Property Law

Summer house declared second home for tax purposes

An administrative court in Germany has ruled that a summer house can be classed as a second home for tax purposes (Az.: 8 K 907/12). The judges held that the summer house falls within the definition of a second home laid down in Grünberg’s town constitution.

Summer house declared second home for tax purposes © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Auch eine Gartenhütte kann als Zweitwohnsitz steuerpflichtig sein © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Second home despite lack of a bedroom

The defendant owned a 30 – 40 m² summer house which boasted access to electricity and water as well as a living room with kitchenette, a storage room and a toilet.

The court was tasked with answering the question whether such a summer house could be classed as a second home for tax purposes. If so, then a tax of 10% of the rentable value of the property would become due, which in this case was 161 euros.

The owner of the summer house defended the claim, arguing that the summer house did not contain any sleeping accommodation and therefore could not be used as an “apartment”.

Definition of second home

According to the Grünberg’s constitution, a second home is defined as “any apartment which a person owns in addition to their main residence which is used to fulfil personal living needs or the personal living needs of a family member”.

The court ruled that this definition should be interpreted broadly and found that the furnishings in the shed were sufficient to fulfil the specifications of a residence. The court noted that an extensive infrastructure or particular level of comfort is not required.

As a result the court found that a summer house can fulfil the definition of a second home.

Second home tax

In finding that a summer house is subject to a second home tax, this decision by the administrative court of Gießen is striking.

It may well be that this particular summer house was inhabitable as a result of its fixtures and fittings. However, it seems that an apartment under Grünberg’s constitution is more a property in which a person can reside for a certain length of time. It is doubtful whether the summer house in this case could be used for such an endeavour. This decision, therefore, is a questionable one.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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