[meteorite-list] Ebay, Websites and State Taxes

From: Martin Altmann <altmann_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 7 May 2013 16:04:11 +0200
Message-ID: <003e01ce4b2b$c0096080$401c2180$_at_de>

Hi Jim, Adam, Jason, Sires..

Danger Mouse can't shut his mouth, whenever he hears over the pond the
whining about taxes.

Maybe you could take the following not as derision, but as a consolation to
calm your worries,
when I now demonstrate, how the tax&dues situation is for the various German
meteorite dealers,
here in Europe, the birthland of meteorites and meteorite collecting.
Hence such dealers, who you all esteem since many years for their
assortments, offers and finally their prices.
People like the Karls, Andi Gren, Siggi Haberer, Mirko Graul to mention a
few only, or if you use ebay, Stephan Decker, Tim Gueldenpfennig and so on..

(And can't remain silent, as I'm fighting now for several months with the
German offices, to get my pre-payments of taxes&dues back, for the last
year, where due to a disease I nearly wasn't able to work, so that currently
I have to occupy myself with that matter).

First of all, Adam,
I noticed, watchin my nieces&nephew, that the U.S.-educational system
attaches importance to impart patriotism.
(To a much higher extend as it would be possible in Germland with its evil

Adam, isn't paying taxes an act of patriotism?

Now, join with me a ride through the tunnel of horror
and learn, what your colleagues from the old world, and they aren't all
communists, are paying as a matter of course from their revenues - and note,
that it is still possible for them to work in that profession,
hence most probably the U.S.-sellers will be able to do so too.


Sales tax.
Yep, we dealers have to collect sales taxes for the state for all sales
within the European Union.
If a European collector purchases a stone from the U.S.-seller, he has to
pay that tax directly to the state.
Hence don't be worried, at least with your overseas sales nothing will
change, as your clients there already pay your price + their domestic sale
In Germany the sales tax on meteorites as an exception of a mineral
collectible is 7% of the price+shipping.
If you have bad luck and you meet an officer, who is not of the opinion,
that your meteorite sample is an unique mineral collectible, you pay the
general sales tax rate of 19%. (and then you can fight 2 years forth and
back, until you'll get back your 12% excess. Sounds strange, but it's due to
us having, what a fun, approx. 70,000 individual tax regulations, where you
have to know such funny things, that cauliflower is in the opinion of the
Republic no vegetable, but broccoli is).
Small business is exempt from sales taxes.
And is defined as a business which generates less than 23,000$ turnover
(turnover and not profit) per year.
The sales tax is shared between the Republic and the federal states.

Comes already now into play. Cause you have to pay a percentage from you
brut profit, hence still before deducting all the taxes. The compulsory
health and long term care insurance costs a little more than 15% of your
brut profit.
But minimum for the self-employed even if he does earn almost nothing:
5,700$ per year.
(And if you want to have the same benefits like employees, you have to pay

Business Tax:
We have to pay of course too, as soon as we have a turnover per year larger
than 32,000$.
It is a local tax, the height is appointed by the city/commune and varies
therefore strongly.
Highest rates you pay in such cities like Munich, where everyone wants to
live. In ugly towns like Berlin it's much cheaper, half of it. In my case a
few thousands per annum.

Church Tax:
A specialty in Germany, a relic from the secularization 200 years ago. If
you're a member of the catholic or protestant church, the state collects
from you for the clergy taxes. It's a federal tax, difficult to calculate, a
couple of hundreds per year.

Retirement arrangements.
If you don't want to work as a meteorite dealer as long as a Nininger did
and until you peg out,
you have to pay an annuity insurance. Currently that is still voluntary,
though government has already plans, to make it mandatory for self-employeds
with a minimum due of around 9,000 - 12,500$ per annum.

Solidarity tax
>From that, what still remains, we are charged with that special tax of 5.5%.
Some 20 years ago the federal german republic purchased the german
democratic republic in the East.
After the western government had sold there everything at ballpark prices,
which socialism hadn't destroyed yet,
they found out that the new country was vast and empty and that one had to
rebuilt it, since then we pay that tax
and now the infrastructure and the villages in the East look much better
than in my Bavaria.

Income tax:
Finally, finally we are allowed to pay our income tax!
If the sum of all your incomes of all the sources you have exceeds 11,000$
per year, you have to pay income tax.
Depending of the height of your income the rate starts at 14% and ends at
45% (in autumn is election afterwards 51% are possible).

