Instead of a Basic Parental Allowance (Basiselterngeld), you can also receive Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus). It is only half as much, but it is paid for up to 24 months, which is twice as long as Basic Parental Allowance. Parental Allowance Plus is ideal, for example, if you would like to return to work soon after giving birth and work part-time. It gives you the opportunity to work up to 30 hours a week without having your parental allowance reduced straight away. In contrast, with Basic Parental Allowance, every euro you earn in addition is deducted. That means there's hardly anything left over from your earnings. It is best to contact your local parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) before you give birth. They can advise you on which variant of the parental allowance is best for you and what effect your income has on the amount you can receive. That's helpful because there's a lot to keep in mind when you're applying for a parental allowance (Elterngeld).
Depending on how much you earned before, your Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus) will be between €150 and €900 per month. In principle, you are entitled to half of the amount you would receive from Basic Parental Allowance (Basiselterngeld). If you have other young children in your household or care for a child with a disability, there may be an additional sibling bonus. In the case of Parental Allowance Plus, the minimum is €37.50 per month. You can expect an extra €150 per child per month if you have multiples. If you earn a lot during parental leave (Elternzeit), your Parental Allowance Plus may be reduced. This applies if your part-time income is higher than half the amount you earned on average before giving birth. Anything above this threshold will be deducted from your Parental Allowance Plus. Make sure that you do not work more than 30 hours per week, otherwise you will lose your entitlement to a parental allowance.
A special rule applies to employed mothers. You are on maternity leave for the first two months after giving birth. During this time, you cannot receive Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus) - only a Basic Parental Allowance (Basiselterngeld). If you receive maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsleistungen), they will be counted towards your parental allowance (Elterngeld). If the maternity benefits are higher than your parental allowance, you will only receive the maternity benefits. If the parental allowance is higher, the maternity benefits are topped up to this amount. At the earliest, you can switch to Parental Allowance Plus from the third month after giving birth on. In the case of a multiple or premature birth, you can only get Parental Allowance Plus starting from the month in which your child is no longer receiving maternity benefits.
The partner bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus) rewards parents who share the care of their child. You and your partner will receive an additional four months of Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus) if you work part-time for four months at a time. These extra months are called ‘partner bonus months’ (Partnerschaftsbonusmonate). The money you receive is the partner bonus. Each of you are individually entitled to it. So, you don't have to split those months. The condition is that you work at least 25 and at most 30 hours per week. This does not mean that you must work exactly 25 to 30 hours every week. However, calculated by, this must be the average. The partner bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus) will be between €150 and €900 per parent per month. The amount depends on your income before the birth and on how much you earn in the months during which you receive Parental Allowance Plus. Under certain circumstances, single parents can also benefit from the partner bonus.
In principle, you do not have to pay income tax or social security contributions on your parental allowance. However, at the end of the year, your income will be added to the parental allowance (Elterngeld). Based on the total amount, you will be assigned a tax rate to pay on your income. Since your parental allowance can often increase your tax rate, you should be prepared for the fact that you will have to pay part of the tax. Unfortunately, many parents do not think about this and experience a nasty surprise when they receive the request for payment of back taxes. So, it's best to always set aside a portion of your earnings straight away.
In certain cases, your parental allowance (Elterngeld) can be significantly increased by switching your tax class. If two parents are in a relationship, then the person planning to take the more extended parental leave (Elternzeit) should switch to tax class III (Steuerklasse III) as soon as possible. The other parent should choose tax class V (Steuerklasse V). This practice is not only very popular, but also completely legal. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. The strategy only works for married couples and those in registered civil partnerships. In addition, you must apply for the change at least seven months before the start of maternity leave. That means you should actually begin the process immediately upon getting a positive pregnancy test. In order to change your tax class, you and your spouse or legal partner must submit an application for a change of tax class for spouses/partners to the Taxation Authority (Finanzamt).