Tax return in Germany for foreigners made easy – Steuererklärung

Interactions with the finance authorities is almost always something we want to avoid. However, doing your tax return in Germany can not only be super easy, but also prove to be quite profitable. That’s right: you could probably expect to get a few hundred to a few thousand euros!

That was “how much”, but if the “how” is the part that worries you the most, let me assure you that Germany has come a long way the past few years. If paper forms are still around, tax payers have now a wide array of options to process their cases. Expats have been blessed with many others to do their tax return in Germany in English too.

So dive in with me into this broad introduction

Even if it’s not your first year here, the average tax return in Germany is close to 1000€ nation-wide. Now that’s motivation! 🙂

Tax return in Germany

The road to your tax refund in Germany :

Before your panic when thinking “I haven’t done my tax return this year!”,  let me assure you that there is good chance you won’t have any problems with your Finanzamt if you forgot to file a tax return. You might not obligated.

If your salary is your only income and you are single, then it will be a piece of cake to get your tax refund. You have already paid your taxes, now your job is to obtain as much refund as you can! For freelancers, it’s of course another story as it is compulsory.

Should i be doing one?

It is compulsory for self-employed people. For employees, it is only compulsory if they are in one of the following situations:

Income sources

  • Additional income (not from salary) higher than 410€ in total.
  • Salary replacement income (like unemployment benefits) higher than 410€ in total.
  • More than one employer in the year.
  • More than 2 salaries (like a full-time job and a minijob).

Family situation

However, even if you don’t have to do it, you may as well, as there are chances you get money back too.


So how can I do my tax return in Germany?

Doing it on your own

You can skip to this part if you need help.

If you feel confident enough to do it on your own, you first have to make sure you get all the right forms. It is recommended to download the forms directly from the official website this way. Click on the right hand side on “Einkommensteuer mit allen Anlagen”, a list with all the forms will appear.

You can also do everything electronically. On this website,  it is also possible to download the official tool called ELSTER (ELektronische STeuerERklärung) onto your computer. This tool enables you to proceed to your tax return in Germany in digital form, saving both you and your Finanzamt a lot of time. You need to sign-up for an account and you receive your password by post, which might take a week or two.

The ministry for finance has even set 2022 as the date after which no paper forms can be submitted in the future. Only digital forms then.

Here are the most commons forms for tax return in Germany

If you are an employee , you need the following forms (e.g for 2019) :

  • ESt 1 V 2019 (The main form that details general info like your adress, iD nummer,etc)
  • Anlage N 2019 (The form to detail your income as an employee)
  • Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand 2019 (The form to detail your insurances)

If you are self-employed, you need the following forms (e.g for 2019) :

  • Est 1A 2019
  • Anlage S 2019 (Freelancers only)
  • Anlage G 2019 (Gewerbetreibende only)
  • Anlage USt 2019 (if you pay V.A.T)
  • Anlage GeSt 1A 2019 (Gewerbetreibende only)
  • Anlage EÜR (If turnover is more than 17 500€ a year)

Other common forms include:

  • Anlage Sonderausgaben: to document special expenses you want to put off in taxes. This would include pension contributions, education costs, donations and a lot more.
  • Anlage Außergewöhnliche Belastung: to document “extraordinary” expenses in case of traumatic events, health issues or handicap.
  • Anlage Haushaltsnahe Aufwendungen: to document home related services expenses such as your cleaning professional or renovations.
  • Anlage Kind: to document expenses related to your children.
  • Anlage Unterhalt: to document financial support provided to other members of your household (eg: spouse, relatives with no income).
  • Anlage V: to document rental income.
  • Anlage AUS: to document income from outside Germany (except salary)
  • Anlage N-AUS: to document salary income from outside Germany.
  • Anlage AV: to document a Riester-supported pension scheme.
  • Anlage VL: if you received or want to receive vermögenswirksame Leistungen.
  • Anlage SO: in case you sold property that is not your primary residence, less than 10 years after purchase or pay alimony.
  • Anlage KAP: to document income from financial assets.
  • Anlage R: in case you are a retiree and want to submit a tax return in Germany.
  • Anlage L: to document income from farming or forestry.
  • Anlage U: to document alimony paid to ex-partners or spouses.

Honestly from there, i will gladly direct you to one of the best guides made in English around by our good friends of ToyTown Germany. It is very neat, clear and complete to do your tax return in Germany in English properly. I don’t see how i could give better information on how to fill in all those forms.

A figurative representation of how hard it seems sometimes 🙂

I don’t feel confident filling in my tax declaration in Germany alone, how can i get help?

If you are not so good with numbers or a bit scared of doing mistakes because of the German language, there are other ways to do your tax return in Germany.

Good value for the money: self-help online platforms

If this is too much to do, there are also online tools that make it super easy to get your tax declaration in Germany right for a maximum return. New platforms have appeared the past few years to help expats do their taxes 100% in English. They offer the following:

  • You can do your tax return in Germany in English.
  • Your hand is really guided step-by-step with the tool in a clean interface.
  • Check in real time how high your return will be.
  • Save progress at any time when you register for a free account, only pay when you submit.
  • Submit everything to the Finanzamt online directly.
  • Call a English-speaking hotline if you have questions.

