The partnerships include the civil law partnership (GbR), the open trading company (OHG), limited partnerships (KG) and partnership companies (PartG). The European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) is a special form of partnership standardized under EU law.
Under civil law, the partnership is a joint partnership, the essence of which lies in the personal, joint relationship and personal liability of the partners. The company's assets are tied together. The individual partner cannot dispose of his share of the assets. Only all shareholders can access the assets together.
In terms of income tax law, partnerships are particularly characterized by the fact that they are not the addressee of taxation themselves. However, the company is to be viewed as a profit-determining unit (unitary principle). As part of the uniform determination of the profit at the company level, the profit of the company is determined, then it is attributed to the shareholders. In contrast to the corporation, the partnership follows the principle of determination.
As a result, the profit is taxable at the time the profit is determined regardless of the point in time at which the shareholders withdraw it. It follows that the partnership itself cannot be subject to income tax. The income of the shareholders is taxable. According to § 15 I 1 No. 2 EStG, in addition to the profit shares of the partners, remuneration for activities of the partner in the service of the company (e.g. management activity) for the granting of loans and for the transfer of assets are to be added to the income from commercial operations ( Co-entrepreneur income).
An advantage of the partnership is the possibility of loss compensation according to § 2 III EStG, because the losses are directly attributed to the shareholders. Compensation with other positive income is possible. Due to the principle of unity (unity of company and shareholders), the partnership cannot conclude any contractual obligations (e.g. rental agreements) with the shareholders; Any expenses incurred cannot be deducted as operating expenses.
A reform of the taxation of partnerships is under discussion (Brühler Recommendations). An option right to be treated like a corporation has not yet been introduced, but is partially possible in other countries.