I am about to sign my first work contract in German and would like to know the exact meaning of a few terms I've encountered, in order to make sure I have understood everything correctly.

  • Persönliche Freibeträge - This came up in the context of tax brackets. Does it refer to the tax allowance from my Steuerklasse or to other extra tax allowances I might have?
  • "Die Schulbildung ist abgeschlossen/nicht abgeschlossen" - Does Schulbildung in this case refer to school level education or education in general? What would be the appropriate answer for a university student?
  • Pflichtversichert/freiwillig versichert - When is each of these terms applicable? As a university student, for example, I am required to have health insurance, but am free to choose which one. Does that qualify as obligatory?

Online translations of these terms don't come with detailed explanations, leaving the exact meaning/applicability unclear to German learners.

  • Lack of details is for a reeson. Besides simple translation every dictionary offers for these terms, this touches tax and legal matters and giving deeper advice without proper approbation is a minor offence. Every university(?) offers several help- and information services for foreign students and staff you can contact for counsel and advice on how stuff works. Pls. contact them or ask the employer for official contacts, some stuff needs really lengthy explanation.
    – user41853
    Jun 28, 2021 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


a) The Persönliche Freibeträge is also called Lohnsteuerfreibetrag. This is a type of preferential tax refund. In principle, it is assumed that at the end of the year you will be reimbursed a certain amount of taxes. Instead of applying for this at the end of the year, you apply for the Lohnsteuerfreibetrag and pay less taxes over the year.

The legal and tax background is a bit more complicated, so I won't go into it any further. However for example, if you drive to work every day by car, you could either receive a sum via the so-called Pendlerpauschale at the end of the year or keep it (as described) over the year.


b) Die Schulbildung ist abgeschlossen/nicht abgeschlossen ... it depends. Normally, "Schulbildung" only means normal schooling. Not a university. That would be "höhere Schulbildung".

It depends on the job. If it is a summer job that is also suitable for students, then it is the first one. In this case, however, I think that the question is whether you have already graduated from university.

c) Pflichtversichert/freiwillig versichert - In Germany, all citizens are obliged to have health insurance and there are two types: Gesetzliche und private Krankenversicherung. Most people are "pflichtversichert" and have a "Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung.

Only "Freiwillig Versicherte" can choose whichever type they want. These are mostly self-employed, civil servants or people with high incomes. However, this also applies to students older than 30. Nevertheless I assume that you are "Pflichtversichert".

Source and more explanations about the differences.

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