Thu 27 Feb 2020 12:58AM

[Help needed] Prove we are ARTsy to Finanzamt

KBE Kiez Burn e.V. Board Public Seen by 160

The purpose of our Verein is the promotion of art and culture. The Kiez Burn event is one of the primary ways we pursue this. If we can prove this, we only have to pay 7% taxes, not 19% taxes. The fewer taxes we need to pay, the more we can spend on art & culture.


We would like to ask for your help. Who would feel inspired to make a digital & short-ish summary of 2019 that can be printed & shown to the "Finanzamt" of how we have promoted art & culture?

Some sources:

Ideally we have this overview/summary in German, but English would also help (we could see to translate it later).


For 2020, we would again like to have an easy overview of the different cultural and artistic events taking place (such as the program/booklet). This does not need to be printed, but it is important that it is made, so we have a case to make.

Ideally, we make our culture & art case as we move forward.


Jeff Spirlock Sat 29 Feb 2020 10:36AM

The obvious things that jump out to me would be first and foremost stop calling this a festival, officially or in casual conversation. You sound like sparkle ponies. When I hear the word festival I think of profit. When I hear burn I think community and art. Regardless of the cultural value of a festival, in my opinion, when an entity is profiting from an event it is less about the culture and more about the profit they stand to make. It is a business and if they do not turn a profit it will not continue to exist. To my understanding that is not how this event is structured and making that clear distinction is very important. Secondly, I would make it clear that this is an unsanctioned burn. Being unsanctioned would allow Kiez it's freedom to be different from sanctioned regional Burning Man events. This would allow the use of over 100 different events worldwide as examples about how this is a cultural and artistic contribution. To my understanding this is a bit controversial because I am not sure anyone agrees about aligning with the Burning Man Community. Borderlands is a sanctioned Regional Burning Man event in case people are unaware.

What is with the name Kiez Burn then?

I for one would not even be involved in this discussion if this event wasn't related to Burning Man. Not because it doesn't interest me but because that is how I found it. I Facebook searched Berlin Burners and this was the event it led me to.

Is being a Verein in itself not proof about the intentions of providing cultural contributions?

Has an attempt ever been made to get the 7% tax vs 19%?

Are there specific reasons the 2019 program was deemed insufficient at proving this event is about arts and culture?


Benjamin Langholz Sat 29 Feb 2020 7:29PM

Another reason to invest energy and funds to make sure there is ART at KiezBurn 2020 馃槉馃槈


Jeff Spirlock Mon 9 Mar 2020 10:01AM

What is culture?

  1. the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

  1. the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

As this event was born from Burning Man Culture, it is relevant where Kiez Burn draws it鈥檚 inspiration. What qualifies as art is subjective. When addressing what main stream society views as art we must realize that not all art is viewed as art by society outside this event. To not attempt at educating our Tax Advisor on our culture is not in our best interest. If our Tax Advisor doesn鈥檛 understand the event he represents then how can we expect the Finanzamt to ever fully grasp this events cultural significance. 

I believe I have a good grasp on what the Finanzamt would like to see as documentation. It makes me sad to say I just don鈥檛 see such documentation existing at this point in time. Do we give up and admit defeat? Of course not. It is on us as a community to educate those impacted by our event and our communities actions. That includes our Tax Advisor and the Finanzamt. 

The future documentation of funds allocated for infrastructure, Dreams and Kieze need to follow a format that will be deemed appropriate by the Finanzamt. Photographic evidence of these things could also be beneficial. Actual pictures of the artistic and cultural contributions at the event that Kiez Burn funds make possible should be recorded. It may not be deemed relevant but it rarely hurts to have additional documentation.


Kiez Burn鈥檚 Principles were crafted not as a way to dictate how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community鈥檚 ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event鈥檚 inception. Here are a few of those principles pertaining to our cultural and artistic significance.


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.


Kiez Burn is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.


Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.


Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Feel free to add/edit/delete this Google Doc. I'm not really sure what direction to go with this. I'm also aware that not all these Dreams actually gained their target funding.


