#236: Covid shots, dodgy security, holiday giving, international Finanzamt
That other €9 ticket
Dear 20 Percent,
Tis the season of giving, so I thought I’d name drop a few good causes in Berlin:
Give Something Back to Berlin, founded in 2013, offers a way for Berliners of all nationalities to volunteer for a good cause. Much of their work focuses on supporting refugees and migrants. They recently put out a lovely cookbook, The Feast: Stories and Recipes from Berlin’s Migrant and Refugee Tables. Donate here.
For those of you working in tech/start-ups: On December 10 the event Startups Unite - Raising funds for victims of war is being held to raise funds for children affected by war — specifically three aid projects for kids affected by the war in Gaza. Tickets to the event, which includes two panel discussions and some networking — are free, and you can donate here.
Another Gaza aid event: Collage Collective's Hanukkah Girl Group Gala benefit show at Marie Antoinette on Sunday features cover songs of “girl groups” past and present, with more than a dozen local acts on stage. Expect vegan latkes, DJ tunes and gin-and-tonikkahs. Free entrance but donations are encouraged — all proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.
More news below!
📣Shout out to our newsletter pals at Handpicked Berlin, a weekly collection of links and resources, thoughts and inspiration, related to jobs, tech, start-ups and survival in Berlin and Germany. 📣
The return of the €29 monthly public transport pass
The €29 monthly AB ticket will return in June and be renamed the Berlin-Abo (Berlin subscription), according to RBB. Our city-state’s current government promised to keep the €29 ticket, a spin-off of the wildly popular €9 ticket last year (see Factoid below), as part of its platform. Unlike its predecessor, you’ll have to sign up for an annual pass to get the €29 ticket. Ach, Germany: why does it always have to get more complicated? Simplicity is 🔥.
Covid shots encouraged
German health minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is urging people at risk of chronic illness to get booster vaccinations ahead of the holidays, when he expects an uptick in infections due to increased travel and family gatherings. “At the moment the danger posed by Covid is actually being underestimated,” he said. If you think you might need a Covid shot, ask your doctor.
Crackdown on refugee security
Police officers and customs officials raided the refugee welcome centre at ex-Tegel Airport Sunday night for spot checks on 183 security personnel at the facility, according to RBB. The cops reported 87 misdemeanors, such as proof of required background checks, and 55 workers were immediately suspended because they lacked proper credentials. A 2021 investigation found that companies run by “criminal networks” had been hired by the state to provide security for refugee homes.
Cop guilty of head kick
A Berlin police officer was sentenced to ten months probation after kicking a 22-year-old man in the head last May, according to T-Online. The man was already lying on the ground after a fight with several officers. The Tiergarten District Court found the 32-year-old cop guilty of assault in the line of duty and egregious bodily harm. He was ordered to pay €600 in restitution to the victim. The 22-year-old victim had attracted police attention after smashing a car windshield in Dahlem. In a sign that not all cops are … well, you know: The policeman’s colleagues at the scene reported the excessive violence.
Expat looking for a flat? Lean back while these guys hunt for you.
We've mentioned Get The Flat before, and now they're back as our sponsor. For only €62 / month, they look for matching flats and apply to them on your behalf as soon as they are online. The service, founded by ex-landlords, also crafts custom application letters (in German!) so you stand out from the masses and present your best self. Try it out!
New international tax office?
A “Finanzamt Berlin International” has opened up, according to RBB. Wow, a new team to help international Berliners sort out their tax issues? Alas, no. The new office is primarily there to go after foreign companies selling products on the German market but which haven’t been paying VAT. Chinese online shops, in particular, often avoid paying the tax, according to officials. The new department’s website isn’t particularly inviting and could probably use some info in English. Just sayin’.
Not sure if we’ve written about this before, but it’s the most Berlin thing ever. Is it entirely ethical? I’ll let you be the judge. After the €9 ticket scheme ended in summer 2022, a group of people linked to the oddball political party “Die Partei” got together and launched the “€9 Fund”. In a nutshell, people can become “members” by paying €9 a month into a “solidarity fund”. Then, if they get caught riding public transport without a ticket, they can pay the fine and the fund will refund them. The fund covers travel on trams, buses, U-Bahn and S-Bahn Germany-wide — but not DB regional trains (unlike the original €9 ticket). The organisers say they’ve paid 2,500+ fines. Before signing up, be aware that riding transport without a ticket is nonetheless a crime. More info in English.
Hey, all you Berlin businesses all there, need to advertise your wares this holiday season? We still have a few sponsorship spots available in December! The info.