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LSG Celle: Artists’ social security contributions may not be levied on the basis of an undifferentiated estimate

In an exciting decision on the so-called Künstlersozialabgabe (artists’ social security contribution), the Landessozialgericht Celle (Regional Social Court of Celle) ruled in the second instance on a legal issue that could also be relevant for many influencers, marketers and other startups in the media sector. Thus, the court ruled, albeit in summary proceedings, that artists’ social security contributions may not be levied on the basis of an undifferentiated estimate.

This was preceded by an audit of a small chocolate manufacturer by the German Pension Insurance, according to which the company, as a so-called self-producer, had received approx. should pay € 4,200 in arrears for artists’ social security contributions. The calculation was based on a flat-rate estimate of advertising revenues.

The factory owners considered the estimate to be unrealistic. In addition, an enforcement of the demand would threaten their economic existence, especially since they were severely affected by the pandemic effects on their business.

The court ordered the suspensive effect of the action, as there were serious doubts about the legality of the claim.

The DRV had not shown that the manufacturers belonged to the group of so-called self-producers. These are companies that not only occasionally place advertising orders with self-employed artists or publicists. There was no evidence of this with regard to significant parts of the period. In addition, an estimate must have a realistic basis and be coherent and comprehensible.

However, the DRV had completely disregarded the fact that a flat annual value of €19,000 had been applied to all self-promoters, irrespective of the company’s orientation and size. However, if the plaintiff company itself only stated €50 to €225, it would already need carefully established facts for the amount calculation and not an undifferentiated table value.

This is because the DRV bears unlimited responsibility for the legality of its decisions within the framework of the tax audit. She herself admits to not having differentiated in the estimate. Their reference to the relevant “reasons of simplification” expresses the fact that the DRV has blindly disregarded the requirements of the rule of law.


Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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