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Get your Tax Refund now: German Income Tax Return for Expatriates in english


Your german tax return in english

tax return

Annual tax return - Tax declaration obligations in Germany: At the end of a calendar year, an annual tax return must be submitted to the tax office. The deadline is 31 May of the following year.
Tax declaration 2017
latest submission time = 31st May 2018

Tip: With tax consultants, the deadline extends to 31.12. In exceptional cases, a later deadline can be agreed with the tax office.
The tax declarations and attachments you have to file depend on your income.

If you have worked as an expat in Germany during the last years, you are (most likely) entitled to an income tax return and a tax refund. Do you know the average taxI refund is approx. 1,000 Euro? How much tax you are charged depends on whether Germany has a tax agreement with your home country.

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Annual gross wage
Travel expenses: Simple distance apartment - workplace
Domestic work space
Double housekeeping
other work related costs
(Training, work equipment etc.)
Childcare costs
Household services
Exceptional costs
Church Tax

1) Necessary additional expenses incurred by an employee for a professional double-budgeting.
2) A double financial management exists only if the employee maintains his own household outside the place of his first place of employment and also lives in the place of the first place of employment.
3) Having a household of your own requires the ownership of a dwelling as well as a financial contribution to the cost of living.
4) Accommodation costs for double housekeeping may be set at the actual domestic cost of using the property, at most € 1,000 per month .
5) Expenses for the ways from the place of the first place of work to the place of the own house state and back (family home travel) can be deducted only for a family home travel weekly.
6) To cover the expenses for a family home trip, a distance charge of 0.30 euros for every full kilometer of the distance between the place of one's own household and the place of the first place of work is to be set.
7) Number 4 sentences 3 to 5 shall be applied accordingly.
8) Expenses for family home travel with a motor vehicle left to the taxpayer in the context of a type of income are not taken into account.

You should get in touch with us and we will find out how much you should only pay and (maybe no taxes at all) an how big is your tax refund. Over the past 10 years we have expanded and improved our tax return service in every way to make it the best service for you. Our multi-lingual employees speak up to 5 languages (german, english, french, polish and chinese). Due to our knowledge and experience of filing tax returns using allowances, reliefs, international tax treaties and deductions from the labour codes specific to Germany, we will organise the maximum legal tax refund for you. We will provide you with an estimation of your tax refund. Please contact me now and I let you know how big is your tax refund.

Get your maximum tax refund now

Puzzled by the tax law or which credits and deductions to take? Need assistance with your tax return?

Special offer: We offer you an easy way to do your tax return with the first German tax return software SteuerGo.de in English for all expats. We find every tax deduction you qualify for to get you the biggest tax refund, guaranteed. Our calculations are 100% accurate so your taxes will be done right. You get a comprehensive review of your tax return by a tax consultant before you file so you can be confident nothing gets missed.

How do you receive your annual income tax return?

  • Start the online tax return software or.
  • send your checklist + documents by email, fax or post (copies are sufficient, also from the tax card).
  • You will get your tax return with tax computation. The tax office get the return digital.
  • You sign your tax return and send it to the tax office.
  • You receive the tax assessment and pass it prompt to our office.
  • We will check your tax assessment. (If the tax assessment should not be correct, we can insert an objection after consultation with you.)
  • You receive the tax refund and settle my fees.

Fees for your annual income tax return

Fees example for a simple annual income tax return (Steuerberatergebührenverordnung) :

Annual income tax return (an income e.g. 29,500 €) § 24 exp. 1 nr. 1 - A 1/10 = 79.60 €
Determination of the income (incomes e.g. 34,500 €) § 27 exp. 1 -  A 1/20 = 43.60 €
Sum net = 123.20 €
plus 19 % value added tax = 23.41 €
Gross fees tax return = 146.61 €

The tax return costs are mostly tax deductible.

Who has to submit an income tax return and which deadlines apply?