Owl Mon 30 Mar 2020 2:01PM

Hi @Alexxx , @Jeff Spirlock , I haven't got a response yet from our tax consultant. What we had worked with to position our events in the idealistic sector for the non-profit Berlin Burner e.V. is this description we initially gave to the tax consultant (Deepl translation):

The event "Burning Bear" is organized by the Verein Berlin Burner e.V. as a larger gathering for the winter and was planned in order to fill a gap in the regular series of events organised by other art activists at home and abroad. Most of the events for Burning Man-interested and active people take place in the warmer seasons all over Europe.

For this purpose a place had to be found that was big enough to gather more participants and interested people than the pure club members. At the same time the participation fees for participants and members of the association should be kept low. The best possible place for such an event was found in Beesenstedt near Halle in a small castle.

Beesenstedt itself is a small village where there are neither larger restaurants nor accommodations. Therefore the members and participants had to be accommodated and catered for in the venue itself. As parking facilities are also very limited, members and participants were also offered bus transportation to take part in the event.

In the castle itself, the event "Burning Bear" took place three years in a row (2016, 2017 and 2018), each time on the last weekend in February.

Here, art installations were presented and workshops were held together to present artistic and social topics. Music, drawing and other handicraft workshops took place, in which participants from home and abroad could offer their artistic interests and skills themselves, learn from others or exchange ideas together.

This is similar for Kiez Burn, and that's what the tax consultant is working with.

Another interesting piece I found is that the German LARP federation is running a law suit against the NRW tax office. They want to get LARP events recognized as a form of theater, and therefore use the reduced tax fee. They said that unfortunately the law suit will take another 3 to 8 years from now, but I try to get their argumentation line. An advice I already got from them:

Hallo Holger, wir empfehlen 眉brigens mit 7% Vorsteuer offiziell zu veranstalten und mit 19% zu kalkulieren. Es gibt F盲lle, bei dem das Finanzamt das so anerkennt. Wenn nicht, hat man das Geld trotzdem eingenommen und kann das ohne Verlust bezahlen. Dann schreibt man einen einfachen Einspruch und h盲ngt sich an die Klage dran. Unser Ergebnis geht dann auf Euch 眉ber - sofern die Voraussetzungen der Con vergleichbar sind. Das ist so die Idee dahinter. Bei Fragen k枚nnen wir auch einfach mal telefonieren. (Hello Holger, by the way, we recommend to officially organize with 7% input tax and to calculate with 19%. There are cases where the tax office accepts this. If not, you have taken the money anyway and can pay without loss. Then you write a simple objection and attach yourself to our law suit. Our result is then passed on to you - if the conditions of the Con are comparable. That is the idea behind it. If you have any questions, we can also just phone.)


Matt Tue 31 Mar 2020 11:03AM

I wonder what kind of tax classification applies to the all sorts of LGBT street / pride-type events that pepper the summer calendar in Berlin 鈥 CSD, Motzstrassenfest, Folsom, etc. If their organisers managed to sneak them into the 7% bracket, then perhaps that鈥檚 a category from the tax man鈥檚 famous 鈥渂ook鈥 that we must emulate. Sure, I know these events don鈥檛 charge their participants a fee (ticket, membership, whatever). But objectively, rationally, and manifestly, they are far more commercial than we鈥檇 ever be 鈥 they have vendors and sponsors. Yet I鈥檇 be surprised if they weren鈥檛 taxed at 7% since they serve the greater good and involve some sacred cows. I鈥檓 speculating, of course 鈥 but if I鈥檓 right, it would be interesting to know what rubric in the tax book they鈥檙e filed under.


Jeff Spirlock Sun 5 Apr 2020 11:10AM

I'm hoping my translation efforts were fairly accurate so my interpretation was relevant. I will continue my research with both the LARP & LGBTQ resources listed above.

