Tax return in Germany for foreigners made easy – Steuererklärung

It’s that time of the year again: the time to do your tax return in Germany otherwise known as “Steuererklärung”.  Yes sir/m’am, you’ll be able to get money back, and sometimes up to a few thousand euros. We show you how in this step by step guide.

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 you won’t have any problems with your Finanzamt if you forgot to file your tax statement. As an employee, you are taxed every month off your wage. If your salary is your only income, 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.

The average tax return in Germany is close to 1000€ nation-wide. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?

Should i be doing one?

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

Income sources

  • Additional income (not from salary) superior to 410€.
  • Salary replacement income (like unemployment benefits) superior to 410€.
  • 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 do it, as there are chances you get money back too.

So how can I do my tax return in Germany?

If you are confident enough to do it on your own, do as follow. Otherwise, jump to the next title.

First you have to make sure you get all the right papers. It is recommended to download the forms directly from the official website this way : here.
(Click on the right hand side on “Einkommensteuer mit allen Anlagen”)

If you are an employee , you need the following forms (e.g for 2018) :

  • ESt 1 V 2018 (The main form that details general info like your adress, iD nummer,etc)
  • Anlage N 2018 (The form to detail your income as an employee)
  • Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand 2018 (The form to detail your insurances)

If you are self-employed, you need the following forms (e.g for 2018) :

  • Est 1A 2018
  • Anlage S 2018 (Freelancers only)
  • Anlage G 2018 (Gewerbetreibende only)
  • Anlage USt 2018 (if you pay V.A.T)
  • Anlage GeSt 1A 2018 (Gewerbetreibende only)
  • Anlage EÜR (If turnover is more than 17 500€ a year)

On this website,  it is also possible to download an official tool called ELSTER (ELektronische STeuerERklärung) onto your computer. This tool enables you to proceed to your tax return in Germany via the internet, 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.

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.

What now?

  1. Print the forms out.
  2. Sign them.
  3. Find a post office.
  4. Send them to your local Finanzamt.
  5. Done !

Wait for 1 or 2 months before you get any answer, and hopefully, a little ka-ching will appear on your bank account so you can afford this awesome guitar you spotted, or else, paying for your holidays to Croatia.

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. You might consider SteuerGo for example that i can really recommend for employee and freelancers alike, especially if it’s your first time.

  • Your hand is really guided step-by-step with the tool in a clean interface.
  • Save progress at any time when you register for a free account.
  • It’s also fully in English (!) at every step of the process.
  • You can even call a hotline if you have questions.
  • For self-employed people, it also lets you do
    additional forms like (Einnahmenüberschussrechnung (EÜR), Umsatz- und Gewerbesteuererklärung).
  • It only costs 25€ which is perfect when you don’t earn enough to afford a Steuerberater.

They also let you know in real-time how much you are getting back so you know if it’s worth the one-time-fee. No need to pay anything before submitting to the Finanzamt (they also do that for you). You can give it a spin for free. 🙂

SteuerGo does not support one thing for employees though: 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:


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 obliged 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 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.

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 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 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 for the year and months 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.

Ps 1 : Don’t forget to sign all those forms, otherwise they won’t be processed by your dear Finanzamt !

Ps 2 : If you feel like you are running out of time, you can let know your Finanzamt 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.


  • Reply Matthew Roberts 29/01/2019 at 10:37

    Hi Bastien, really doing a great job with all the information here.
    I have a question which I couldnt find the answer to in the comments/forum:
    I have been working in Germany for 4 years, (single, steuerklasse I) with no side income, and for the tax year 2017 I forgot to file my tax return, as I had no costs and no change in income, I was also told there is no point, however now I have tax deduction for 2018 (rente verischerung), the question is can I file a tax return for 2018 without doing the 2017 return?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2019 at 12:04

      Hey Matthew. Yes.

      • Reply Matthew Roberts 29/01/2019 at 17:13

        Hi Bastien,

        Thanks for the quick response!

  • Reply Dzoni 29/01/2019 at 00:07

    Hello Bastien, thank you so much for lot of useful informations. I hope i want bothering you with question. Finanzamt give me a steuerklas I though i am married. I have been this class almost year until my wife join me this month. Do i have right to ask for payback from Finanzamt for being “wrong” class. I have come to Germany on Blue Card.Thx in Advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2019 at 09:31

      Hey Dzoni. Yes, it is possible. More info here.

