My husband was in the US Military and committed suicide – can Germany tax his pension?

It is a sad and troublesome issue in the US Military. But the stress brought on US Soldiers by their job and from previous or looming deployments leads to hundreds of suicides every year. According to a recent DoD publication 492 US Servicemembers took their own lives in 2022. In 2021 the number reached 523. That the issue does not go away just because one leaves the Military is highlighted by the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report. Since 2001 on average more than 6.000 US Veterans have taken their lives every year. And still, overall US Veterans face a disproportionately higher risk of committing suicide than their American peers without a service record. According to this abovementioned VA report, the differential in rates was smallest in 2002, when the Veteran rate was 12.1% higher than for non-Veterans, and largest in 2017, when the Veteran rate was 66.2% higher. In 2020, the rate for Veterans was 57.3% higher than that of non-Veterans.

And while we have discussed in other articles how the US Military takes care of its own (VA benefits, DIC, SBP….) the intricacies are not commonly known amongst German tax offices. All too often it is just convenient – or common practice – to treat a benefit that looks like a certain type of retirement just like that type of retirement without asking additional questions.

This is where the taxperts come in. As discussed before there are several angles we can work to make sure that those benefits – depending on the circumstances – will be either completely tax-free or at least only considered for tax bracket purposes in Germany but go otherwise untaxed.

We will need to conduct research into your deceased spouse’s medical record, his services history and evaluate DD214, VA letter and the likes to make sure that the German tax office doesn’t touch any of the benefits your spouse paid for with his life.

Please let us know if you feel like your husband’s suicide is not getting the attention it deserves by a German tax office or your current German tax advisor. We are happy to expand their horizon.

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