Taxpayers, who mostly receive no income from employment, but from the other six types of income, are required to submit an annual income tax return to their tax office. This obligation excludes those whose income is below the basic allowance. The income tax return must be submitted by 31 May of the following year. If the taxpayer or the taxpayer is advised or prevented, the due date may be extended upon application. There may be special time limits for assessments on application in cases of loss deductions and the return of building allowances, as well as for farmers and foresters. In the case of late submission or failure to file an income tax return, the tax office may impose a delay surcharge of up to 10% of the income tax (maximum 25,000 euros). In addition, the filing of an income tax return can be enforced by threatening and possibly setting a penalty payment.

When is an employee required to file an income tax return?

For employees, there is an obligation to file an income tax return only in certain cases, in particular when

  • the tax office has established an allowance as a deduction tax payable and the wage limits of 10,500 euros for individual investment or 19,700 euros for collective investment are exceeded,
  • the positive sum of the income from which no income tax has been withheld, z. Rental or lease income or pensions totaling more than € 410,
  • an employee has simultaneously paid wages from several employers,
  • the positive sum of the income and benefits which have been subject to the progression reservation (tax-free wage replacement benefits, such as unemployment benefit I, short-time allowance, parental allowance, sickness benefit or the tax-free top-up amounts for partial retirement, totaling more than 410 euros,
  • both spouses / partners have paid wages and one of them is taxed under the tax code V or VI,
  • the spouses / partners have chosen the tax code IV with factor (according to § 39f EStG) or
  • the employer has calculated the payroll tax from another source of income and thereby the wages from earlier,
  • Disqualified from service in the calendar year.

When should an employee file an income tax return?

The submission of a voluntary tax return by means of the so-called application assessment may be useful for many taxpayers, because only so certain tax benefits can be asserted. This is the case, for example

  • the employee has not been in continuous employment during the calendar year,
  • the amount of wages varied over the course of the calendar year and the employer did not make any wage tax compensation for the employee,
  • the tax code changed in favor of the employee during the year
  • Incurring expenses, special expenses or exceptional charges for which no allowance has been deducted as an income tax deduction
  • the taxpayer wishes to claim a tax reduction (eg for household-related employment or service contracts).

Tax declaration - What information do I have to give?

The official form for the tax return consists of a series of individual forms, broken down by type of income, and therefore not necessarily all of them have to be processed. In any case, you must fill out the main form with your personal details, your family background, special expenses (as of 2009, the information on the costs of the pension includes information on pension costs) and extraordinary charges.

Please enter your tax identification number, which you have received from the Federal Central Tax Office, and, if you have already submitted an income tax return in previous years, your tax number in the spaces provided in the header of the main form. If you have moved in the calendar year and have therefore changed your tax office, enter your existing tax office at the appropriate place. Please fill only the white fields. Enter only one letter, one digit or one special character in each box. The form is accompanied by some explanatory pages that will guide you through the income tax return and help you to complete it. So you can also get an overview of the numerous tax benefits.

For the individual income types, there are also the following investments:

  • Employees fill in the investment N for income from employment.
  • Tradespeople fill out the investment G for business income. For an income surplus calculation and gross receipts of 17,500 euros, the EÜR form should be completed.
  • Freelancers and self-employed fill in the plant S for income from self-employment. For an income surplus calculation and gross receipts of 17,500 euros, the EÜR form should be completed.
  • Farmers and foresters fill in the plant L for income from agriculture and forestry.
  • Savers and investors also fill out the investment KAP for income from capital assets and for private capital gains the plant SO.
  • Pensioners are filling up the R facility for pensions and other benefits.
  • Homeowners with rented property fill out the Annex V for income from renting and leasing.
  • In addition, foreign income u. a. in the Annex AUS, information on children in the attachment child and maintenance payments recorded in Appendix U.
  • In addition, you can assert the additional special deduction amount pursuant to § 10a EStG for your pension contributions ("Riester pension") with the Annex AV.

