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German Tax Returns
So, now that you have settled in Germany, have a job, and pay taxes. Congrats!
Hi, have you met steuerklarüng (tax returns)? Hopefully, he will help you get back some of the taxes you paid.
Who should file tax returns in Germany?
In many cases where you only earn from your employment income, filing your tax returns in Germany is voluntary. Mandatory (compulsory) income tax returns in Germany is if:
- You are self-employed (freelancer or business income)
- You have more than a source of income (i.e., additional part-time income – excluding mini-jobs)
- You received any social benefits such as maternity, parental, severance payment etc.
- You received any income from another country during that year, (e.g. Year of your relocation), including interest/dividends/capital gains earned in your home country.
- You are married and one of you opted for tax class III or V
- A pensioner receiving more than Eur 1500 per month
In most cases, it is beneficial to file your German tax returns. Therefore, we recommend filing your tax returns or at least checking with some providers where you can check for free if it is worth filing your returns before deciding.
Why file tax returns?
Normally filing your tax returns is to inform the Tax office of your income and assess if you have paid taxes accordingly.
Unless you have additional untaxed income, you would have already paid your taxes which was deducted from your monthly pay. Filing tax returns allows you to claim some of the costs to reduce your tax burden and reclaim some of the tax you paid.
Especially, there is a high chance that foreigners relocating for a job to Germany, students on first job, etc would get tax refund.
Deadline for filing tax returns in Germany
For those required to file a mandatory German Tax returns, the deadline to file your German tax returns is 31 July.
However, you can normally get an extension of two or three months by requesting your local Finanzamt (Tax Office).
The German tax year is the same as the calendar year. So, you can file your tax returns anytime starting January to end-May.
For those who wish to file it voluntarily tax returns, you have four years to file your German tax returns.
Options for filing tax returns?
There are many ways to go about prepare and filing your German tax returns:
- Tax Advisor (Steuerberater): This is a hassle-free option but comes with a cost.
- Tax Help Associations (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein): If you are an employee and your tax returns are simple, you can use the help of tax associations where the cost for filing the return depends on your yearly income.
- Tax Returns Software: If you want to try filing yourself, you can buy software which will help you fill the form and submit the tax returns. However, the software is mostly German language, so a good grasp of the language is necessary.
- Web-based applications: The new age SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions provide web-based software which guides you through the process by asking you questions. You do not need to pay an upfront cost to fill the form and you will only be charged if you decide to submit the form online using their services. So you can decide if you want to submit the form after checking if filing the returns is really worth the money. What is interesting is these websites also offer English language service to file your tax returns.
German Tax return in English
Now, there are also online tools that simplify the process to enter your details and file your tax returns in Germany. Online web-based software gives you step by step questions and answers.
What more, they are available in English.
We recommend SteuerGo as it has been one of the first services to offer online tax filing. SteuerGo has a great and clean user interface with very good user documentation and easy to use for a first time user.
- €29,95 ( to file online), free to try
- Available for Employees, Business and Self – employed
- Tax Tips and good documentation
- Check out SteuerGo.de
- €34,90 (One tax return) / € 84,90 (3 tax returns) ( to file online), free to try
- Available for Employees, Business and Freelancers
- Available for Students (in German only)
- Check out Wundertax.de
- €29,00 (to file online), free to try
- Available for Employees and Freelancers
- Foreign Income possible for limited Countries
- Check out TAXANDO.de
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