  • Reply Yuki 26/01/2019 at 22:23

    Hello I have a question regarding the cost carry forward from my study. For example, I have EUR1,000 cost carried forward from 2016, and EUR3,000 income in 2017, which is lower than the basic allowance and no tax is paid. Is this EUR1,000 set off against the EUR3,000 income? Or I can continue to carry the EUR1,000 forward to 2018 since there is no tax in 2017? Thank you very much.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2019 at 09:40

      Hey Yuki. I can’t really answer that question on such little info i’m afraid. Many other parameters to take into account. Sorry.

  • Reply ss 24/01/2019 at 01:15

    Hi Bastien, I’m fully employed and my wife is a housewife until 2017 so my tax class is 3/5. So last year my wife registered as a freelancer but her income is from one same client only in entire 2018 due to the difficulty of finding a different client. She has stopped working with that client and now my concern is if I do the tax return this year, will we get fined and will that also cause my tax class to be changed?

    Also, her freelance income is all located outside of EU and the income never gets transferred into bank account in EU. Do you have any advice on what is the best we can do? Should I file my tax return this year or wait until the 4th year?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 11:05

      Hey ss. in my opinion, this is how it looks: if there any adjustment to be made about your tax class, your Finanzamt will do that automatically, to be reflected on your payslip after a while. I don’t see any reason why you should get in trouble. She is resident in Germany, thus she should declare all her income regardless of where it comes from. It’s up to you to decide if you file it now or wait. I guess you should look at the possible savings if you do it together with you wife, since she probably had a lower income that you.

  • Reply Laura 23/01/2019 at 20:58

    Dear BASTIAN,
    THANK YOU FOR ALL THIS INFORMATION. I am Laura, last year I had part-time (basic job) employment throughout the year. I am not a freelancer. However, on November or December I had the opportunity to do some small design jobs offered by my professor. I got a werkvertrag that amount 3000 euros and says that I must declare the tax of this on my own. How do I do this?
    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 11:00

      Hey Laura. Was it under a mini-job basis or any similar contract?

      • Reply Laura 07/03/2019 at 13:32

        Dear Bastian, not really. I got half of the money one month and the other half the next month. It was not a minijob as my emplyment situation during the hole year was (part time job (800 month + minijob 360 month) except for those 2 months when i received that extra income.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/03/2019 at 16:25

          Hey Laura. It seems like you should have been a freelancer in order to do those jobs. Did they not expect an invoice from you at all?

  • Reply Ryan Bohn 22/01/2019 at 17:57


    Thanks for your details explanation!

    [… comment was removed by SiB Editor because it was giving away too much personal info.]

  • Reply Pam Donohoe 22/01/2019 at 14:41

    Helpful article, thank you! It will be my first time filing German taxes due to divorce, and this makes it a little less scary. My only source of income is a small amount of alimony, very little child support, and a savings account that was divided. I’m not employed. I’m not a freelancer. I’m a stay-at-home mom. How should I proceed? Any help is appreciated, thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 10:52

      Hey Pam. That’s a little bit out of my league. I only found information for the person paying the alimony (Anlage U here), and not the person receiving it. Sorry. 🙁

  • Reply Kate 21/01/2019 at 00:47

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you so much for all the info in this article.
    I have a couple of things I’d appreciate some insight on…
    I worked full time from beginning of 2015 until beginning of 2018. I was then made redundant and received a payoff which was taxed.
    I was then unemployed until end 2018, receiving Arbeitslosengeld.
    I need to file a tax return because of the payout I received and I’ve been told I should be able to re-claim some of the tax on this – is that correct?
    Secondly, does the fact that I’ve been getting Arbeitslosengeld (whilst searching for a job) positively or negatively affect the amount I get back, or would it have no influence?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 10:39

      Hey Kate. This case is too specific for me to answer to. You may want to ask an expert for a more qualified answer. Your ALG1 would not have any influence in my opinion.

