(dated 1 October 2019)

1. What is the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?
2. What will the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture be used for?
3. What types of accommodation facilities are liable for the tax and what exceptions apply?
4. When is an accommodation facility necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?
5. Who is liable for the tax?
6. My stay is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons. As a guest, how can I demonstrate that I do not have to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?
7. As a guest, where do I need to submit the declaration regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation being necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?
8. What is accepted as proof that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?
9. How can employees provide proof that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?
10. Which variants of the employer’s certificate exist, and what do they have to include? a) What is the required form of the employer’s certificate in writing? b) Under what circumstances can an explicit employer’s certificate be dispensed with? c) Is a business trip application valid as an employer's certificate? d) Can the employer's certificate for groups also be issued in the form of a summary certificate? e) Will it suffice as an employer's certificate if the employer affixes a company stamp on the form for employed persons and signs it? f) Can the employer's certificate be issued on a quarterly basis? g) Is it also possible to send the employer's certificate to the accommodation establishment online? 11. I am a freelancer or a trader. What proof will be accepted in my case?
12. What are other circumstances under which accommodation is considered necessary for work-related mandatory reasons? What proof can I submit in these cases?
a) Overnight stays for students
b) Overnights stays for visiting scholars
c) Attendance of owners meetings
d) Attendance of shareholder meetings
e) Attendance of job interviews
13. May a modified form be used instead of the official form for the accommodation guest's declaration?
14. May fields be left blank or cancelled in the official form?
15. I regularly book to stay in the same accommodation. Do I have to submit the declaration regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation being necessary for work-related mandatory reasons for each individual stay, or does completing it once suffice?
16. Are school trips liable to tax? 17. Which accommodations are exempt from the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture because they serve to fulfill basic living needs?
a) Homeless/asylum seekers
b) Temporary uninhabitability of an apartment
18. Are severely disabled persons exempted from paying the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?
19. Are citizens of Cologne obliged to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?
20. How is the tax assessed?
21. Is the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture subject to value added tax?
22. How will the assessment basis be calculated of more persons use the service jointly (for example in a double room)?
23. How will the tax be collected?
24. Where can I find official forms for the tax declaration?
25. Will the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture also be levied on cancellation charges?
26. Is overnight accommodation which is not taken still liable for tax (no shows)?
27. What is the basis for assessment of the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture if the accommodation is booked via a booking platform or an event organiser?
28. Will the accommodation facility check the declarations they receive? And who is responsible if any guest provides incorrect information?
29. What should a hotel do if a guest refuse to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?
30. May guests apply for a refund of the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture with the City of Cologne?
31. Is a “Refund Claim” form available?
32. Are hotels allowed to provide a refund retrospectively?
33. What is the legal basis on which personal data of guests will be collected?
34. Does the request for declarations stating that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons violate the provisions of data protection?
35. What is the legal basis for the tax?
36. Where can I get information by telephone on the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

1. What is the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

Cologne is equally attractive as an economic hub, congress city and cultural location for visitors. Congresses and conventions choose Cologne because our city has a lot to offer in terms of culture as well. The tax for the promotion and advancement of culture contributes significantly in supporting the development of Cologne's cultural landscape, solidifying Cologne as a city of culture.

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2. What will the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture be used for?

The income to be expected from the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture – practically as “consideration“ – will be allocated to the areas of culture, education and tourism without incurring any obligations in these areas.

The objectives for using the tax are therefore in line with the name given to it.

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3. What types of accommodation facilities are liable for the tax and what exceptions apply?

By levying the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture, a tax is charged on the expenditure of the guest for being given the option to be accommodated in an accommodation facility (hotel, inn, boarding house, private room, hostel, holiday apartment, motel and on campsites, boats and similar facilities).

The tax is only levied on accommodation charges exceeding the basic need of being accommodated. For example, accommodation in a hotel necessary to avoid homelessness is exempted from the tax (see section 17). The expenses for accommodation will not be liable to the tax when accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons (see section 4).

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4. When is an accommodation facility necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?

According to a ruling by the Federal Administrative Court, the expenses for accommodation will not be liable to the tax when accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons.

This may be the case when the commercial/industrial or freelance profession cannot be performed and therefore income cannot be gained without the accommodation (work-related mandatory accommodation).

An accommodation is, for example, necessary for work-related mandatory reasons, if the place of residence of the guest is located in such a distance from the workplace that a daily commute seems unreasonable or if their presence in the City of Cologne is inevitable for their professional activities.