In that space, i would recommend 2 providers:

TaxFix (35€ per submission): Pick this if your situation is relatively simple: employee or student, no income from abroad, no income from rental, etc. The interface is particularly clean and aimed at high processing speed but they don’t support all profiles yet.

SteuerGo (30€ per submission): Pick this if your situation is a little more complex: self-employed, married with kids, income abroad, pensions, income from property etc. For self-employed people, it also lets you do additional forms like (Einnahmenüberschussrechnung (EÜR), Umsatz- und Gewerbesteuererklärung). Interface is a little noisier but it supports almost all profiles.

SteuerGo & TaxFix do not support one case: if you have had a foreign employer that year. In this case, you can turn to platforms like SmartSteuer which also supports that (No English though).

Worth it if you have a more complex situation: a Steuerberater

You can also turn to professional tax advisers in Germany for this. A Steuerberater is a trained agent capable of preparing, processing and submitting your tax declaration in Germany. They are accountants usually experienced into finding particular rules that is relevant to your tax profile to optimize your return. Even if their fees are controlled by certain laws, you usually have to pay a few hundred euros for their services. This is why it’s only relevant if your situation is a bit more complex like earning relatively well, being married, having kids, owning a house and having different sources of income. It’s also quite normal for freelancers and self-employed persons to have one.

If you don’t know where to start your search for a Steuerberater, you can turn to platforms like Ageras. They search and find one for you based on your profile and needs. The service is free and the offers you receive non-binding.

Well said cat-friend, (deadline is 31st of July though) Source: Giphy.com

I am ready to submit my tax return, what now?

If you have decided to go with paper, send all forms together to your Finanzamt, without forgetting to sign them. If you have signed-up with Elster already, it’s all a matter of a click. With self-help platforms, you will need to pay a fee in order to submit it to the Finanzamt.

After this is done, you will probably wait for 1 or 2 months before you get any answer, and hopefully, a little ka-ching will appear on your bank account. You can afford this awesome ebike you spotted, or else, paying for your next trip back home.

Alternatively, the Finanzamt might ask you to provide proof for certain things you stated in the forms, or provide additional documents. In this case, expect even more processing times. Make sure to submit a response in time! Here again, if you need more time to gather those documents, you can simply ask for a little more time.


FAQ

What is the tax return deadline in Germany?

In theory, the deadline is to the 31st of July of the following year (for people that obligated by law to submit one). However, you can ask for an extension if you are short on time. Using a Steuerberater allows you to have even more time, as they have until February of the year after to do it (eg: a submission in Feb 2020 for the year 2018). Be aware that there is a penalty of 25€ per late month.

Important note: employees whose sole income are their salaries are not required by law to submit a tax return. This means that the deadline moves to 4 years in the future. For example, you can do your tax return in Germany for the year 2018 until the last day of 2022. Even more importantly:

As an employee, you can claim a tax return for up to 4 years prior the current year. Pretty handy if you forgot to do it those years to maximize return.

I am running out of time, can i extend the deadline?

If you feel like you are running out of time, you can let your Finanzamt know before the 31st of July you need more time. They usually give you an extra 2 or 3 months to do your tax return in Germany. If you are working with a Steuerberater directly, they can even do until the year after!

Which tax deductions can i make use of?

If, like me, you love to play the optimization game, you are surely interested to know which expenses can be put off in taxes. I have made an overview of possible tax deductibles for Germany on this post, for employees, freelancers and students.

Self-help platforms usually support most of them and help you make use of them.

When will i get my money after submitting all the forms?

It takes between 8-12 weeks for the Finanzamt to process your files and obtain your tax refund in Germany on your account. It’s usually quicker when sending everything out electronically. A poll made by a tax payer’s association uncovered the following waiting times to hear from the Finanzamt:

  • 18 % have to wait about 6 weeks
  • 32 % 6 to 12 weeks
  • 32 % up to half a year
  • 18 % longer than half a year

What should i do if i am unhappy about the results, or if some things were misinterpreted?

If you think the Finanzamt made a mistake to process your case, it is possible to protest and open a case (Einspruch) to explain your situation, within one month after receiving the Steuerbescheid.

I started to work without a Steuer ID from the Finanzamt… (maximum tax rate)

When this happens, your wage is being taxed at the maximum rate possible. It is possible to get the difference between that rate and the normal rate back when doing your tax return the following year.

I don’t have a Steuernummer yet, what do i put in the field for that in the forms?

If it’s your first year in Germany, it’s very well possible that you don’t have a Steuernummer yet (although you should have a Steuer ID already. Yes, they are not the same confusingly enough. More on that here.) In this case, just leave this field empty, and the Finanzamt will assign you a Steuernummer after your tax declaration.

Do i need to provide proof for anything i put off in taxes when doing my tax declaration in Germany?

It used to be the case that the Finanzamt would request the tax payer to prove any and all expense stated in the tax declaration. As you can imagine, that was just lot of paper to process. These days, the Finanzamt will request proof on a case by case basis only, in case they have a doubt or if the amount is rather large.