German Income Tax information + tips

Unlimited income tax liability: Persons with domicile or habitual abode in Germany are subject to unlimited income tax liability with their world income.

Income tax is calculated based on the taxable income.
Taxable income is derived from total income from the seven types of income:

  1. income from agriculture and forestry
  2. income from trade or business
  3. income from self employment
  4. income from employment
  5. income from capital assets (including capital gains)
  6. rental income
  7. other income (e.g. income from a pension)

Income are calculated by deducting the business expenditures e.g. work-related expenses from the revenues e.g. income. Income from capital assets is subject to special taxation.

Work-related expenses are all expenses that are incurred in order to generate, secure and maintain revenue (§ 9 EStG). All expenses related to the acquisition, safeguarding or preservation of revenue may be deducted as income-related expenses from wages. In contrast, private life costs are not deductible for tax purposes without express regulation. Expenses for food, clothing and housing, as well as representation expenses can therefore not be deducted. Of expenses that are partly professional and partly private purposes, the occupational portion is only considered as income-related expenses, if it is not of secondary importance and can be easily and perfectly separated from the private expenses.

What are the typical work-related expenses of expats accepted?

  • Contributions to professional associations: The membership fees to trade unions and professional associations are advertising costs.
  • Expenses for the paths between the apartment and the "first place of employment" in the amount of the transport-independent distance charge: The distance charge for each full distance kilometer of the shortest road connection between home and regular workplace is € 0.30. Other than the shortest road connection can be used if it is obviously more convenient and is used regularly. The distance charge can only be applied once per day. Additional routes will not be taken into account even if they are required because of longer work breaks or because of additional work. If a worker has several apartments, the connection to the street from the apartment further away shall be taken into account if the center of the worker's or worker's interests, eg. The family residence is located. For routes that do not use their own car or for use, the distance charge is limited to a total of 4,500 euros. The distance charge does not apply to air routes and tax-free collective transport; here the actual expenses are deductible. Expenses for the use of public transport are deductible, as far as they exceed the deductible as a distance allowance. Tax-exempt or flat-rate taxed expenses subsidies or benefits in kind of the employer for journeys between dwelling and regular work place are to be counted towards the distance lump sum. Disabled persons whose degree of disability is at least 70 or disabled persons with a degree of disability of less than 70, but at least 50 who are significantly impaired in their ability to move about the street, may claim the actual expenses instead of the distance allowance. Without proof, passenger car use costs 0.30 euros per kilometer driven (round-trip).
  • accident costs: With the distance flat rate all vehicle costs are compensated, so z. As well as garage rental, parking fees, financing and repair costs. Only accident costs are deductible as extraordinary costs in addition to the distance charge.
  • application costs: The cost of finding a job is income-related expenses and thus deductible. Usual costs are the expenses for advertisements, telephone calls, postage and photocopying of certificates as well as travel expenses on the occasion of a performance. For the deduction, it does not matter if the application was successful.
  • Training costs: Expenses for the initial acquisition of knowledge that qualify for admission to a job or for a first degree are costs of living and only to a limited extent as special expenses deductible. This also applies to a part-time first degree course. In contrast, there are advertising costs if the initial vocational training or the first degree course is the subject of a service relationship (training service relationship). Irrespective of the existence of an employment relationship, the expenses for further training in the occupation already learned and for retraining measures preparing for a change of occupation are deductible as income-related expenses. This also applies to the expenses for further study if this is in a sufficiently concrete, objectively ascertainable connection with later taxable income from the intended occupational activity. In addition to the expenses that relate directly to the training, such. Exam fees, technical literature, writing materials, etc. may also be claimed for travel expenses and additional meals. Replacement services from third party, eg. B. by the employer, but must be deducted from the expenses.