      • Reply Patricia 29/01/2019 at 21:51

        Hi there! Great article and explanation!
        I have a related issue to this one. I I do my tax declarations since 2016, but in 2018 my situation has changed. I was working for a company until the end of July, then got into ALG1 from August to mid-September when I started my next employment.
        I’ll have 2 different Lohnsteuerbescheinigungen from the companies, but should I request any special document to the Finanzamt/Arbeitsamt to cover this short period I received ALG1? Can I also do it online as before? Thanks so much and keep up with the awesome work!

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/01/2019 at 15:21

          Hey Patricia. You’d need some sort of Bescheinigung from the Arbeitsagentur that mentions the total amount and time period your received ALG1. In your tax declaration, this should be declared in the Anlage N, under “Einkommenersatzleistungen”.

  • Reply Sameer 20/01/2019 at 23:28

    Hello dear,

    Thankyou very much for the information, but I have a question, I am on a work permit now and does claiming tax return would effect me future getting niederlassung ??

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 10:37

      Hey Sameer. In my opinion, there is no relationship between the 2. As a resident in Germany, you can do it.

  • Reply Amy 17/01/2019 at 18:06

    Thanks for all the effort and info on this site, it’s a life saver!
    I was wondering if you might be able to help me – I am a part-time employee and also registered as a freelancer. I spoke with Ageras in order to try to find a Steuerberater but they said that because my annual income was quite low there was no point and that I should complete my tax return myself. It will be my first time submitting a tax return and I want to make sure I’m doing everything correctly. Does having income as an employee and as a freelancer complicate things a lot? Would I be able to cover both incomes using a platform like Smartsteuer? Any tips you might have would be great. Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:21

      Hey Amy. Smartsteuer covers this case too. It only means your submit both Anlage S and N at the same time. It’s not necessarily more complex, just longer. Good luck!

    • Reply Richard 23/01/2019 at 20:21

      Contact us Amy.

  • Reply Shaik Mohmmad Mukthiar Ahmed 16/01/2019 at 18:08

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you very much for your information.
    I joined here in germany company on 18th January 2018 and my got dependent visa and she travelled here in Germany on 25th Dec 2018 and register address in Rathus on 28th dec 2018, so i heard that i will get more returns if i applied both me and my wife (I have changed my tax class to 3/5), please let me know what the process or I really get more returns.

    Appreciated for your reply.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:20

      Hey Shaik. if i’m correct, You probably changed tax classes too late in 2018 for the tax class change to make an impact on your pay slip yet. You can decide to do a joint declaration yes, which may lead to more returns.

  • Reply Rebecca 16/01/2019 at 13:44

    Hi Bastien,

    Very informative article! Do you know what the process is if you have worked in two places within the year? How do you show you had a break and two different forms of employment? 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:16

      Hey Rebecca, in this case, you would insert the infos from both employers (both Lohnsteuerbescheinigungen) in several Anlage N.

  • Reply Luke 15/01/2019 at 10:20

    Hi Bastien,
    very informative article, thank you for that. The previous two years I have filed a tax return at SteurGo and received a refund of 1k+ both years. My circumstances haven’t changed from the previous year and my only income is from my salary. I have now done a calculation on SteurGo for 2018 and I am negative 200. Is there an obligation to file a tax return every year once you begin? In other words, do I have to pay this 200 euros?
    Many thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:09

      Hey Luke. As a single employee, there is no obligation to submit a tax declaration.

  • Reply Charlie Wilson 14/01/2019 at 12:35

    Hi thanks for this. If I changed tax class from VI to I, will I automatically get the tax rebate or do I definitely have to file for it?

    The man in the Finanzamt said it would be automatic but I don’t think it will be…

  • Reply Michelle 14/01/2019 at 03:44

    Hi Bastien,

    Thanks for putting together all this great information. I was on a working holiday visa from Australia and did my tax return last year. I am now back in Australia and am unsure which Finanzamt to send my forms to- the same as I did last year which was my local one at the time?

    Any insights would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:04

      Hey Michelle. Your last Finanzamt should be fine.

  • Reply Sara 13/01/2019 at 10:10

    Hi, I’m trying to claim tax from January to June 2018. I moved from Germany to the UK on July 1st. I entered everything in the calculator, but I’m not sure if I need to give them details about my job in the UK (payslips or similar). I am not a German citizen, nor an EU citizen. I did my Abmeldung when I left Germany and I don’t even have the right to reside there anymore (I’d need a visa again). Do you know if I need to give them details about my salary or tax I paid here in the UK?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:46

      HEy Sara. Since you have been a UK resident for the majority of 2018, it is my opinion that you declare your German income in your UK return instead, but maybe check that again with a local specialist.