Beware however that you should still be able to prove those expenses even after the tax return has been processed. It is recommended to keep all relevant receipts for 10 years, especially for freelancers.

I have received income from abroad the past year; how should i go about this to avoid double-taxation?

The Finanzamt requires of all German residents to declare any and all income sources, even if they are coming from abroad and have nothing to do with your life here. If that income was already taxed from that country, you might avoid double-taxation if it has agreed to a tax treaty with Germany. If so, you can do that by filling the Anlage AUS – Ausländische Einkünfte for your declaration. More info about that here.

I have left the country already, can I try to do a tax return and will the Finanzamt transfer the money to my foreign bank account?

Absolutely, you can do a tax return in Germany for the year you left the country. The Finanzamt will transfer you the money in your foreign account if you give them all the necessary information, and a specific request to do so. You will very likely support the costs of the transfer on your own.


I hope this overview helped you to get started on the topic. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. All comments are read. Answers in the comments do no constitute professional advice and should not be treated as such. When comments can’t be answered, i usually recommend other solutions or resources. 🙂

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

1,240 Comments

  • Reply Monica Dasi 24/02/2020 at 10:37

    Hi, thank you. The information was really helpful. However I have quick question regarding my tax returns,I have worked in Germany on a work permit for 6 months from June – November 2017. I currently reside in India. I have submitted my tax returns for 2017 on 25th October 2019.The tax returns calculation showed by online tax tools was around 2900 Euros and I got the tax return on 20th Feb 2020 around 792 Euro. If there any mistake that happened or if tax office had sent some document to my past German address and i didn’t reply . How can I correct this and get the full tax refund. What all options are available ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/02/2020 at 21:40

      Hey Monica. It’s probably best to talk to a Steuerberater so they can represent you and fix this.

  • Reply Anishka Gupta 22/02/2020 at 09:24

    Hi,

    Thank you for the great article!

    I worked in Germany as an intern for 48 days. My company and immigration consultant suggested not to register at the townhall as I was working for a short time and did not stay at a leased apartment (booked hotel instead). As a result of this I did not receive any tax ID and was automatically assigned tax class 6 leading to heavy tax deductions. I have already left Germany. Can I file the tax return without a tax ID?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2020 at 18:18

      Hey Anishka. I don’t have a really good source on this so i can’t really tell and by default would say that it’s not possible.

  • Reply Grace Maria 21/02/2020 at 23:05

    Hello, I have a question about my Steuer ID. I left Germany last year in October and did my abmeldung and cancelled all insurance etc. However, now I am back and have re-registered in a new Apartment and I would like to know if I will now receive a new Steuer ID or if it will be the same one as I had before? Thank you very much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2020 at 18:02

      Hey Grace. Have you read this post? Do you mean your Steuernummer or Steuer Identifikationsnummer now?

  • Reply Emilija 20/02/2020 at 20:21

    Hello,

    I am not sure if this question was answered here before but maybe you could help me 🙂
    I am originally from Lithuania and I have worked in Germany for almost 2 months throughout the summer of 2019 (it was only a summer job there). I would like to make a tax income return for overpayed taxes. Maybe you know exactly what needs to be done in my case if I am not a local citizen of Germany and I would like to do a taxes (that I payed in Germany) by myself? Just trying to avoid the service fee here but if it’s comparably low, that works too! 🙂

    Thank you in advance,
    Emilija

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2020 at 17:58

      Hey Emilija. If you were not a German resident at the time, you’d be paying your income tax in Lithuania probably. Probably you need to do a tax return there. Check if there are any double tax agreements between Germany and Lithuania.

  • Reply Narco 03/02/2020 at 18:59

    Hi,
    I’m work in Germany and my wife is student in my native country. Usually she comes to visit me every month. My question is, can I declare this airplane ticket bills even if the tickets are with her name??? Thanks a lot. I appreciate.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:31

      Hey Narco. There is not a case that jumps to my mind that would make this possible.

    • Reply AR 22/02/2020 at 17:09

      If you have double household (address in your native country), then yes it is possible: Double Household related costs
      Many expatriates relocate to Germany while their family is staying abroad. In that case it is possible to deduct double household related costs.
      Allowance for additional meal expenses (maximum of 24 € per day) for the first three months
      Rent in Germany (up to a monthly maximum amount of 1.000€)
      Flight and other travel costs to visit the family in home country (it is also possible to deduct the travel costs of the family for traveling to Germany)

  • Reply SAM 03/02/2020 at 16:06

    Hi Bastien,

    Many thanks for the useful information.

    I was wondering if the tax refund influences the decision for getting a German permanent residentship?
    I was told, it may have a negative impact on my PR application, which I am going to apply within this year.

    Thanks for your response in advance,
    Nazanin

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:29

      Hey there. I have no idea about this. Who told you that? I’m interested!

