Germany: Wage tax: Glasses may be provided tax free, subject to conditions

Posted on 10th January, 2009

Estimated reading time 2 minutes

The costs of employees' special glasses will be free of income tax and social security where:

  • a specialist carries out the eye examination;
  • the result of the examination is that the special glasses are required by the employee, such that the employer has the legal obligation to meet the costs of providing these; and
  • the prescription was issued before the glasses were bought. (R 19.3 Abs. 2 Nr. 2 LStR, § 3 Abs. 2 Nr. 1 Abs. 3 ArbSchG, § 6 Abs. 1 BildscharbV).

The Senate Office of Finance Berlin has confirmed that a specialist means only a medical scientist, not an optician. This results in the rather bizarre situation that where an examination is undertaken by an optician, there is no legal obligation on the employer to meet the costs for the glasses.  In such circumstances, where the employer does meet these costs, the amount paid by the employer will constitute taxable salary of the employee and will also be subject to social security contributions.


Senate Office of Finance Berlin: Order dated 28 September 2009

For further information or to discuss the issues raised, please contact Joachim Menz ( on +49 89 24 22 30 0.

This article was produced by, and re-produced with kind permission of, our correspondent firm in Germany, Keller Menz Rechtsanwälte.

Keller Menz


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