For meteorite collectors there exist no concept of sales of "collecting"
All revenues from your meteorite sales are subject to tax, no matter if
you're an amateur or a pro, as soon as your total income exceeds those
11,000$ per year.
So even those collectors, who, like almost every collector is doing, sell
here and there a specimen to use the revenue for modifying or enlarging
their collection, hence solely for the hobby, have to add these revenues to
the revenues of their regular job and have to pay taxes.
Also if you purchase your Sikhote from ebay, or if you take your NWA from
the Moroccan experts at the show, or if you are going to a desert to hunt
and you find some - if you set it up for sale you have to pay taxes.
The intention of earning a profit is decisive.
Only exception is indeed a "private sale", hence if you inherit Grampa's
meteorite collection, or in cleaning up the cellar, if you find there a
meteorite collection.. then you can sell it as a private sale, without
Though that has to be an unique sale. Already if you put on ebay every month
a specimen for sale, which is "frequently" ---> taxes.
And you have to prove if you sell your collection, that it was really your
collection, in that sense, that you were sitting many years on it. To
purchase a meteorite at a show and to resell it 2 years later, doesn't work.

And that was it already. All these taxes and dues have to be paid in
advance, based on the figures of the last year, as a interest-free loan to
the state, the federal state, the commune and the insurance agencies.

Hence, a meteorite dealer in Germany (depending on his turnover) works from
Monday to Friday noon/afternoon for the state,
>From Friday evening - till Sunday night for his own pocket.

Additionally some more disadvantages he has compared to his U.S.-colleagues,
like for instance a 2% higher loss by paypal-fees, cause of the bad paypal
conversion rate and much higher shipping costs to overseas than vice versa
(so that he often has to sponsor them).

Living costs btw. are somewhat higher than in most of the USA.
(E.g. currently with your real estate crises, you get already a nicer little
villa in the hills of L.A. at the price of a 4-rooms-appartment in Munich
(or a Victorian 20 rooms villa at the beach in coastal Oregon or Washington
at the price of a 2-rooms-appartment. If it wouldn't always rain there...
Beef 'n energy costs are also higher here.)

So Adam, be brave, be a man!

Also it would be a strange attitude to scare the collectors, that the
introduction of new taxes would lead to higher meteorite prices.
How much dues and taxes a dealer pays is of no interest for the buyer! He
looks at the price and if it's o.k. for him, he pays it, else not.
And that it works, you have your German fellows as a best example. O.k.
60-70% of the sum on the price tags they have to give away as taxes and
dues. But so what? For the collectors they can't add these expenses on the
prices, because they have to compete with all others, hence they can't ask
higher prices than these.
O.k. you will earn less, that you have to compensate in being better, in
workin harder.

But you see, even with such a yoke of dues&taxes you can be a meteorite
Note even, that often European dealers can't even take the same prices as
their U.S.-dealers colleagues,
we often can't take prices like Anne Black, Captain Black, Mike Farmer and
so on for the same or similar material,
simply because the majority of US-collectors hasn't the European offerers on
the screen (although there often the better deals are found), because they
fear that the transactions couldn't be the same smooth, sound and safe like
those, they have with their domestic dealers.
So the only possibility to lure a potential new U.S.-client into his first
purchase, where he will learn, that everything is just as perfect as with a
domestic purchase, is either to travel at high expenses to U.S.-shows or in
offering so much lower prices, that they can't resist anymore.

(Additionally if you have such a strain with taxes ect. you have to generate
larger turnovers to survive, therefore you have to find a possibility to
increase the number of sales).

That's it, so please stop crying or cry with us!

So, if we remember that mantra we read so often in past: "They're aaaall in
solely for the money!".
That doesn't apply to the Germs among the meteorite sellers. If you want to
get rich in Germany, don't sell meteorites, any peddling with mandolin
slicers or corn parers will make you happier...

(And to the young German enthusiast, planning to be once a new Bob Haag, I
say: Finish your studies and be a clerk, best would be a teacher - good
income, pension twice as high as any highly trained expert scientist, no
dues for health and old-age pension insurances, irredeemable for lifetime -
and so much sparetime, that you easily can work as a meteorite dealer as a
second job! Else you'd have to emigrate. Or to merry a rich girl/boy).

Ah one point, more practical...
A question for Anne Black, who so vehemently fights for the compliance to
the IMCA Code of Ethics (although the IMCA-members wait since two eternities
for an official and binding declaration, how the IMCA will handle violations
of ownership- and export laws).

There one reads:
"I agree to abide by all Federal, State and Local Laws and regulations
related to the purchase, sale, trade or other related transactions concerned
with the securing or disposing of all Meteoritical material."

It's not a secret, that several people are selling meteorites without caring
about their domestic tax laws.
(And not only I would confess, that for the honest sellers it can be
somewhat frustrating to have to compete with these).
Can these sellers be IMCA-members or not?

A similar aspect would be, you remember the counterstatement by IMCA against
that NYT-article with that rubbish about the alleged black meteorite market.
I felt not that comfort about that stand, because a black market means not
only a violation of ownership and export legislation, but also marketing
without paying taxes, hence moonlighting, is per definition a black market,
isn't it?

And now, I have to continue to care for my taxes.
Received on Tue 07 May 2013 10:04:11 AM PDT

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