Today’s topic is the tax declaration in Germany. If you are an employee, you pay 15% to 42% of your salary to the government as tax. Moreover, during the year, you also paid something for the work, school, education, vocational trainings, literature you used for work. In addition, you had some assistance at apartment like maintenance, cleaning etc, you drove by your car to work, you applied for some jobs and had interviews. (If the company didn’t pay the costs for the interview.) Also you visited some seminars which are related with your career or you got married in the last year and then it is time to get your tax return. Today’s topic will help your financial situation and give opportunity to understand basics of tax declaration in Germany.
Who can apply for tax refund?
If one of the following points are valid for you, you can make a tax declaration
You had capital gains and not paid any income tax
Your tax category is III, IV, V or VI
You work self-employed or as freelancer
You or your spouse have a free allowance registered
Your taxable additional income is higher than 410 Euro, including unemployment benefit, sickness benefit or short-time working income
You work at two jobs at the same time
You declared a loss at previous years
When can you apply for tax declaration in Germany?
For tax declaration, you have two ways. Firstly, you can fill the tax declaration yourself and send it to the finance office in your city. Then you should send your filled tax declaration form
for 2018 until 31. July 2019
for 2019 until 31. July 2020
for 2020 until 31. July 2021, at the latest.
If you are taking consultation from tax consultant, then you should plan more time for the tax consultant also. Then deadline of tax declaration for 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be 28 February 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.
If you are making tax declaration voluntarily, then you will have more time (4 years).
Tax declaration for 2015 can be filled and sent till 31. December 2019
Tax declaration for 2016 can be filled and sent till 31. December 2020
Tax declaration for 2017 can be filled and sent till 31. December 2021
What can be refunded?
Job related expenses
First of all, you can get tax refund for all expenses which are related with your work, which means the expenses that you did for your work, which helps you directly to reduce your taxable income.
The working equipment, which you use mostly for your work (Computer, printer, paper, pen etc.)
Driving costs to work (With public transportation or own car or bicycle, 0.30 Euro pro kilometer maximum 4500 Euro annually)
Costs of job related trainings, books, seminars, which you paid yourself
Contributions to professional association
Costs of job applications
Bank charges for salary account
Costs for workroom at home, partly
Costs for vocational training, partly
Second refundable expenses are the additional expenses, which are private costs. The tax on these expenses are reduced to make them attractive. Because government wants also that you invest your money into these fields, which are expenses of a provident nature.
Contributions for private or statutory retirement plan
Health and care insurance contributions
Contributions for other insurances like liability insurance, accident insurance
Tax payment for church
First vocational training costs
Exceptional costs are the unexpected expenses which makes huge financial impact.
Medical expenses like doctor costs and drugs, if it is not covered by health insurance
Costs of care for parents
Living expenses due to parents care
Household costs are the expenses which you paid for a maintenance, help in garden to somebody else. Costs of the material cannot be declared and also you should not pay cash, you should make a bank transaction to declare it.
Contractor costs: Repairmen, maintenance job done by a contractor can be declared in this tax declaration. 20% of contractor salary can be declared, up to a maximum of 1,200 EUR annually.
Household services: Cleaning services, gardening services can be also declared. 20% of the paid work, up to a maximum of 4,000 EUR per year.
Bills? Do you really need them in tax declaration?
To be honest, you don’t really need the bills to fill your tax declaration. Finance office doesn’t require bills to work on your declaration, there is big BUT here, they can ask some of bills for your expenses.
That’s why I’m collecting all of the bills, expenses that I did during the year. I attach them on an A4 page and take some note regarding this expenses, for what I spend this money, when etc.
These information help to fill tax declaration form without forgetting any of the expenses which can be refunded. Also if finance officer ask about tax declaration, I have a well organized bills collection where I can find a document to answer them.
Also for some expenses like household costs you need definitely a document, that’s why you should pay work cost via bank transition, if you want to declare it.
How? Which tool?
Till now I filled three times tax declaration. Each time I followed another way to fill.
At the first time, I was intern I paid just 450 Euro in one year as tax, that was really low to buy a tax declaration software or to take consolation from tax consultant. One night I tried Elster and filled tax declaration and good thing, you can see how much you will get back. When I found out, I can get all what I paid, then I stopped and sent this declaration to finance office online.
Tax Consultant, no!
At the second time, I visited a tax consultant, who helped to fill every forms. He made a calculation of refund amount also. I had to just sign them and sent back. I paid around 100 Euro for that, because company had an agreement with this consultant. But my experience with this consultant was not really good, because I got much more than he calculated. He calculated around something 1500 Euro, I got refund around 2200 Euro. Thanks to the God, finance office calculated refund fairly.
Due to my bad experience with the tax consultant last year, I filled tax declaration online in this year. I tried a bit with the Elster but tax refund was really less, that means I was not able to fill properly.
Online Application, yes!
Next I tried Taxfix application on phone, It was good, the result was proper with my expectation.
Lately I got an email from my bank, which was an ad for online tax declaration service, Steuer WISO from buhl.de. First I created an account online without any payment. I filled almost my tax declaration. I got information of possible tax refund, which was proper with my expectation and also what I got from taxfix app.
Then I clicked to send and then I have to select a packet to pay for this service. After I finished payment, I was able to download filled tax declaration form and then I printed out and sent it to the finance office in my city. One month later I got payment of tax refund, over 7500 Euro.
Based on my experience till now, I’m very happy with online tax declaration from buhl.de.
I hope you enjoyed reading this entry and got information regarding tax declaration in Germany, and you can also check Tax System in Germany.
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