      • Reply Viswanathan 24/02/2020 at 17:11

        Hello Nazanin,
        This is absolutely wrong. You tax refund has nothing to do with your PR application in foreign office. If you have taken social benefits like arbeitslosgeld, then it may negatively influence the decision. You get Tax refund only when you have paid taxes in excess. By all means, as a Tax Payer you are only going to have an advantage.
        Vish

  • Reply Michael mackie 03/02/2020 at 15:35

    Hi there I’m a uk National & resident but I worked in Serbia for 6 weeks but for a German company and I was taxed at 37% plus I was put in the wrong tax band as I have a daughter who lives with me..I also paid church tax and I didn’t earn more than the German tax free allowance of €9169 but I still earned for the 6 weeks just over €9000 am I entitled to do a return and will I get it all back

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:27

      Hey Michael. If you are a UK resident, refer to your domestic laws. I can’t help you any further.

  • Reply derrick 31/01/2020 at 19:09

    Hi Bastein,
    i am also a student in Germany, and my question is that, In what worse situation can one suppose not go in for the tax return.? Because i dont know whether i do qualify as a student to go in for my returns after my 6months of working alongside studies

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:34

      Hey Derrick. As a student, if you don’t qualify for any the reasons listed in the post, it’s not compulsory to do a tax return.

  • Reply Prashant 31/01/2020 at 16:21

    Hi, I have a Tax class 3, and i assumed that my wife should have tax class 5. We filed the tax returns last year, when i found that her tax class is 4 and not 5. Is this possible? Do we need to change her to 5 ?

  • Reply Rash 29/01/2020 at 14:57

    Hi
    I want to know in which form i can add my wife travelling cost to school and fee for german courses.
    Thanks in advance

  • Reply Grant 28/01/2020 at 23:47

    Hi Bastien, thanks for the great website!
    I’m married and tax class 3 because my spouse has no job here. She does not have and didn’t pay for any health insurance. (we moved from UK and she has the free European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) from NHS).
    However, I am requested to attach a receipt of health insurance for her. What can I do? We didn’t know it was mandatory.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2020 at 15:14

      Hey Grant. Yes, it’s mandatory for all German residents. I suppose you can always try to send in a copy of the said card but i don’t know if it would be considered valid…

      • Reply Moataz 09/02/2020 at 21:21

        Moin,

        I am Student, and I have earned more than 9000€ in 2019, Will I get my taxes back?

        What type of expenses I could mension to decrease this high number when they count,… would semester contribution or room rent in government dorm, private health insurance do it?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2020 at 09:37

          Hey Moataz. Yes, you can still get a positive tax return. Semester fees yes, your dorm room only if you can prove that this your second residence and that you still pay at least 10% of the costs of your main residence somewhere else in Germany. Private health insurance, i dont know. Source.

    • Reply Jelena 03/02/2020 at 08:24

      Hey,

      EHIC should only be used for up to three months, after that you are considered to be using your right of free movement in the EU and you need proper German health insurance. Are you insured by law (public insurance)? If so, I would contact your Krakenkasse and apply retroactively for family insurance for her, starting 90 days after she entered the country to join you in Germany. It might work. Otherwise, the voluntary contribution is 190 euros per month, you might have to pay that as a lump sum.

  • Reply Diki 28/01/2020 at 13:00

    Hello,
    So I sent all documents for tax return for the year of 2017, back in 2019. They sent a couple of letters back calculated my tax and everything and it was all fine. So after some time (still no money received) I got a letter they want another document “Einkommensteuer” for 2018. Problem is I haven’t worked there in 2018 and have no tax whatsoever. In the letter they sent me it says I can get a penalty for up to 25K if I don’t send the forms but as I said I don’t have connections with 2018 whatsoever. What should I do? I don’t want to pay penalties now…

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2020 at 15:17

      Hey Diki, you might want to check with a Steuerberater for this but if you were a German resident in 2018 but didn’t work or have any income, you can still send in the documents and put O in the income fields where relevant. If you were not a German resident in 2018, you might have to prove that to the Finanzamt.

  • Reply Iris 27/01/2020 at 21:32

    Hi. My husband worked for 40 days onboard a fishing vessel from Germany in early 2019. Does he have to hand in a tax return in Germany for those 40 days. We live in Norway if that is relevant.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2020 at 15:23

      Hey Iris. You might want to check with a tax advisor back home, but as a Norwegian resident, you probably will pay your taxes in Norway. Check if there are tax agreements between Norway and Germany regarding that matter. Have you read this post?. But there might also be special cases depending on the boat’s registration country, if it were in international waters, etc.

  • Reply Sab 21/01/2020 at 15:21

    Hello. Very useful article, thank you!
    I just submitted a tax return. In 2019 I changed jobs and in between was 1 month unemployed.
    My coworker, who started working with me on the second job (we have the same income, steuerklasse, etc.) and only had 1 job for 5 months, received more than half higher tax return than me, who had 2 jobs through the whole year.
    Does this have something to do with change of the employer? So, if you change jobs you get much less tax return?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/01/2020 at 17:28

      Hey Sab. You’d need to have a Steuerberater look into this. There are so many parameters than can impact your return. It’s hard to say within the comments section.