  • Reply Alana 13/01/2019 at 07:21

    I worked in Germany for almost a year in 2016/17 am I still able to lodge a return and if so how do I receive my employment tax statement? Thanks in advance, Alana

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:44

      Hey Alana, you should have received your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung directly from your employer last year. You are still able to do a return for 2016/17.

  • Reply saikiran kuyya 09/01/2019 at 21:39

    Hello, I recently filed a tax return for 2018 by using steuerGo website. It was shown that i will get a refund of 2776 euros. But in my tax statement maximum i can claim is 2661 euros. so, How much can i get ?. Your Response is highly Appreciated

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2019 at 13:39

      Hey Sai. That’s not possible for me to say as there are many parameters involved in the calculation. Sorry.

  • Reply Victoria 07/01/2019 at 00:59

    Hi there,

    I did the tax return for 2017 and was working March-December 2017: I had an interesting return of 713 EUR for 10 months.
    I just followed the same process (still on Wundertax website) for 2018, I worked January-December 2018 so 12 months BUT the estimation is 129 EUR.
    My job + income + company + health insurance etc… did not change at all.

    Do you know if year after year you get less?

    Thanks in advance,


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/01/2019 at 14:01

      Hey Victoria. That’s quite normal and happened to me too. The first year is more interesting because it accounts for the costs of searching and finding a job i believe. There is a little bonus for that if i am correct.

  • Reply Sudeep 07/01/2019 at 00:26

    Hi Bastien,
    I will be filing tax returns since 2015 (I was studying then) and only started working in mid 2017. My tuition fees (for Master’s) in total was around 21,000 fees (yes it was expensive). How should I go about filing the taxes. I tried SteuerGo but it did not allow me to put in educational expenses.

    Is it possible that total taxes might be less than the total refund I am eligible for? In that case would I lose the excess amount?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/01/2019 at 13:59

      Hi Sudeep, you may want to check that again. There is a field for this indeed. If you have been taxed more than you should have been, the excess will be refunded to you.

  • Reply Milan 02/01/2019 at 18:48

    Hello . I want to ask are tue forms for 2018 available ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/01/2019 at 12:35

      Hey Milan. yes.

  • Reply Banamalim 31/12/2018 at 23:43

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article.I started working here in Germany from the month of October 2018.Am I eligible to apply for Tax return for the last three months or is there any minimum duration you have to work.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2019 at 15:47

      Hey there Mishra. No minimum duration required.

  • Reply Karu 28/12/2018 at 11:12

    Hi Bastien, this is super great article, thank you.

    I have a question. This year (2018) i bought a house in Berlin, thus paying agents fee and tax to the city. What are the items i can take in consideration for the tax return this coming year ?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/12/2018 at 21:05

      Hey Karu. Unfortunately none of those fees can be put off in taxes when it comes to private (non-business) use. Source.

  • Reply Ishani 26/12/2018 at 12:40

    Hi Bastien,
    Do you know, where one could find an English version of the Gewerbesteuererklärung 2017 (2017GewSt1A701) on the internet? None of the official websites have it.
    Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/12/2018 at 21:12

      How about on ELSTER? It’s still there.

  • Reply Ankit 25/12/2018 at 12:28

    Very informational.

    One question: I came to berlin in nov 2018. I’m married and my wife would join me in Feb 2019 starting week. Currently I’m enrolled in tax class 1 and hence paying extra tax even though I’m married. Would it be possible for me to claim refund tax after my wife comes and I change my tax class? How can I proceed with this and when should I file for return? TIA.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/12/2018 at 21:07

      Hey Ankit. Not for the year 2018, that would be too late. However, you will be able to do that for Jan 2019. The possible “return” will be transferred to back to you, if applicable.

      • Reply Ankit 12/01/2019 at 22:07

        Thanks for the reply. That’s sad. 🙁

      • Reply Sanjay p 26/01/2019 at 10:36

        29/11/2018 my randa

  • Reply Paola González del Castillo 19/12/2018 at 12:39


    I am currently working at Bosch and I am leaving the company this Friday. I will go back to my home country Mexico and I wanted to process a request for getting my taxes back, can I do it even after my internship is over and I am back in Mexico? Or do I have to do it before leaving Germany?