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5. Who is liable for the tax?

The overnight guest is liable for paying the tax thus the tax debtor.

The operator of the accommodation facility (for example the hotelier) is the person liable to forward the tax to the city, i.e. he must collect the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture from the overnight guest and subsequently forward it to the City of Cologne on the basis of a notice of tax assessment, unless the overnight guest declares in a legally binding manner that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons (see also section 4 and section 6).

If the person liable to pay the tax (hotelier) does not sufficiently fulfil their obligations to collect and pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture and to provide evidence thereof, they may be held liable in addition to the person that is liable to pay the tax (guest).

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6. My stay is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons. As a guest, how can I demonstrate that I do not have to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

By completing the official form

Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture

the guest declares that their accommodation is absolutely necessary for mandatory work-related reasons. This declaration must be supported by appropriate proof. Depending on the occupational group, there are a number of verification possibilities which are explained in detail in sections 8 to 12.

In the case of employees, their employer booking the accommodation and paying the accommodation facility suffices as proof.

Even in the case of self-paying employees, written proof of the declaration is not required if the employer has confirmed the mandatory work-related reason in the online booking process.

Please understand that the operator of the accommodation facility is obliged to collect the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture if this declaration has not been provided.

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7. As a guest, where do I need to submit the declaration regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation being necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?

The declaration must be presented to the accommodation facility, latest upon check-out. If this is not possible, the guest can apply for a refund of the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture with the Steueramt (Tax Office) of the City of Cologne (see section 30).

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8. What is accepted as proof that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?

The following documents may be enclosed with the accommodation guest's declaration both by employees and by freelancers/traders as proof that their accommodation is necessary for mandatory work-related reasons:

a) Trade visitor badge

b) Official accreditation with a work-related congress

c) Certificate issued by the educational institution confirming that the purpose of (further) training is necessary for mandatory work-related reasons

In special cases: Certificate from the organiser; prior consultation with the tax office is required.

The other possibilities of proof depend on the occupational group to which you belong (employee, freelancer or other). They are outlined in sections 9 to 12.

In the case of employees, their employer booking the accommodation and paying the accommodation facility suffices as proof.

Even in the case of self-paying employees, written proof of the declaration is not required if the employer has confirmed the mandatory work-related reason in the online booking process.

However, the declaration by the accommodation guest is indispensable. The submission of the declaration regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation being necessary for work-related mandatory reasons is voluntary but necessary if the intent is to establish an exemption from the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture.

Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture
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9. How can employees provide proof that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons?

Booking and paying through the employer

 In the case of employees, their employer booking the accommodation and paying the accommodation facility suffices as proof.

Booking through the employer with integrated employer’s certificate (online)

Even in the case of self-paying employees, written proof of the declaration is not required if the employer has confirmed the mandatory work-related reason in the online booking process.

Employer’s certificate

In the case of employees, a written employer's certificate may also be considered as proof. There are several sufficient possibilities, outlined in section 10 (Variants of the Employer's Certificate). In addition, employees can also choose one of the forms of proof mentioned in sectioned 8. In no case, however, the declaration by the accommodation guest is indispensable. The submission of the declaration regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation being necessary for work-related mandatory reasons is voluntary but necessary if the intent is to establish an exemption from the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture.

Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture
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10. Which variants of the employer’s certificate exist, and what do they have to include?

10. a) What is the required form of the employer’s certificate in writing?

A written, personally signed employer's declaration, stating the name of the accommodation guest, the accommodation period and the name and address of the employer, is recognised as proof. The employer's certificate may only refer to one employee, as it is part of the employee's tax return. An example of an

employer's certificate

can be found on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture's website under "Forms for Guests".

The employer's certificate may also be faxed. Digital signatures are not acceptable.

As part of the guest’s tax declaration, the employer's certificate must be in German.

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10. b) Under what circumstances can an explicit employer's certificate be dispensed with?

In the case of employees, their employer booking the accommodation and paying the accommodation facility suffices as proof.

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10. c) Is a business trip application valid as an employer’s certificate?

Yes and approved business trip application is valid as an employer's certificate.

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10. d) Can the employer's certificate for groups also be issued in the form of a summary certificate?

Yes. For reasons of simplicity, employers may, as an exception, issue a summary certificate for participants of tour groups whose accommodation is clearly made for work-related mandatory reasons. That certificate must state the names of the participants and the accommodation period. Each page of the certificate must contain the declaration that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons and the legally binding signature of the employer.