      • Reply Adit Bhargava 15/02/2020 at 11:28

        Hello,

        Thanks for the article. It helped me a lot.
        I have a question :
        I have to do my tax declaration for 2018.i was working 5 months as a student and rest 7 months as an employee. Do I need to put all the income in Anlage N? Or only as that of an employee. The problem is I lost one of my salary slips when I was a student, also I don’t have a Lohnsteuerbescheinigung from my employer when I was a student. Can I get some document from. FINANZSAMT stating my whole income during that year? So that I can get the exact numbers and I can fill my returns? If yes, where can I get that
        Thanks

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/02/2020 at 20:45

          Hey Adit. Your employers are obligated by law to provide you with a Lohnsteuerbescheinigung so just request it from them again.

  • Reply Thomas 20/01/2020 at 23:04

    Hi there thanks for all the great info! I have recently left Germany (back to NZ) permanently after completing a working holiday on a working holiday visa. I am trying to do a tax return for 2019 . I have tried both steuergo and wundertax but they both require me to have a registered address in Germany. How is it possible to do a tax return when you no longer live in the country? Also do you know how to apply to get the pension tax back?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/01/2020 at 10:00

      hey thomas. See here for the pension refund.

      • Reply Kiara 23/01/2020 at 13:55

        Hi, what are the implications of delayed mandatory tax declarations? I didn’t know it was mandatory to declare for me and my husband due to the tax combination, my tax advisor says we have to pay 20K + interest + delay fee for 4 years and that the Finamzamt may declare this tax crime . We are scared !

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/01/2020 at 17:40

          Hey Kiara. I would trust your Steuerberater on this. In doubt, you can always ask a second-opinion with somebody else. It sounds plausible but you may also argue for your case and reduce the penalty possibly.

          • Kiara 23/01/2020 at 18:49

            Thanks for your fast reply. Do you know if there are other implications more than just paying the fees ? For example visa problems ?

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2020 at 14:25

            Hey Kiara. I am not aware of such problems. You should ask a lawyer or Steuerberater.

        • Reply Jelena 03/02/2020 at 08:34

          Hey Kiara,

          Tax crimes are usually considered to be against public policy, which means they might not accept you as a citizen further down the line. I’m not sure about other types of residency/visas, it might impact them, too, so I would get help and fight it as hard as possible if I were you.

  • Reply Premkishan 09/01/2020 at 13:31

    Hello, I was working as an intern for last 6 months in Germany. And due to some miscommunication my tax class was 6 instead of tax class 1. Therefore, I paid 350 Euros as a tax instead of 80 Euros. Now, will I get all my tax back from Finanzamt or I need to do any other process to claim all the tax? My Brutto salary for those 6 months is around 9500 Euros

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/01/2020 at 09:53

      Hey Premkishan. If you have the correct tax class now, you will be able to get some of this back yes, with a “standard” tax return.

  • Reply Christina 05/01/2020 at 11:33

    Hello!

    Thank you for your website, so many great advices 🙂
    Do you know, SteuerGo still doesn’t support if you received income from foreign employee last year? Does it mean, they don’t have Anlage AUS formula? Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/01/2020 at 14:33

      Hey Christina. It’d be best to ask Steuergo directly.

  • Reply Dirk 03/01/2020 at 15:06

    Great article, just a question about VAT. I registered recently and the Finanzamt asked me to fill in a Umsatzsteuererklärung f0r 2019.
    In 2019 I was selling below the threshold and did not have any inventory stored in Germany. Where do I fill in my sales in Elster?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/01/2020 at 14:32

      Hey Dirk. Which threshold now? There is a form called Umsatzsteuererklärung 2019 on Elster.

  • Reply Bojan 02/01/2020 at 13:24

    Hello,

    Thank you very much for the usefull informations. I have one question that is specific to my case. I arrived in Germany in December 2018. Since then, I am in tax class 1. I do have wife and child abroad and we are still in visa-waiting process for them, I expect this to be finished this January. When they get visa, I will be able to change tax class form 1 to 3, and also 5 for my wife.

    Will we be able to get the tax back for this time while we were waiting for entry visa (if I change tax class in january 2020) or are we too late now?
    Thanks!
    Bojan

    • Reply ~Bojan 02/01/2020 at 13:28

      To clarify, what I want to ask is difference in tax ammount between tax class 1 and 3 for the whole year, because I am married since 2016, but untill we get family visa I can not change tax class. Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/01/2020 at 10:38

      Hey Bojan. It will be possible only for the month of January.

  • Reply Celia Thomas 09/12/2019 at 13:29

    Hello, thanks for the blog which is great. Could you please point me to the link to how to request an extension for filing with the finanzamt? I wasn’t able to find it online. Greatly appreciate what you do here.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/12/2019 at 00:13

      Hey Celia. It’s best to do via good ol’ post. here is a template you can use.

      • Reply Musti 17/12/2019 at 21:51

        Hello,
        Thank you for this post. I have a very basic question, I and my wife have already spent over 4000 Euro for learning German. Can we deduct this amount? If so, how much money should I expect?
        Thanks in advance.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/12/2019 at 15:56

          Hey Musti. Yes probably.

