Skip navigation

Is there a rule of thumb for the most favorable tax class choice for working spouses/life partners?

Spouses/partners who are both employees can choose between the tax class combinations III/V or IV/IV or IV/IV with factor. In general, the following applies:

  • The tax class combination IV/IV (statutory rule; is automatically formed as ELStAM upon marriage) assumes that the spouses/partners earn the same amount and therefore leads to an equal wage tax deduction for both spouses,
  • The tax class combination III/V is designed in such a way that the sum of the tax deduction amounts for both spouses/life partners roughly corresponds to the joint annual tax if the spouse/life partner with tax class III earns 60% and the spouse/life partner with tax class V 40% of the joint earned income. As a result, the tax deduction for tax class V is proportionally higher than for tax classes III and IV. This is also due to the fact that in tax class V the basic allowance for the minimum subsistence level is not taken into account, but is doubled in tax class III. If the ratio of actual wages does not correspond to the statutory assumption of 60:40, this can result in back tax payments.
  • The tax class combination IV/IV in conjunction with the factor to be calculated by the tax office ensures that the basic tax-free amount applicable to each spouse/partner is taken into account when deducting income tax by applying tax class IV and that the income tax deduction is reduced by applying the factor of 0,. (always less than 1) at the same time in accordance with the effect of the splitting procedure. The factor is a tax-reducing multiplier that is calculated from the effect of the splitting procedure in the assessment if the spouses/partners have different wages.

Which combination is more favorable must be examined on a case-by-case basis. You can use the interactive tax calculator on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance to determine the income tax on your wages.


Further information can also be found in the Current Tip and in the Wage Tax Guide 2024.

This page uses cookies. You can find out more information about the General Data Protection Regulation under Data protection.