The German Länder have implemented the Immediate Assistance Programme for own-account workers, small businesses, members of the free professions, and farmers. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry of Finance have reached an administrative agreement with the Länder. Bavaria, which is currently chairing the Conference of Minister Presidents of the Länder, coordinated the negotiations for the side of the Länder. The administrative agreement, complete with an enforcement guidance document for the Länder, puts in place all the necessary requirements for the programme to start. This means that applications for immediate assistance can now be made to the competent contacts in the Länder (see list below). Payments are to be made swiftly and without red tape.
The Federation and the Länder have jointly put in place the necessary requirements for quick applications for the coronavirus Immediate Assistance Programme and for quick payments, and have done so in record time. We are acting in response to the hardship faced by many small businesses, own-account workers, members of the free professions, and farmers who are in urgent need of this assistance. The application and payment process is to be swift and free from red tape. Up to €50 billion of federal budgetary funding can be accessed by the Länder for this purpose as of this Monday.Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier
The Federation and the Länder have acted very swiftly so as to be able to deploy the coronavirus Immediate Assistance Programme immediately. Own-account workers and businesses employing up to ten people can claim grants for their operational costs – a total of €50 billion has been set aside for this. The Länder can begin to access these funds as of tomorrow (Monday), so that the grants can be paid out quickly and without red tape. It is good that the Federation and the Länder are working so closely together to ensure that the assistance will quickly be available to those who need it.Finance Minister Olaf Scholz
Bavaria was the first mover to put in place an Immediate Assistance Programme. It is good that the Federation has now followed our lead and that we have brought the programmes together in the best interest of our firms. It is important that the people can access the money swiftly and without red tape. In Bavaria, we are currently working on an online application system that will be ready for use in a few days and help further speed up the process.Bavarian Minister for Economic Affairs Hubert Aiwanger
On 23 March 2020, the Federal Government approved an Immediate Assistance Programme with a budget of up to 50 billion euros to be made available to small businesses, own-account workers, members of the free professions, and farmers. The Bundestag and Bundesrat debated these Cabinet Decisions in the context of their deliberations on the supplementary budget. The entire package was approved by the Bundesrat on 27 March 2020. An administrative agreement that allows for the programme to be implemented and payments to be made was agreed by the Federation and the Länder on Sunday, 29 March. The federal funds have been made accessible to the Länder as of Monday, 30 March. This means that applications and payments can now be made.
In the following, you can find a short set of Q&A, i.e. as to who is eligible for immediate assistance and what data is required.
Key points of the administrative agreement: Who can file an application?
The administrative agreement and the enforcement guidance document provide a clear answer to this question and also specify where applications need to be filed. In summary:
- Eligible groups: own-account workers, members of the free professions, small companies (including farming businesses) employing up to 10 people (full time equivalents) that are conducting commercial operations on the market. These operations must take place in a domestic permanent establishment or the management must be headquartered domestically, and applicants must be registered with a German tax office.
- Scope of the immediate assistance: The immediate assistance is designed to uphold companies’ economic viability and bridge acute cash-flow problems caused by the coronavirus crisis. Companies and self-employed people from all sectors and employing no more than 5 people can claim a one-time grant of up to €9,000 for three months; companies employing up to 10 people can claim a one-off payment of up to €15,000, also for three months.
- Proof of cashflow problem caused by coronavirus crisis: Applicants must give assurance that they have run into economic difficulty because of the coronavirus crisis. Applicants must not have been in financial difficulty on 31 December 2019 already.
- Payment via the Länder: The Länder have taken on the role of implementing the programme and making the payments.
- Applications without red tape: The Immediate Assistance Programme is especially designed to be non-bureaucratic so as to ensure that payments can be made swiftly. However, all information given in the application must be correct! Providing false information may amount to subsidy fraud, which is punishable under criminal law. Soon, electronic application forms will be made available by the competent contacts in the Länder.
- Deadline for applications and payment: Applications must be filed with the competent Länder authority no later than 31 May 2020.
- Cumulation with other state aid; tax treatment: As a general rule, the financial assistance provided by the federal government can be combined with other aid. Any amount of over-compensation, however, must be reimbursed. In the interest of ensuring that recipient companies can fully benefit from the grant, it will not be taken into account for advance tax payments to be made in 2020. Whilst the grant is subject to taxation, this will only become relevant when the tax return for 2020 is submitted, i.e. no earlier than next year. The individual tax rate will only be applied to the grant if the recipient company posts positive earnings in 2020.