  • Reply James 05/12/2019 at 18:44

    Hi Bastien,
    I have a very specific question. My wife and I got married in Australia in January but, due to various things getting in the way, we have not yet registered the marriage in Germany. I have a job but my wife is a student with no income, so I understand that we must submit a tax return for 2019. I intend to do this through an accountant, but I have a question about the marriage registration. Will the German government take our date of marriage as January 2019 or will they use the date of the registration of the mariage in Germany? Also, must we register the marriage this year in order to have it counted for our 2019 tax return, or can we wait until next year to register tha marriage? Obviously we will need to register before submitting a tax return. Any help you could provide would be great, thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/12/2019 at 00:30

      Hey James. You can ask your accountant directly about this. I believe the recognition date will serve as a basis for calculation.

  • Reply Daniel Fernandez 05/12/2019 at 18:09

    Hey! Great article 🙂

    I wanted to ask a question: I’m an international student living in Berlin. I want to work on websites like Fiverr, UpWork, as well as using Patreon to get paid with donations.

    1. If I do so, do I have to declare to the Finanzamt that I’m getting paid online? How does the taxes thing work?

    2. Does PayPal have anything to do with the german taxes? (example: If I get donations on PayPal from my family, or if I transfer money from PayPal to my german bank account, do I have to declare that too?)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/12/2019 at 00:31

      Hey Daniel. Then you’d probably need to register as a freelancer. Complete guide this way. 1. Yes, definitely. See guide for details. 2. Any and all income should be declared, even donations.

  • Reply Donatas 04/12/2019 at 11:23

    Hello, sorry if this is a stupid question, I moved to germany in october and started working at amazon on October 15th, my contract ends at the end of the year so in January I plan to leave Germany. Since I will have worked in germany for 2.5 months, will I be eligible for tax refund after New Year? If so:
    1. Can I request it once I have left Germany (de-registered and all..) and am in my home country?
    2. Do I have to prepare some documents in advance or I will be able to get all necessary documents online?

  • Reply FS 03/12/2019 at 23:07

    Hi, Can I receive a tax return if I submit my form too late? Say after 5 years?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2019 at 16:01

      Hey Mohammed. No.

    • Reply AR 22/02/2020 at 17:13

      Without the penalty of 25€ per month, the maximum seems to be 2 years later. But via an accountant/Steuerberatung, you have more time.

  • Reply Quyet 02/12/2019 at 21:38

    Hi. Thank you for your great sharing. I want to ask you that I was taxed class 1 for single person although I got married and my wife was studing in Germany when I started my job. The reason is we have a foreign notarized marriage certificate and German authorities did not accept it. When I have worked for 6 months, my wife came back to our homecountry. Now if I show them my legal marriage certificate, can I get the tax return for 6 months? I should have tax class 3 instead of class 1. My wife did not have a job at that time when I started my job. Which documents do I need to send to local tax apartment? Thank you for your advice.

  • Reply Om 28/11/2019 at 12:26

    Hi, thanks for the great article! I have a question. My wife (German) just started work last month, can she apply for tax refund now (and get it now) or does she have to wait for a certain period? Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/11/2019 at 09:31

      Hey Om. It can first be done in 2020 for 2019.

  • Reply Louise 27/11/2019 at 16:07

    Hello !

    Thanks for this article. I would like to know where could I get those documents for 2019 ? I only find them with 2018 noted on it.
    ESt 1 V 2018
    Anlage N 2018
    Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand 2018

    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/11/2019 at 09:24

      Hey Louise. 2019 documents will be available in 2020.

  • Reply KT 27/11/2019 at 15:34

    Thank you for this post, it is really helpful. I have a question: I work as a designer in a company but also do freelance projects. For these freelance projects, I need to buy a drawing iPad. Can I submit this as an expense for work so the tax office can return part of the money? Is this possible? Thank you in advance.

  • Reply Jostein Thomassen 27/11/2019 at 00:53

    Hi!

    I live in Norway, and have my main job and a side job here.
    I have recently begun to sell on the German market through Amazon.de and through my own webshop.

    * Is there any special forms to add for this situation?
    * What might be the easiest tool for me to deliver the TAX-documents.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/11/2019 at 09:20

      Hey Jostein. I can’t comment on business related matters from a foreign country. Get in touch with a tax consultant instead.

  • Reply Saeid 21/11/2019 at 11:06

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for this informative article. I have a problem and I will be more than happy if you address it. I’m employed here in Germany since Dec. 2018, however, due to some bank account problems I started to be paid from 2019. As you may have guessed, I paid a lot because all my saleries (including the one belonging to 2018) was paid in 2019 and they thought I’m really rich :). I filled the tax return for 2018 and I just got the result. It says there is no income on 2018. So now I want to know two things. First, will they pay me back the additional money that was taken from my 2019 income when I fill 2019 tax return? And secondly, as I was employed only for one month in 2018 (only December), technically I should have paid no taxes for 2018 because the whole income was less than 8000 euros or so. So will I also be paid back my taxes for 2018?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:41

      Hey Saeid. That’s a specific question for which you probably need the help of a Steuerberater. I cannot tell you how much you might get back because there are many parameters deciding this, which requires proper time and attention.