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10. e) Will it suffice as an employer's certificate if the employer affixes a company stamp on the form for employed persons and signs it?

Yes. The employer’s certificate can also be issued by affixing the company stamp alongside the employer’s signature on the form for employed persons.

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10. f) Can the employer's certificate be issued on a quarterly basis?

In the case of hotels where the same companies will commonly send the same type of employees for overnight stays which are necessary for exclusively work-related mandatory reasons (for example, purely “fitter” accommodation facilities), then it is sufficient to submit one employer’s certificate per quarter. The certificate must contain a list of all the relevant employees and the length of their stays. The hotel and the Steueramt (Tax Office) of the City of Cologne must check with each other beforehand so that there are no handling Problems. A similar type of ruling as the one for the “fitter” accommodation facilities is one where employers such as the Deutsche Bahn AG, the airlines or the federal army, book a contingent of rooms for a large number of employees and where the actual names of the persons requiring accommodation are not known at the time of booking. Here too, it is advisable to contact the Steueramt (Tax Office) of the City of Cologne beforehand.

However, the declaration by the accommodation guest is indispensable!

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10. g) Is it also possible to send the employer's certificate to the accommodation establishment online?

Yes. If the employer books (personally or via a business customer portal) for the guest and confirms in the booking text that the accommodation is absolutely necessary for work-related mandatory reasons, this suffices as proof.

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11. I am a freelancer or a trader. What proof will be accepted in my case?

Freelancers/traders can indicate on the declaration form which tax office they are registered with for income tax purposes as proof of their declaration. Alternatively, they can enclose the documents mentioned in section 8 with their declaration.

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12. What are other circumstances under which accommodation is considered necessary for work-related mandatory reasons? What proof can I submit in these cases?

12. a) Overnight stays for students

A student’s overnight stay is not subject to tax if the overnight stay is absolutely necessary for participation in compulsory study events.

This is the case, for example, when attending the attendance phase or taking an examination at the University of Cologne. Suitable documents (e.g. certificate of attendance) must be submitted as proof.

In addition, the official form “Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture” must be completed in full.

Refer to the section "I am a freelancer or trader".

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12. b) Overnight stays for visiting scholars

An overnight stay by a visiting scholar, researcher etc. from abroad who earns a wage at an university in Cologne, is not subject to tax if the overnight stay is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons. Suitable documents from the university must be submitted as proof.

In addition, the official form “Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture” must be completed in full. Refer to the section "I am a freelancer or trader" if applicable.

Official form regarding the accommodation’s necessity for work-related mandatory reasons (§ 7 paragraph 2 of the Statute on charging a tax for the promotion and advancement of culture] (shortly referred to as: KFA-Satzung))

Official form regarding the accommodation’s necessity for work-related mandatory reasons (§ 7 paragraph 2 of the Statute on charging a tax for the promotion and advancement of culture] (shortly referred to as: KFA-Satzung))
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12. c) Attendance of owners meetings

In the case of attendance of an owners meeting or inspection of premises, the invitation to the owners meeting or a comparable document will suffice as proof.

The property must be clearly and correctly identified in this document.

In addition, the official form “Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture” must be completed in full. Refer to the section "I am a freelancer or trader" if applicable.

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12. d) Attendance of shareholder meetings

In the case of attendance of a job interview, the invitation to the job interview will suffice as proof.

In addition, the official form “Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture” must be completed in full. Refer to the section "I am a freelancer or trader" if applicable.

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12. e) Attendance of job interviews

In the case of attendance of a job interview, the invitation to the job interview will suffice as proof.

In addition, the official form “Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture” must be completed in full. Refer to the section "I am a freelancer or trader" if applicable.

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13. May a modified form be used instead of the official form for the accommodation guest's declaration?

Principally no. No supplements or modifications are permissible as this is an official form.

Exceptionally, in the cases mentioned under points 12 a) - e) (students, visiting scholars, attendance of owners meetings, shareholder meetings, job interviews), the field for freelancers or traders may be used to insert a corresponding reference to the occupational group (e.g. student).

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14. May fields be left blank or cancelled in the official form?

Only forms that have been completed, in full, will meet the prerequisites for an exemption from the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture. The form will be deemed not fully completed if fields are left blank or were cancelled.

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15. I regularly book to stay in the same accommodation. Do I have to submit the guest’s declaration regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation being necessary for work-related mandatory reasons for each individual stay, or does completing it once suffice?