  • Reply Barry McGrath 12/12/2018 at 21:51

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you so much for this article. I recently worked in Berlin from July til November this year, and was wondering how to go about applying for a tax refund. I’ve signed up to StauerGo, but couldn’t find a form for 2018. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/12/2018 at 09:28

      Hey Barry. Forms for 2018 will be made available in 2019. Just wait a few more weeks. 🙂

      • Reply Deepak 19/12/2018 at 10:46

        Hi Bastien,
        Does filing a tax return with SteuerGo count as filing with a Steuerberater and can I get an extension until Dec 31 in this case?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/12/2018 at 22:13

          Hey Deepak. No.

  • Reply John 12/12/2018 at 02:28

    Hey there, my Steuerberater recently charged me over 4000€ to file my taxes from 2017. From everything I read, this is super unreasonable…do you have any advice what I should do?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/12/2018 at 09:26

      Hey John. Prices can vary on the level of service. Depends what you hired the Steuerberater to do. I will just assume you are not self-employed, in which case yes, that’s a lot. Prices for a Steuererklärung are actually defined by law so you should look it up if it fits your case.

  • Reply Thuong 10/12/2018 at 00:19

    Hi Bastien,
    I would like to ask about SteuerGo software. How many years can the software help us declare the tax? Can I use the software to declare the year of 2016, 2017 and 2018 at the same time? Thanks for your support.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/12/2018 at 17:19

      Hey Thuong. Yes you can do taxes for those years as well.

  • Reply Jonathan 09/12/2018 at 08:32

    Hi there,
    I am a UK resident but have been working offshore in the North Sea on a German vessel for the past 2 years and now my contract has come to an end. Can I claim some of the taxes back that I have paid in Germany? I have been taxed each month at the maximum percentage.
    I would appreciate some insight please.
    Thank you Kindly.

  • Reply sneha saha 07/12/2018 at 13:21


    I studied in Stockholm, Sweden and then moved to Germany for work. Can I show my tuition fee which I paid in Sweden for tax return in Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/12/2018 at 21:34

      Hey Sneha, yes, i think that’s the case. I did that with my studies in France.

  • Reply Belen 05/12/2018 at 15:55


    I have read in some sites that if you file in class III/V as a married couple then you MUST submit a tax return at the end of the year. Is that true? My husband and I are registered in this tax class mostly because his salary was higher than mine (I only had part time jobs or no jobs at all)

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/12/2018 at 21:21

      Yes. You must do it.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/12/2018 at 21:22

      Hey Belen, As mentioned in the post; yes it is true. You must do it.

  • Reply Pietro 01/12/2018 at 14:07

    Hi there.
    I am leaving this country in 3 weeks time and I need to file my tax return for this year 2018 but there are absolutely no application forms neither in the finanzamts nor online for this year. I am a freelancer.
    Unfortunately there’s not help whatsoever in any other language except german from the clerks at the tax offices, so I really haven’t figured out how to solve this issue.
    Does anyone know where can I find these applications or how can I solve this situation in a very short time please?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/12/2018 at 20:58

      Hey Pietro. You can only do that in 2019. Just a little more patience!

  • Reply Prince 23/11/2018 at 23:32

    Hi Bastien,

    If I have been working since 2010 in Germany and I do not file for my tax return till now, is it possible to only file for the year 2017 or I have to file from the very year I started earning?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2018 at 15:08

      Hey Prince. If you are an employee, both options are possible.

  • Reply Madhavan 23/11/2018 at 07:38

    I need to know can we reduce the income tax with we have housing loans in INDIA.

  • Reply Saurav Bhattacharya 22/11/2018 at 21:19


    I have a question. I have been working in Germany since December 2016. But I have been married since November 2014. But since my wife worked outside of Germany from March 2016 until now, I was placed in Tax category 1. My wife is currently unemployed and is planning to come and stay with me in Germany from January 2019. I would get her registered here and change my tax category to III and my wife to V (hopefully). If I do that, say, in February 2019 and then file income tax returns for 2016-2018 (which I have not done yet), would I be refunded the amount of money that I would not have had to pay as tax (from 2016-2018) if my wife had stayed with me in Germany over that time period?