  • Reply Hyari 18/11/2019 at 13:07

    Hello, I am a student, and I did two internships. during the period I got transferred from tax class 1 to tax class 6 then back to tax class 1 again; do I get back the taxes I paid?
    what documents do I need to submit?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:24

      Hey Hyari. I cant possibly say, depends on many many parameters as a tax payer. What documents to submit are listed in the post.

  • Reply Ausländer 14/11/2019 at 20:07

    Hi.

    I had a house in Germany which I sold a couple of years ago, and then returned to the UK to live. I filled out a Steuererklärung for the sale of the house at the start of last year, (and was given a Steuernummer). Later last year I received a notice telling me that I had no tax to pay (as I expected). So I thought no more about it.

    Fast-forward to this year, I’ve just received an Erinnerung at my UK address telling me that I am late in filing my Steuererklärung for last year (i.e. the year after the year I sold the house) — and telling me that I may be fined up to 25000 € for filing it late! Presumably the fact that I was given a Steuernummer when I sold my house means that the Finanzamt now expects me to send in tax returns every year.

    I am British and am now permanently resident in the UK. I own no German property. I have no income at all from Germany. (I have money in a German bank account, but it is in a Girokonto and earns no interest.)

    What do I do, please?! Do I have to fill out German Steuererklärungen every year for the rest of my life, even though I no longer live in Germany and have no German income?!

    Any help much appreciated!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 11:51

      Hey there. This is out of my league at is relates to property tax and such. Better ask a professional.

  • Reply Son 06/11/2019 at 14:22

    Hi, thanks a lot for great information!
    I have a question. I applied my tax refund for last year (2018) by myself but I couldn’t get any refund. (actually I have to pay 2 euro more..)
    So I called to the finanzamt but they said my institute already calculated my tax quite efficienttly so there’s no money back. However, other colleagues in the institute got the tax refund properly. I think I applied something wrong or missed some important information on the document. Is it possible to check and claim my tax refund again for 2018? and do you know how I can do it? Thanks!

  • Reply Marlene Ang 31/10/2019 at 23:06

    Hi, would it be possible to declare for life insurance i paid in US Dollar from Insurance company from other country? (international insurance coverage from my previous place of work/live in Singapore). if yes how to declare US dollar in tax return? thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2019 at 09:23

      Hey Marlene. I suggest you get in touch with a Steuerberater for that.

  • Reply PAblo 25/10/2019 at 11:06

    Hi ! This is very useful!

    I have a question , hopefully you can give me some advice.

    I made my tax declaration fro the year 2018 this year around February. Then I got a letter from the Finanzamnt with the tax refund that I should receive (around 2500 €) . Everything nice. Then , a week ago I got a letter from the Finanzamnt again saying that there has been a mistake in the calculation( I used google to translate the letter) and that instead of 2500€, I should have only received 2300 €. There is no explanation about the calculation… is this common? Can I appeal somehow?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/10/2019 at 09:07

      Hey Pablo. You can always appeal the decision of course, and ask why the difference is there now. I just don’t know if you would want to get into this. That’s a lot of time and energy, but up to you.

  • Reply karolina kacka 25/10/2019 at 10:51

    Dear Bastian,

    I have a quick question about my tax declaration for 2018- I need to fill it by 6.11.2019 and this year decided to do it on my own 🙂
    Last year 2018 i was working full time from January until 31 July. On 31 July I quit my job and registered myself as unemployed but not a job seeker since I went directly on a sick leave.

    From 1 August until 31 December I was on a long term medical sick-leave and TK Krankenkasse was paying for my social benefits.

    Can I use Steuer Erklrärung online Platform ( or any other online TAX support ) app in my situation? Will it be possible to declare two separate situation half year as full employed Str. Klasse I and then my unemployment benefits with TK Krankenkasse ?

    I am sure someone else already asked this question but I would be great full für your answer!

    Have a good weekend everyone

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/10/2019 at 09:06

      Hey Karolina. Yes, those situations are supported by online platforms.

  • Reply Mehdi 10/10/2019 at 17:05

    Hi!
    This is really helpful.
    I have a question that I was wondering if you could answer it. I was an employee for half a year in a university and for the rest of the year I got a scholarship. I was wondering how should I fill the forms in SteuerGo? Is there an option that I fill both for that particular year?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2019 at 15:42

      Hey Mehdi. You will be able to fill in both types of incomes yes.

  • Reply Siri Shankar 08/10/2019 at 11:50

    Hi

    This was a great information to know.
    I am a Indian and have worked in Germany for two years (1 year as a student and another year a full time employment). I was heard that if i leave the country before 5 years from the time of Arrival, I will be getting back all the taxes paid. Hence i have not applied for any of the Tax refund.
    not sure whom to contact about this. should i get in touch with any of the TAX Consultant.
    Looking forward for some leads.