The guest’s declaration must be presented for each individual stay. That also applies to recurring accommodations made on a regular basis (for example to persons making recurring bookings for themselves). Otherwise, the accommodation facility must charge the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture.

For example, if any guest stays in a hotel for 7 days, but only 5 days thereof for mandatory work-related reasons and 2 days for private reasons, the guest may only submit the declaration prescribed under Art. 7 (2) of the KFA-Satzung for the period of 5 days. The tax for the promotion and advancement of culture must be charged for the 2 days for which no declaration has been presented.

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16. Are school trips liable for tax?

Basically, yes. Trips which are organised privately by pupils or their parents outside of normal school-time (e.g. class trips in the final year of school) are classed as private overnight accommodation expenses and are taxable.

Exceptionally, however, an overnight stay by pupils is not subject to tax if the trip is mandatory, i.e. prescribed by educational regulations. Evidence of this must be brought by means of a group collective certificate issued by the school headmaster stating the names of the participants and the reason for the trip.

Exceptionally, in this case the guest’s declaration by the guest can be dispensed with.

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17. Which accommodations are exempt from the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture because they serve to fulfill basic living needs?

17. a) Homeless/asylum seekers

Accommodation for the homeless and asylum seekers serves to avoid homelessness and is not subject to taxation. It is irrelevant whether the accommodation is in a home for asylum seekers or refugees or in a lodging establishment. In these cases, the accommodated persons are not obliged to declare their accommodation. The declaration is handled by the accommodation provider.

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17. b) Temporary uninhabitability of an apartment

If the cost of accommodation arises because an apartment is uninhabitable (e.g. due to fire, water damage, renovations), it serves to fulfill basic living needs and is therefore not subject to taxation. A declaration by the guest, stating that the accommodation was necessary because of temporary uninhabitability of the apartment. A document that clearly identifies the uninhabitable property must be enclosed as proof.

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18. Are severely disabled persons exempted from paying the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

No. The Statute on Charging a Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture contains no regulation under which a tax exemption needs to be granted if certain conditions are met (for example a severe disability).

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19. Are citizens of Cologne obliged to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

Any guest who is unable to provide proof that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons must pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture.

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20. How is the tax assessed?

The tax rate is 5 percent of the amount paid by the guest for the accommodation, including value added tax (however excluding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture).

Example:

Assumed net price (excluding tax for the promotion and advancement of culture)100,00 Euro
7% value added tax on accommodation7,00 Euro
Assessment basis (net price plus 7% value added tax)107,00 Euro
Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture (5% of the assessment basis)5,35 Euro

 

Catering services and other services associated with the accommodation (for example minibar consumption, web usage, surcharge for pets) must not be included when determining the expenditure for accommodation.

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21. Is the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture subject to value added tax?

All questions concerning value added tax can only be dealt with between the company and the tax authorities.

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22. How will the assessment basis be calculated of more persons use the service jointly (for example in a double room)?

As the individual guest is liable to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture, the accommodation charge must be allocated to the individual persons. That is important for example if a family is travelling together, although only one member of the family must come to Cologne for work-related mandatory reasons.

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23. How will the tax be collected?

Basis for the calculation of the tax is a tax declaration which the person liable to forward the tax (hotel business) must file until the 15th day after the end of a calendar quarter in form of an officially prescribed form (Appendix 1 of the Statute).

Official form for accommodation facilities

A notice will be issued after completion of the tax declaration procedure. The assessed tax for the promotion and advancement of culture must then be paid to the Stadtkasse Köln [Treasury of the City of Cologne] within seven calendar days after it has been notified. The assessment period is the calendar quarter as specified in the provisions of the Statute.

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24. Where can I find official forms for the tax declaration?

The official form for the declaration on the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture is available for download on the internet presentation of the City of Cologne under the following link:

Official form for the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture Official form for accommodation facilities Zurück

25. Will the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture also be levied on cancellation charges?

No.

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26. Is overnight accommodation which is not taken still liable for tax (no shows)?

Yes. § 2 of the Statute on Charging a Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture in the City of Cologne (shortly referred to a KFA-Satzung) says that the object of the tax is the expense incurred by a guest for the possibility of a paid overnight stay in an accommodation facility. Whether the person actually stays in the accommodation facility is irrelevant and therefore overnight stays which are not taken and which are not cancelled beforehand are still subject to the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture.

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27. What is the basis for assessment of the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture if the accommodation is booked via a booking platform or an event organiser?

