German gift tax and inheritance tax laws have become even more complex recently. The reasons are constitutional law requirements (former inheritance tax laws to be held as unconstitutinal) as well as permanent amendments to the law due to political wish-lists.
Cross-border donations or inheritance scenarios are even more complicated. As a rule of thumb, a non-resident German inheritance taxation is triggered if relevant assets or just one of the involved individuals is based in Germany (or holds a German citizenship).
A tax compliance challenge (for domestic as well as cross-border cases) is to assess whether assets can be qualified as tax-privileged business assets for German tax purposes. The underlying idea is that (i) even though in general inheritance tax and gift tax rates “for the wealthy” have been increased, the transfer of business operations is exempted, provided that existing jobs (measured by the payroll amounts) are being preserved.