  • Reply Maria Zambrano 30/09/2019 at 23:07

    Hello Bastian,

    Again, thank you so much for your information and the answer to all the posts. It has helped me a lot. I have a question for you: my husband is in class 3 and I am in class 5. He had a job the full year 2018 but I only worked less than 4 months, therefore, I paid very little tax. Is it more likely that we will have to pay additional costs to the Finanzamt or that we will get a refund?

    Thanks.

  • Reply She 28/09/2019 at 22:06

    Hello,

    Thank you for these great information!
    I just need to confirm. For the one you mentioned about paying 25€, should I pay this first then I will know the amount of my refund? Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/09/2019 at 22:56

      Hey She. First, when you submit, which is after you know how much you get back.

      • Reply She 30/09/2019 at 08:55

        Oh thank you for your reply! Just another question, how can I submit also the other supporting docs or proofs like bank receipts/ OR. Can everything be done online, including submission of documents?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/10/2019 at 15:14

          Hey She. Nowdays, you just submit those things on demand, when the Finanzamt requests it. Then, if needed, you can proceed via email.

          • She 01/10/2019 at 15:20

            Thank you so much!!

  • Reply Ahmed Abdelfattah 20/09/2019 at 09:15

    Hi
    I work full time and my wife is on a DAAD scholarship. I understand she is exempt from Taxes so I applied to change from 4/4 to 3/5 as I thought from Finanzamt point of view she has no income. Am I correct? Will her scholarship salary be affected ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/09/2019 at 16:27

      Hey Ahmed. Well, she has income, but it’s not taxable.

  • Reply Patricia 19/09/2019 at 14:18

    Hi Bastien, thanks for the good work. Tax return is based on a formula income less expenses, that means if your income is like 3 times more of what you really spent, chances are you have to return a lot of money correct? If that´s the case, are you are how it works? Imagine income 10K, expenses 3k = 7k what I have to return should be a percentage of this 7k correct? Do you anything about it?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/09/2019 at 16:25

      Hey Patricia. The unfortunate answer to this is: it depends. On your family situation, particular expenses, income sources, etc…

  • Reply Mara 16/09/2019 at 09:51

    Hello,
    I got my tax refund from outside the airport (in Marin plats munch) but I failed to stamp my receipts for final stamp. and my registered Credit card got stolen and now I don’t how to pay them the tax refund? what are the legal actions towards me of the failure of paying the tax?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/09/2019 at 11:15

      Hey Mara. I don’t know, this post is about tax return for German residents.

  • Reply Praveen 13/09/2019 at 08:46

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    In Year 2018 I have worked in Germany for 3 months, My company said, I dont need to register in Rauth house as my stay is not more than 3 months. Hence I have not registered. During my tax returns, officer said, I have not registered my name in Rauth house. Later when we explained the situation to tax officer not mandatory rauth-house registration for less than 3 months stay in Germany. Officer saying i am not stayed more than 6 months hence no returns. Where as all my friends got returns in same situations. I request you to help. I am from India.

    • Reply Praveen 30/09/2019 at 11:33

      Can any one help me with my query?

  • Reply Paola 12/09/2019 at 19:29

    Hi,
    I have a student job in which I earn 433 a month, my only income. Do I need to pay taxes or do the tax declaration?

  • Reply Ann 10/09/2019 at 12:53

    Hello,
    Could anyone help me with this situation? My husband works full time and he has family health-insurance. He has tax claim refund every year. Now I am offered a mini job (<450€/month) without paying tax and no health-insurance covered. If I take the job, will my husband’s tax claim refund decrease?
    Thank you very much.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/09/2019 at 21:01

      Hey Ann. I suggest you use a taxation simulator to figure this out.

  • Reply Tan 08/09/2019 at 22:00

    Hi,
    I have a problem to save proceed with the cost i want to submit for §35 for both 72 and 73.
    what should i name it for the Art der Aufwendungen?
    72. Heizkosten
    73. Handwerkerkosten
    what i should i put as both above seem error.
    thanks for helps.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/09/2019 at 20:51

      Hey Tan. Which costs do you mean?

  • Reply Shishri Uppangala 05/09/2019 at 12:20

    Hi,
    thanks for a great article.
    If I want claim for 4 years tax return. How could I do it?
    Is it possible by Steurgo?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2019 at 15:42

      Hey there. yes it is.

  • Reply GIULIA MONTRESOR 03/09/2019 at 22:44

    Hello, I have a question, I have two contracts, with different Steuerklass numbers. Therefore I feel I cannot fill in one unique Steuerklarung form, but the one downloaded from elster, only has one page per year with the entry for one Steuererklarung only. Therefore, I dont find space for two separate declarations. How is that supposed to work? Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2019 at 15:52

      Hey Giulia, is it because you have a Nebenjob or Minijob?

  • Reply EG 22/08/2019 at 15:59

    Hi and thank you for the great article! I have a question: I have lived in Germany since 2013, receiving a non-taxable Stipendium during my doctoral studies. Now I will start soon a real, full-time, contract job, with the taxes paid by my employer, obviously. Do I get to send a tax return form to claim my expenses for the last years? Do I have an option at all in that regard?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/08/2019 at 13:52

      Hey EG. Yes, that is possible.

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