms and conditions whether they are participating in a dispute resolution procedure before a consumer arbitration body or not. Furthermore, they must indicate the address and the website of the arbitration body.
Online retailers must also provide the link to the European online dispute settlement platform.


New Federal Centre for Nutrition starts Operating 

The newly founded Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE) will start operations this month. The BZfE is part of the Federal Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (BLE) and will commence its mandate with around 50 employees. The task of the institution is to organise different types of information on the topic of food, and communicate it to consumers in a manner which is comprehensible.

To this end, the BFZE will provide teaching materials for schools on nutritional subjects. Additionally, the Center commits itself to a Healthy Nutrition for all – at home, at work, in the day care center and at school, in the workplace and in the elderly facility.

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