#134: Kotti cops, €29 tix, Gorillas, e-fire engine
Property tax reminder!
Dear 20 Percent,
This intro is for you Berliners who own property in Germany. Those of you who never bought a flat in Berlin or a half-ruined, almost worthless “weekend” house in an unattractive area of Brandenburg (as I did — long story!) can briefly savour some Schadenfreunde.
Members of the property owning class (flats, houses, plots of land, etc.), here’s your final reminder to fill out and submit your Grundsteuererklärung or land tax declaration (here’s a decent explainer in English).
CORRECTION: Intially, we wrote that the deadline was December 31. As 20% Berlin reader James pointed out in the comments, the deadline has been extended once more until the end of January 2023. My apologies. Didn’t mean to scare you! And thank you, James!
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the Grundsteuererklärung, here’s the lowdown: the old land tax regime was based on property values from 1964. The German state feels it could get more tax based on current values.
Earlier this year, there was a mandatory survey on various aspects of your property: address, the year of construction, and some obscure numbers from the official land registry. For the Grundsteuereklärung owners have to fill out basically the same information again — plus some stuff about the size of rooms. Doppelt gemoppelt, as the Germans same. Why should I have to provide the government with info that is freely available on the internet? TWICE? Probably something to do with DATA PRIVACY or Germany’s COMPLEX FEDERAL/STATE STRUCTURES — the two most common excuses for institutional incompetence in this country.
Give yourself half a day. Even Germans need that long, according to a thing I saw on RBB. If you haven’t the stomach or the time, get thee to a Steuerberater.
Once it’s sent it in, kick back and relax. For two years. That’s how long it will take the Finanzämter to come up with new tax bills for the country’s 32 million property owners. I’m guessing it will take longer.
I have to admit I was pretty sloppy with my Grundsteuererklärung, leaving out some information about my half-ruin in Brandenburg I just couldn’t find. In my experience, German authorities are pretty lax about gaps in forms and usually let them slide or get back to you a year later. Don’t quote me on that.
More news below!
P.S. See you at our Christmas party!!!
Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, December 13
New cases in one day: 2,499 (1,524 Friday)
Total deaths: 5,176 (+21 over Friday)
➡️ 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 240.1 (217.1 Friday)
➡️ 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 19.6 (16.9 Friday)
➡️ Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.8% (5.0% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
E-fire engine wreck
Berlin’s only all-electric fire engine — also the world’s first! — was damaged in a collision with a car on Alexanderplatz on Saturday, according to RBB. A six-year-old girl who was a passenger in the car, which had diplomatic plates, sustained serious injuries in the crash and was hospitalised, as was a fireman. The e-firetruck cost €1.8m and has been deployed 1,600 times since it went into use two years ago.
Kotti cop shop
The police will open up a mini-cop-shop on Kottbusser Tor, famed for its petty crime and hard drug scene, at the start of February, Berlin interior affairs minister Iris Spranger (SPD) told the Abgeordnetenhaus (state parliament) on Monday. The €3.5m station will be housed in that section of the famous NKZ building that spans Adalbertstraße. Lino Hunger, a member of the Kotti für Alle alliance which opposes the police station, told taz in March that the boosted police presence could mean more repression and racial profiling — and could change Kreuzberg SO36 forever.
Will the €29 ticket be extended?
It depends on who you talk to but it seems that the €29 Berlin transport ticket — the one you had to buy a subscription for — will almost definitely be extended in January. BVG recommends NOT cancelling your subscription yet if you’re worried about the price going up in January. “We therefore strongly recommend waiting for the expected extension of the €29 promotion first,” a spokesperson said, according to Tagesspiegel. So what if you’ve already cancelled your subscription? It is already possible to “withdraw your cancellation via the chatbot in the likely event that the €29 promotion is extended.” Yes, BVG has an English-speaking “service bot”, which is much friendlier than its ticket checkers.
Getir gobbles Gorillas
Consolidation was inevitable in this low-margin business: Turkish grocery giant Getir has bought its controversial Berlin competitor Gorillas for €1.2 billion. The combined group is being valued at €10 billion, reports Tech.eu. Since its beginnings during the pandemic, Gorillas has routinely treated its workers like crap, trying to deny them their basic rights under German labour law. Now, as thanks for their hard work, staff face another round of lay-offs. Meanwhile, according to people in the know, “the management around Gorilla's founder Kağan Sümer is receiving a deal bonus of €10 million.”
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Communist East Germany’s Intershop was founded on December 14, 1962 . The state-owned retail chain’s sole purpose was to suck in as much-needed hard western currency from visiting West Germans as possible. The first outlets were mobile carts in Friedrichstraße station selling Western cigarette brands tax-free — far cheaper than in West Berlin. Intershop accepted only western deutschmarks, US dollars, Swiss francs or pound sterling. The retailer eventually set up stores selling Western consumer goods like Braun shavers in hotels and border crossings across East Germany. An unintended consequences of the Intershops was that they gave East Germans a taste for superior western consumer goods.
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