  • Traveling expenses: The professional expenses for an external activity may be deducted as income-related expenses. Expenses directly related to a foreign operation include travel expenses, additional meals, overnight accommodation for multi-day travel and incidental expenses such as baggage transportation, luggage, telephone, postage and parking. A forwards activity occurs when a worker works outside his / her home and not at his / her first place of work. For additional meals, only the statutory lump sums can be applied. A proof of higher expenses is not possible. The amount of the lump sum depends on the place of the outward activity and the absence of the apartment and the first place of work. For domestic travel from 01.01.2014 are to be stated: in the absence of 24 hours: 24 euros / in the absence of more than 8 hours: 12 Euro. For multi-day outings with overnight stay for the arrival and departure each 12 euros, for full days (24 hours absence) 24 euros. However, in the case of the same domestic external activity, the lump sums for additional meals are only allowed for the first three months. The period of absence applicable to the lump sum amounts to the respective calendar day. Insofar as additional meals are to be recognized for the same period because of an external activity or because of double financial management, the highest standard amount shall be used in each case. On the other hand, accommodation costs can only be deducted by the employee as income-related expenses in the case of domestic and international travel; the employer can either replace the proven actual expenses or refund flat rate for each night depending on the place of the overnight stay. In any case, travel expenses can only be recognized as an employee's cost of employment if they have not been reimbursed by the employer or the employer tax-free. In the case of an external activity, the actual expenses can be stated as income-related expenses or reimbursed by the employer tax-free. For additional meals in the case of out-of-town activities, regardless of the amount of the actual expenses incurred, the statutory lump-sum payments must be applied (see above).
  • double housekeeping: Anyone who works outside of the place where he or she owns a family household and takes a second home on the job for work can deduct the resulting travel expenses and second home costs up to a monthly maximum of 1000 euros as income-related expenses. Additional expenses for meals can only be set at the level of the applicable lump sums and only for the first three months of double budgeting. This limit applies to all employees. If the employee already went to the new place of employment immediately prior to the start of the double financial management, the duration of this mission is counted towards the three-month period. The travel costs for the first outward journey and the last return journey are to be stated in the actual amount. For cars without a proof each 0.30 euros per kilometer driven recognized. For the expenses for a family homestead weekly, however, applies the means of transport independent distance flat rate, which is to be calculated uniformly for each full distance kilometer of the shortest road connection between the place of their own household and the place of employment with 0.30 €. Here, too, distances covered by plane and routes with collective transport by the employer are disregarded; the expenses for the flight may possibly be claimed in addition to the distance charge for the routes to the airport in actual amount. The limitation of the distance flat rate to 4,500 euros does not apply to family home trips. The second home costs may be deducted in their actual amount incurred but only up to a maximum monthly amount of 1000 euros, as far as usual and not excessive. For non-household workers, no double budgetary management is recognized. According to § 3 no. 13 or 16 EStG tax-free benefits of the employer for a double budgetary management reduce the deductible income.
  • Overalls
  • Moving expensesy
  • Work equipment
  • Account management fees, etc.

Tax reliefs: Certain expenses of the taxpayer may be deducted:

  • special expenses (Sonderausgaben) are, for example: insurance premiums, retirement savings, donations, etc.:
    • the statutory pension insurance and professional pension funds,
    • private funded pension insurance (basic or "Rürup" pension),
    • Health, nursing, accident and liability insurance,
    • the unemployment insurance,
    • Occupational and occupational disability insurance,
    • Risk insurance companies that only provide a benefit in the event of death,
    • certain life insurance policies starting before 1 January 2005.
    • Payments to divorced or permanently separated spouses up to 13,805 euros per year if requested by the donor with the consent of the beneficiary. The consent is basically effective until canceled. A revocation is only effective for future calendar years. The recipient must tax the Alimony payments as income.
    • special life, long-term and recurrent benefits (formerly pensions and permanent burdens),
    • church tax paid (less reimbursed church tax), unless church tax was levied as a surcharge on capital gains tax,
    • Childcare costs for children under 14 years of age or disabled children who are unable to maintain themselves up to two thirds of the expenses due to a disability occurring before the age of 25 (other than education, special skills or sporting and other leisure activities), maximum 4,000 euros per child per calendar year,
    • Expenses for own vocational training up to 6,000 Euro per calendar year,
    • 30% of the salary, up to a maximum of 5,000 euros, for a particular child (for whom the taxpayer is entitled to child allowance or child benefit), except for the accommodation, board and childcare allowance of certain schools,
    • Donations and certain membership fees to promote tax-privileged purposes (§§ 52 to 54 AO) to tax-privileged corporations or legal entities under public law and Donations and membership fees to political parties up to the amount of 1,650 euros (for joint assessment 3,300 euros), as far as a tax reduction according to § 34g EStG has not already been granted.
  • extraordinary financial burdens (außergewoehnliche Belastungen): Which extraordinary burdens can be claimed (§§ 33-33b EStG)? Expenses necessarily and to a greater extent incurred by a taxpayer in the private sector than the vast majority of comparable taxpayers (eg medical expenses) may be considered as exceptional burdens insofar as they exceed the reasonable burden (graded by marital status and total income) ( § 33 EStG). They can be taken into account as an allowance deductible from the wages (Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmal) if they exceed, possibly together with other expenses to be considered, the amount of 600 euros. Your tax office will keep official forms ready for your applications. Certain exceptional charges may be deducted to a limited extent up to fixed maximum amounts, for B. Expenses
    • for the Alimony and any professional training of persons who are legally entitled to the taxpayer or his spouse and for whom no one is entitled to an allowance for children or child benefit, up to a maximum of € 8,004 per year. A person is treated as a person who has the legal right to Alimony if certain domestic public funds for their Alimony have been reduced or have been reduced if the taxpayer has paid Alimony. To the amount of 8,004 euros own income and own payments of the maintained person are to be taken into account, if they sum together 624 euro, as well as certain subsidies (§ 33a exp. 1 EStG). This provision also covers Alimony of the divorced or permanently separated spouse, if a deduction is not effectively applied for as special expenditure within the framework of the so-called real splitting.
    • to cover the special needs of a full-time child, who is in vocational training, and who is entitled to an allowance according to § 32 Abs. 6 EStG or child allowance, amounting to up to 924 Euro per year.costs for illness etc.
  • Tax relief for expenditure for employment or services in or around the household:
    • Household employment, services and craftsmanship: In the case of household-related employment relationships, which are minor jobs (so-called mini-jobs), income tax is reduced on application in accordance with § 35a (1) EStG by 20% of the expenses, maximum 510 euros. For other household-related employment relationships (eg employment subject to social insurance contributions) or for the use of household-related services (eg service providers) that are not craftsmen's services, the income tax is reduced on application in accordance with § 35a (2) EStG 20% of the expenses, maximum 4,000 euros a year. In accordance with § 35a (3) EStG, income tax is reduced on application for the use of craftsman services for renovation, Alimony and modernization measures, with the exception of the measures subsidized under the CO2 Building Rehabilitation Program of KfW Förderbank 20% of the expenses paid, maximum 1,200 euros per year. An employment relationship is close to the household if it involves a household-related activity. The household activities include u. a. the preparation of meals in the household, the cleaning of the taxpayer's home, the care of the garden, and the care, care and support of children, sick, elderly and dependent persons. Domestic services include all activities that are sufficiently close or related to financial management. Domestic services must therefore be activities that are usually carried out by members of the household and for which a service agency or a self-employed service provider is used, eg. B. the activity of a self-employed window cleaner, the care of relatives by using a nursing service or gardening work (mow lawn, cut hedge) by a nursery.
    • The craftsmanship includes all manual activities for renovation, Alimony and modernization work such. Painting and wallpapering, laying tiles, renewing the flooring, replacing windows and doors, as well as garden and road works. The tax reduction can only be claimed if the employment, the service or the craftsman's service is carried out or provided in a household of the taxpayer or, in the case of long-term care and assistance, of the well-groomed and cared for person in the European Union or the European Economic Area. Another condition is that the taxpayer has received an invoice for the household-related service or the craftsman service and the payment has been made to the account of the provider of the service. A tax reduction is only considered for expenses that are not business expenses, income-related expenses or special expenses and have not been taken into account as exceptional charges.

