Consumers: Higher CO2 prices, more taxes – 2024 will be so much more expensive

Many consumers are facing a draining year ahead of their wallets.

Consumers: Higher CO2 prices, more taxes – 2024 will be so much more expensive

Many consumers are facing a draining year ahead of their wallets. The CO2 tax increases from 30 to 45 euros. This makes refueling and heating with oil and gas more expensive. Food costs more in restaurants: because of the VAT, which has been raised to 19 percent, restaurant goers have to pay more for schnitzel

At the turn of the year, the CO2 price for fossil fuels rose from 30 to 45 euros per ton. According to the ADAC, this will lead to a price increase of 4.7 cents per liter at the pump for everyone with a diesel car. If you fill up with premium gasoline, you have to expect around 4.3 cents more per liter. This is still hardly noticeable: in December the price for a liter of diesel was on average around 169.5 cents and prices remained at a similar level in the first few days of the year.

“Compared to the previous week, the price of diesel has risen by 1 cent, Super E10 costs an average of 2.1 cents more,” says ADAC press spokesman Alexander Schnaars when asked. But the CO2 price is not the only factor that influences fuel prices. They are primarily based on crude oil prices, which have recently fallen. Fuel prices, however, remain constant. This suggests that many gas station operators had already done so before the turn of the year. “We therefore currently see no basis for further significant increases in the price of petrol and diesel,” said Schnaars. In addition, fuel prices fluctuate throughout the day. A study by the ADAC showed that gas stations regularly charge higher prices in the morning than in the evening. If you fill up late in the day, you can save up to 9 cents per liter.

Since fossil fuels are particularly damaging to the environment, their use has cost extra since 2021: The national CO2 pricing for climate-damaging material started at 25 euros per ton of carbon dioxide emitted and is expected to gradually increase every year. The federal government suspended the increase planned for last year because of the energy crisis. But it is now increasing the price even more, also because it had to plug its budget hole of around 17 billion euros.

The CO2 price is also due for heating oil and natural gas, even if consumers do not find such an item on their bill. Because the CO2 surcharge is paid by traders and producers of the fuel. You must purchase an emissions certificate from the German Emissions Trading Authority of the Federal Environment Agency. The retailers then pass the tax on to the consumers. The invoice from the gas provider then states, for example, what CO2 costs are included for the carbon dioxide released and how high the emission factor is. Heating oil produces around 2.68 kilograms per liter. Since heating oil customers have to independently and regularly replenish their tanks, the CO2 price increases their bill. According to the comparison portal Check24, if you consume 2000 liters, you will have to pay 238.47 euros annually. This corresponds to additional costs of around 80 euros.

For everyone who heats with gas, there are several increases in price: Check24 has calculated that an average four-person household with a gas consumption of 20,000 kWh per year now has to pay a CO2 tax of 180 euros - 60 euros more than before in 2023. In addition, the gas price brake was abolished on January 1st. This causes additional costs of 90 euros. Another price driver is VAT, which will be raised again from 7 to 19 percent for gas. That adds up to another 217 euros. The bottom line is that a family of four can expect additional gas supply costs of 370 euros.

All clear, however, for everyone who heats with wood, pellets or sustainable biogas or uses solar thermal energy or a heat pump. You are spared from the CO2 tax.

Electricity costs will also place a greater burden on household budgets. The electricity price brake expired on January 1, 2024. This can lead to additional costs for anyone with an expensive tariff. The end of the price brake should hardly be noticeable at the moment, even in the generally expensive basic supply: According to Check24, electricity prices in January 2024 are 29.73 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) gross with a consumption of 5000 KWh and thus well below the limit. from which the electricity price brake would have taken effect.

What is more serious is that the operators of the electricity transmission networks in Germany doubled the fees for network use to an average of 6.43 cents per kilowatt hour at the turn of the year. Due to the budget situation, the federal government had to cancel subsidies that were intended to stabilize transmission network fees. Instead, consumers now have to pay more. For an average household with an annual consumption of 5,000 kilowatt hours, the electricity bill increases by more than 150 euros.

If you eat out, you have to dig deeper into your wallet than usual. When visiting a restaurant, VAT has been back to the regular 19 percent since January 1st. Food retailers, bakeries and butchers also have to apply the tax rate if their guests enjoy coffee and bread rolls on site. During the corona pandemic, VAT was temporarily reduced to 7 percent. The lower tax rate otherwise only applies to take-away meals.

The tax turnaround will certainly be noticeable on the bill at your favorite Italian restaurant. While the pizza with 7 percent VAT last cost 12.90 euros, in the future the tax change to 19 percent alone will cost 14.35 euros. In addition, many restaurateurs have already raised the prices of their dishes in recent months due to the energy crisis and inflation. There is now a risk of further price increases.

You can find further calculation examples here

The costs for statutory health insurance will again increase significantly for insured persons in 2024. The contribution assessment limit increases from 59,850 euros to 62,100 euros. The limit marks the maximum gross income until statutory health and nursing care insurance charges contributions. If the insured person earns more, the excess income remains exempt from contributions.

The legislature also increased the average additional contribution from 1.6 to 1.7 percent. The value indicates how high the additional contribution would have to be on average so that the health insurance companies can cover their financial needs. However, the health insurance companies can determine the exact amount of the additional contribution themselves. For some this can be significantly above average. For example, AOK Nordost increased its additional contribution from 1.9 percent to 2.7 percent. The additional contributions from the Bahn-BKK and the Knappschaft have also increased and are now at 2.2 percent. If you want to save here, you can switch to a fund with a lower additional contribution. If the additional contribution increases in January 2024, insured persons have a special right of termination until January 31st.

All of this is offset by income tax relief. The basic allowance, up to which no taxes are due, will be increased from 10,908 euros to 11,604 euros in 2024 - a relief of 696 euros. The top tax rate of 42 percent only applies from 66,761 euros instead of 62,810 euros and the legislature has adjusted the tax rate to inflation.

But new calculations by the German Economic Institute (IW) show that the tax advantages are rarely enough to offset the additional costs. Low and average earners in particular have to give more to the state. A single with an annual gross income of 50,000 euros will pay a total of 40 euros more in taxes and duties in 2024. It is particularly expensive for single parents with one child. With an annual gross income of less than 36,000 euros, the bottom line is a loss of 144 euros. Even with an annual income of 72,000 euros, the relief for a single parent is small at 42 euros. High earners are more likely to benefit: a family with two children and a joint gross annual income of 130,000 euros comes away with a plus of 262 euros at the end of the year.

Note: This article first appeared on "Capital".