Monday, July 30, 2012

Bend over for the taxman

Behind the water tower

It's been about a month now and that means it's finally time for a payday.  While in the states people usually get payed every 2 weeks or bimonthly, here in Germany, payday is once per month... and in reference to the post title, German taxes... OUCH!!  I knew taxes in Germany were high but after finding some tax rate calculators on the internet I had come to the expectation that I would be receiving more than I actually did.  The tax calculators were pretty accurate in determining the income tax, but what I failed to realize was that much much more is taken out aside from the income tax.  So how much did I lose?  A fleshy 40% chunk of my gross pay (commence cringing).  The taxes are broken down such that 21% can be attributed to income tax / reunification tax.  About 8% is for nursing and health care insurance, and the final 11% is for pension and unemployment insurance.  As a result it doesn't really feel like I'm making significantly more than when I was a poor grad student.  It feels a little disappointing.

Other unrelated things of note, I had milk rice as mentioned in the previous post.  It's pretty much as I imagined and described, essentially tapioca pudding with cinnamon & sugar.

Energy drinks seem to be popular around here with 10000 different varieties in the shops that I've never seen or heard before.  One interesting drink in particular was Red Bull Cola which apparently existed briefly in the States at some point but was later dropped from the US market and is currently primarily marketed in Germany and Austria.  It tastes like a cola with a twist that's hard to describe, having a somewhat earthy or raw essence to it.  I thought it was interesting that coca leaves are listed in the ingredients.  However, the alkaloids are only present in trace amounts.

Germans have an interesting way of drinking beverages with food as well--or perhaps they're just more decidedly classy than their American counterparts.  The difference is that if you were in the States eating at a food joint, cafeteria, or what have you and you bought a soda can / bottle / water / etc. you would likely open the drink and pour it straight into your mouth--lips to can.  In Germany I've noticed people will also get a small glass with which to pour their drink and drink from--lips to glass.  It's just somewhat humorous to see people with their 300 ml (10 oz) drinks pouring into tiny glasses several times to quench their thirst as opposed to drinking straight from the source until satisfied--but to each their own I guess.

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