The amount paid by the guest for just the accommodation will be the basis for assessment even in these cases. A distinction must be made between the following two cases:

1. Payment of the accommodation price to the event organiser or the booking platform

(indirect payment to the accommodation facility):
In this case, only a part of the payment made by the guest will be forwarded to the accommodation facility. The remainder will be retained as commission. In this case, only the amount paid or forwarded by the event organiser to the accommodation facility (including value added tax) will form the basis of assessment for the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture, however not the retained commission.

2. Payment of the accommodation price by the guest to the accommodation facility

(direct payment to the accommodation facility):
In this case, the accommodation facility will forward a commission to the booking platform or the event organiser for introducing the guest. The (entire) amount paid by the guest to the accommodation facility (including value added tax) will then form the basis of assessment for the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture.

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28. Will the accommodation facility check the declarations they receive? And who is responsible if any guest provides incorrect information?

If the guest declares that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons, the accommodation facility must retain this declaration and present it to the Steueramt [Tax Office] of the City of Cologne upon their request. The guest is responsible for the truthfulness of the information.

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29. What should a hotel do if a guests refuse to pay the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

This situation compares to a case where guests refuse to pay the value added tax. If the services are still provided to such guests, the facility must still forward the value added tax.

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30. Können Beherbergungsgäste bei der Stadt Köln die Erstattung der Kulturförderabgabe beantragen?

The guest may file an application for a refund of the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture with the City of Cologne. The tax will be refunded if the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture has been charged by an accommodation facility and paid to the City of Cologne, although the accommodation was legally not subject to the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture. The legal basis for that procedure is Art. 11 of the KFA-Satzung (guest’s declaration to the city). The relevant receipts, in particular the declaration that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons (Art. 7 (2) sentence 2 of the KFA-Satzung) shall be attached to the application.

The relevant forms are available for download under the following links:

Guest's Declaration on the Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture
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31. Is a “Refund Claim” form available?

No, there is no official form available; a simple application in writing, with proof, in particular the guest’s declaration on the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture or the accommodation’s necessity for work-related mandatory reasons attached, must be submitted.

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32. Are hotels allowed to provide a refund retrospectively?

The accommodation facility may provide refunds before they submit the tax declaration to the City of Cologne (§ 7 of the KFA-Satzung), such refunds must then be taken into account in the tax declaration.

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33. What is the legal basis on which personal data of guests will be collected?

In accordance with the case law of the Oberverwaltungsgericht Nordrhein-Westfalen [Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia], the guest and not the operator of the hotel is the person liable to pay the tax in North Rhine-Westphalia, in contrast to the legal situation in other federal states. Accordingly, the guest, being the person liable to pay the tax, must file the relevant tax declaration evidencing that their accommodation is not liable for the tax.

They may make this declaration on a voluntary basis, but it is necessary to avoid payment of the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture. The guest needs to provide personal data, such as e.g. their date of birth to ensure a unique identification of the tax debtor.

This information is required to validate the declaration and to be able to initiate the necessary steps in case of an incorrect declaration.

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34. Does the request for declarations stating that the accommodation is necessary for work-related mandatory reasons violate the provisions of data protection?

No.

The provisions of the Data Protection Act NRW (DSG NRW), the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG), the provisions of the EU (European Union) as well as General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO) are complied with.

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35. What is the legal basis for the tax?

The legal basis for the tax is the Satzung zur Erhebung einer Kulturförderabgabe im Gebiet der Stadt Köln [Statute on Charging a Tax for the Promotion and Advancement of Culture in the City of Cologne] dated 18 November 2014 (shortly referred to as: KFA-Satzung) in a 2. amended version dated 8 September 2019. The KFA-Satzung was published in the Amtsblatt [Municipal Gazette] of the City of Cologne, no. 48, dated 19 November 2014, page 997 et seq. and applies to all accommodation services rendered for consideration after 30 November 2014.

The Statute itself is based on Sec. (Section) 105 Para. (Paragraph) 2a of the Grundgesetz [German Constitution] (GG) in conjunction with § 7 of the Gemeindeordnung [Municipal Code] (GO) and § 2 of the Kommunalabgabengesetz für das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen [Local Tax Act for the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia] (KAG). The tax for the promotion and advancement of culture is levied as a direct local expenditure tax.

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36. Where can I get information by telephone on the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture?

We have established a hotline for questions regarding the tax for the promotion and advancement of culture. We will provide you with expert information on the new tax under telephone number +49 221 / 221-96913 Mondays to Fridays from 8 am to 12 pm and Tuesdays from 2 pm to 3.30 pm.

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