One thing I did when I started my domestic non profit in the US was to gain a good understanding on what would qualify me for the future tax deductions I desired so I could eventually be approved for the federally recognized 501(c)(3) non profit status and designed my business model around the tax code. Domestic non profits and 501(c)(3) have huge differences in tax breaks but to gain your 501(c)(3) you must operate your business as a domestic non profit first and remain in good tax standing with the state before they will consider the federally recognized non profit status. The process typically takes a minimum of 3 years in the specific state I held a business license in. I know Germany and the US are not the same, I'm just giving some background on the hoops one must jump through for large tax breaks in other countries.

Venue Rental - Freiland


a) the leasing and leasing of real estate, allowances to which the provisions of civil law on real estate apply, and state sovereign rights that relate to the use of land,

Kiez Art & Culture


a) the turnover of the following federal, state, communal or communal organizations: theaters, orchestras, chamber music ensembles, choirs, museums, botanical gardens, zoological gardens, zoos, archives, libraries and monuments of architecture and horticulture. The same applies to the turnover of similar establishments of other entrepreneurs, if the competent state authority certifies that they fulfill the same cultural tasks as the institutions specified in sentence 1. The turnovers of stage directors and stage choreographers at institutions within the meaning of sentences 1 and 2 are also tax-free if the responsible state authority certifies that their artistic achievements directly serve these institutions. Museums in the sense of this regulation are scientific collections and art collections,

b) the organization of theater performances and concerts by other entrepreneurs if the performances are provided by the theaters, orchestras, chamber music ensembles or choirs referred to in letter a,



a) the services of private schools and other general or vocational institutions directly serving the school and educational purpose,

bb) if the competent state authority certifies that they are properly preparing for a profession or an examination to be taken before a legal entity under public law,


a) the lectures, courses and other events of a scientific or educational nature, which are carried out by legal entities under public law, administrative and business academies, adult education centers or institutions that serve charitable purposes or the purpose of a professional association, if the income is predominantly for the Coverage of costs used

b) other cultural and sporting events, which are carried out by the entrepreneurs mentioned in letter a, insofar as the fee consists of participant fees;

Kids Kiez


Benefits of youth welfare according to 搂 2 paragraph 2 of the Eighth Book of the Social Code, taking into care according to 搂 42 of the Eighth Book of the Social Code and services of adoption mediation according to the Adoption Mediation Act if these services are provided by public youth welfare agencies or other institutions with a social character. Other institutions with a social character within the meaning of this regulation are

b) Facilities insofar as they

cc) Provide childcare services for which they are suitable in accordance with Section 23 (3) of the Eighth Book of the Social Code, or

Are tax free too

a) the implementation of cultural and sporting events if the performances are provided by the beneficiaries of the youth welfare themselves or the proceeds are mainly used to cover the costs and these services are closely related to the services described in sentence 1,



voluntary work,

a) if it is exercised for legal entities under public law or

b) if the remuneration for this activity consists only of reimbursement of expenses and reasonable compensation for missing time;

Kiez Financial Structuring - Verein


other services provided by independent, domiciled associations of persons, the members of which are engaged in a non-profit-making activity or a public-benefit activity that is exempt from tax pursuant to numbers 11b, 14 to 18, 20 to 25 or 27 its members resident in Germany, insofar as these services are used for direct purposes in the performance of these activities and the association merely requires its members to be reimbursed the exact share of the respective common costs, provided that this exemption does not lead to a distortion of competition.

Is the Finanzamt the "competent state authority" who we need certification from to qualify?


Paul aka Khromo Sun 1 Mar 2020 7:36PM

It's not an official burn...?


walto Sun 1 Mar 2020 6:28PM

The briefing we got from our Tax advisor was to make a content summary for the Finanzamt of the art, performances, theater,... that happened at Kiez Burn 2019. We'd be very thankful if someone would want to take on this task :)


Owl Sun 1 Mar 2020 1:55AM

I (in my role as RC) will support the move to make Kiez Burn an official Burn. There was already a very late attempt to start the process for the Burn Night, but especially if it could be used as an argument for authorities, we鈥檙e moving a bit away from a former 鈥渨e don鈥檛 need it鈥 馃檪


walto Sun 1 Mar 2020 11:52PM

we would need a content summary by the end of March, the latest. @Alexxx do you remember what the timeline on this was? (ideally also updated in the main thread)

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