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Tax on dangerous dogs declared unacceptably high

For dog owners in Germany, the dog tax is a vexatious topic. For years, it has been discussed whether the tax violates fundamental rights and should therefore be abolished. A court in Germany has now ruled that the tax applied to dangerous dogs is unacceptably high.

Tax on dangerous dogs declared unacceptably high ©-ferkelraggae-Fotolia-Fotolia_31081868_XS

Tax on dangerous dogs declared unacceptably high ©-ferkelraggae-Fotolia-Fotolia_31081868_XS

Dangerous dog tax

For years, it has been discussed whether the German dog tax violates fundamental rights and should therefore be abolished.

It is also hotly debated whether it is fair to apply a higher tax rate to dangerous dogs. This leads owners of dangerous dogs to feel discriminated against, as they are required to pay a higher rate of tax than owners of other breeds of dog.

In a recent case, the administrative court in Trier had to decide whether the 1,500 euro yearly tax applying to dangerous dogs is justifiable (judgment from 13.02.2014, case ref. 2 K 637/13).

The court came to the conclusion that while distinguishing between breed and dangerousness of dog is consistent with the constitution, the level of tax applied here was unacceptable.

The high tax rate was for many dog owners equivalent to a prohibition on dog ownership, the court stated. In addition, the court views the difference between the standard €60 dog tax and the €1,500 tax as disproportional.

Cost of upkeep of dangerous dogs

The judges also found it disproportional that the tax rate on dangerous dogs exceeds the average cost of upkeep.

The court determined that the average cost of keeping a dog in Germany is a maximum of €1,000.

In the court’s opinion, the €1,500 dangerous dog tax is unacceptable as the desired purpose of generating income through tax is overshadowed and the primary impression is that the intention is to create a prohibition on owning dangerous dogs. If this would continue, it would mean that municipalities would be exceeding their competence. Ultimately, municipalities lack the authority to introduce a prohibition on dangerous animals.

Christian Solmecke ist Partner der Kanzlei WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE und inbesondere in den Bereichen des IT-, des Medien- und des Internetrechts tätig. Darüber hinaus ist er Autor zahlreicher juristischer Fachveröffentlichungen in diesen Bereichen.

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