Inflationary effects of re-increasing VAT in Germany’s catering industry

_ Yuri Kofner, economist, MIWI Institute for Market Integration and Economic Policy. Munich, 28 November 2023.

Due to the catastrophic economic policy, including the coronavirus lockdown and the artificial energy shortage, the hospitality industry in Germany is facing existential challenges. At 10.4 per cent in real terms, the price-adjusted loss of sales in the first half of 2023 is significantly lower than the pre-crisis level in 2019. The restaurant industry is doing even worse, with a real drop in sales of 13.0 per cent. [1] The sector lost 36,000 companies in 2020 and 2021 alone. [2]

The situation is very serious: according to ifo surveys, the existence of almost every 6th catering business in Bavaria is currently under threat. [3] In 2024, 12,000 catering businesses nationwide are threatened with closure if the planned tax increase from 7 to 19 per cent comes at the turn of the year. [4]

IfW Kiel predicts that the almost tripling (!) of the VAT rate from 7 to 19 per cent in the catering industry would increase consumer price inflation by 0.4 percentage points in 2024. [5] And the SVR estimates that this would burden the economy by 2.8 billion euros in 2024 [6].

The reduced VAT rate for food in the catering industry applies in 23 out of 27 EU countries. This is therefore the rule in the EU and not the exception. [7] In addition, it would be contradictory and distort competition to tax freshly prepared food in restaurants at 19 percent again from 1 January 2024, while only 7 percent VAT will continue to be charged on takeaway, supermarket or meal delivery food.

For these reasons, the German government should refrain from raising VAT in the catering industry again. Instead, Berlin must reduce VAT on food and non-alcoholic drinks in restaurants and accommodation establishments as well as in pubs, bars, clubs and discos to 7 per cent for an indefinite period.


[1] Destatis (2023). Monatliche Umsatzentwicklung der Gastronomie in Deutschland nach Branchen von Januar 2019 bis September 2023. URL :

[2] Destatis (2023a). Anzahl der umsatzsteuerpflichtigen Unternehmen in der Gastronomie in Deutschland von 2002 bis 2021. URL:

[3] Hennrich J. et al. (2023). ifo-Konjunkturtest Bayern. November 2023. Ifo Institut. URL:

[4] Menzel B. (2023). Gastro-Exitus droht: 12.000 Betriebe vor dem Aus – Ampel-Plan „ein fataler Irrweg“? Münchner Merkur. URL:

[5] Boysen-Hogrefe J. et al. (2023). Deutsche Wirtschaft im Herbst 2023: Konjunktur windet sich aus der Stagnation. IfW Kiel. URL:

[6] SVR (2023). Jahresgutachten 2023/24. URL:

[7] DEHOGA Bundesverband (2023). Mehrwertsteuersätze für Gastronomie in der Europäischen Union. URL:

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