How and when will children be considered?

Children under the age of 18 will be considered for the allowances in each case; for child benefit, if you are a resident or habitual resident of Austria or in an EU / EEA Member State.

Over 18, but not yet 21 years old, children will be considered if they are not in employment and registered as jobseekers at an employment agency in Germany.

Over 18, but not yet 25 years old children will be considered if they are in vocational training (this also means school education) etc.

Beyond the age of 21 or 25, children will be considered, limited to a period corresponding to the duration of the national basic military service or alternative civilian service,

  • who have done the statutory military service or civil service or
  • who voluntarily committed to military service for a period of not more than three years in lieu of compulsory military service
  • or who have exercised a liberating activity as a development worker in the legal defense or civil service.

In addition, consideration of children over the age of 18 requires that they do not engage in any harmful gainful employment after completing initial vocational training or undergraduate studies.

Children who are unable to entertain themselves because of physical, mental or emotional disabilities are also considered beyond the age of 25 if the disability occurred before the age of 25 (transitional period: children born before 1 January) 2007 have suffered a disability in the period from their 25th birthday and before their 27th birthday, for which they are unable to entertain themselves, will continue to be considered if the substantive conditions exist)

Tax calculation:
– business / employment related expenditures
= sum of income
– special expenses
– extraordinary financial burdens
– tax allowances for children
= taxable income
x tax rate
= income tax
– certain tax reliefs ( e.g. for overseas income)
= assessed income tax
– advance payments
– paid wages tax
= additional payment / refund of income tax

Tax rates: A basic personal allowance of the taxable income is not subject to taxation. For single taxpayers, it is € 8,130 and € 16,260 for married taxpayers. For each child of the taxpayer, a tax-free child allowance as well as an allowance for care, educational or professional training requirements of the child may be deducted from the income, if deduction of the allowances is more favourable than the entitlement to child benefit, quod vide Family assistance. The base tax rate is 14 %, rising progressively to 42 % for a taxable income of € 52,882/€ 105,764 (single/married taxpayers). From a taxable income of € 250,731/€ 501,462 (single/married taxpayers), the tax rate is 45 %. These are the so-called limit tax rates, i.e. the average tax burden is significantly lower.

Special tax rate for income from capital asset: Income from capital assets is taxed at a standard tax rate of 25 % (plus solidarity surcharge).

Avoidance of double taxation: Double taxation is avoided via national regulations and Double Taxation Conventions. Double taxation conventions are international law agreements. The Double Taxation conventions usually cover income and property tax. The current convention texts are available at the following link: Double Taxation Conventions

Tax return foreign income

For non-self-employed foreign income, you must submit the N-AUS attachment. For each foreign country, a separate annex N-AUS must be submitted. For more information see instructions Appendix N-AUS. Frontier workers continue to use the specific N-GRE national forms instead of the N-AUS plant. Eg Switzerland.

According to Section 90 (2) of the AO, the taxpayer has an obligation to cooperate in foreign matters: documents such as: For example, certificates issued by the employer regarding employment abroad and taxation of wages abroad must therefore be included in full. The taxpayer must provide proof of the amount of foreign income and on the determination and payment of foreign taxes by appropriate documents (eg tax assessment, self-assessment in foreign countries (eg USA, Italy), payment receipt), if necessary in German translation (§ 68b EStDV). If the tax is registered abroad by an employer, an entrepreneur or a bank, proof from the declarant of the amount of the tax deducted (H 212a (Determination of foreign taxes) EStH) is sufficient proof.

Further information is available: