At the end of the month there is not enough money left, but the desired salary increase seems far away? Then maybe you can negotiate tax-free extras. Which ones are there – and how to get them.

Especially in times of inflation, employees often notice that they can no longer get as far as usual or desired with their salary. For some employees, this also means: time for salary negotiations. But you don’t just have to think about a higher gross salary.

Another option is extras. Under certain circumstances, they can be negotiated more easily and sometimes even bring in more. A whole series are tax and social security-free for employees.

The classic among the tax-free extras is the job ticket, according to Daniela Karbe-Gessler from the German Taxpayers’ Association. “For this, the employer only needs proof from the employee of the existing subscription.” However, employees must note that the sponsored ticket costs later reduce the deductible travel expenses in the income tax return.

The job ticket is a good thing, says Karbe-Gessler. But it’s not the only option. “Another possibility are bicycles. Purchase and leasing must be done through the employer,” said the expert from the Taxpayers’ Association.

What many do not know: the extras are not mutually exclusive. The employer can grant the employee both a job ticket and a bicycle as an extra, says Karbe-Gessler. And in addition to grants for locomotion, other tax-free grants are also conceivable. These do not even have to be related to the activity.

“The employer can give the employee 50 euros a month in vouchers,” says Karbe-Gessler. Everything is possible, from vouchers for groceries to hairdresser and massage vouchers to vouchers for car repair shops. However, the following applies: “The services should be a classic branch business, because it gets complicated with online shops,” says the expert from the Taxpayers’ Association.

For example, vouchers and cash cards are only tax-free if their use is limited to certain shops and points of acceptance – or they can only be used to select from a specified range of products. For so-called open-loop cards, i.e. money cards that can be used anywhere, the preferential treatment will no longer apply since 2022.

Incidentally, companies can also grant their employees tax- and social security-free subsidies for language or computer courses that do not directly benefit the job.

Health insurance-certified health services can also be borne by the employer. If you take part in a course and then receive confirmation of participation, the employer can cover these costs as an extra – up to 600 euros a year per employee, says Karbe-Gessler.

Another tax-free extra that can be particularly worthwhile for parents: the childcare subsidy for children who are not yet of school age. There is no upper limit for the subsidy, which can cover part or all of the costs for a childminder, day care center or kindergarten. It can therefore mean greater relief for employees than a salary increase.

Since October 26, 2022, employers have also had the option of giving their employees a tax- and social security-free payment of up to 3,000 euros through the inflation compensation premium. The regulation applies until the end of 2024.

Whatever tax-free extra you have in mind, it must all be paid by your employer in addition to your salary. And they are a voluntary benefit of the company, there is no obligation to grant them. So how do you convince your superiors?

“With extras, there are no additional ancillary wage costs for the employer,” says salary coach and negotiation expert Claudia Kimich. That should be an important argument for many employers.

But one can also emphasize the practical advantages. “If I get money for childcare, for example, I can concentrate better on work, and if I get a tax-free bicycle from my employer, I’m fitter,” says the negotiation expert. “Both bring something to the employer.”

According to Kimich, there are also convincing arguments for health courses or further training such as a language course or membership in a gym.

When it comes to negotiations, however, she advises a clear order: “I always negotiate my salary first.” Only then should extras come up. After all, the salary is more important for the overall career and performance-related pay.

Nevertheless, arithmetic makes sense, according to the negotiation expert. For example, if there is hardly anything left after taxes have been deducted from a salary increase or if tax limits are exceeded that nullify the salary increase. Then tax-free extras can be worthwhile.

According to Stiftung Warentest, however, one thing should be noted: Unlike a conventional gross wage increase, you no longer pay into the statutory pension fund if you get tax-free extras. Ultimately, this is where the net wage is polished up.

There are more tax-free boss benefits here.