    Thanks a lot!

  • Reply Hamed 17/11/2018 at 17:20

    Hi Bastian,
    Thanks for your helpful explanations .
    I have a question regarding the tax return in case of getting married. I am not a citizen of European union and got married in 2017. From Januruy 2018 I moved to Germany as an employee. My tax class is I meaning I am paying the highest tax. My wife is also waiting for visa to come to Germany. My question is that can I file a tax return for the year 2018 for my marriage (i.e, paying tax beased on tax class III instead of I) if my wife arrives in Germany in 2019?
    I cannot change my tax class to III (and my wife to VI) in 2018 because my wife has not registered her address in Germany yet.

    Thanks in advance

  • Reply Dominika 17/11/2018 at 14:00

    Hi there,

    I was working full-time in Germany for 3 months in 2014 (minimum wage, tax class I), then I left for a few years and now I am back, but in another Land.

    I do not have any documents from that time. Is it worth it to chase this tax return and if so, am I able to request a new copy of the documents that I need?

    Also, does it impact my tax return that I have been receiving financial help from the Amt for some time after losing my job?

    Thanks for your help

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/11/2018 at 20:54

      Hey Dominika. You will need documents for that year to be able to prove expenses that might increase the chances of a tax return. If you don’t have them, it’s probably not a good idea to do it as you need to be able to prove everything. Re your second question: i don’t even know what financial help and what amt you are talking about.

  • Reply Ibrahim 07/11/2018 at 22:36

    thanks for the detailed explanation. It says above that I can apply for tax returns for 2 or 3 years and thus maximize the return. Do you mean for example that if I apply for 2017 and 2018 together, I could get return for 2017 higher than the return I would get for the same year if I apply for 2017 alone? Or you just mean that maximizing return is the sum of the 2 years?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/11/2018 at 09:55

      Hey Ibrahim. The wording was maybe not chosen wisely; i simply meant you can do both at the same time. It doesn’t impact on the return for an individual year.

  • Reply Liyana 05/11/2018 at 04:12


    Thank you so much for the detailed information. I’ll be doing a voluntary internship for 6 months, and being paid €1500/month. I’m also a non-eu citizen. Am I able to file for tax returns?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/11/2018 at 09:49

      Hey Liyana. If you are German resident, you will be able to file a tax return yes, just the same as anybody else.

  • Reply Marry 31/10/2018 at 03:58

    Hi Bastien.
    I am a Master’s student with part job and the salary of up to 700 € per month (netto); my “renteversicherung” is also deducted from my salary.
    I also teach English on a freelance basis; but it is only one class per every two months (witht the payment of 500 €)
    First: can I get a tax return, I mean get back the “rente” I have paid?
    Second: Do I have to make a tax decleration for that one class that I have?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/10/2018 at 10:46

      Hey Marry. First: no. Second: If it’s freelance, you should be registered as such and declare it under that status. More info there.

  • Reply Anna 23/10/2018 at 21:00

    Hey Bastien! I am employed as a photographer (Vollzeit Festeinstellung) and i bought a new laptop 6 months ago to be able to do more Freelancer jobs and look to change my career but I didn´t signed as a Freelancer yet. Will I be able to get some money back for it?
    Thank you so much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/10/2018 at 22:44

      Hey Anna. Maybe a Steuerberater would think otherwise, but i’d tend to say you couldn’t put that expense off as a business related one, since you aren’t even a freelancer yet.

  • Reply Sarah 17/10/2018 at 20:32

    Hi Bastien,
    Thanks for this info. I just recently registered (Oct 2018) as a kleinunternehme Gewerbebetrieb and I’m not sure what information I need to be keeping each month other than profits earned and business expenditure. And did I understand this page correctly that all I have to do is send off one form (the Anlage G 2017) and that’s all?

    Thanks so much

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/10/2018 at 14:02

      Hey Sarah, you will get your answers on this post here, in the tax related section.

  • Reply hugo Toledo dos santos 11/10/2018 at 21:56

    im finishing my work in Germany this month and moving abroad early November. my boss said he wont be able to give me my lohnsteuerbescheinigung before end of February next year. does it make any sense? or he should give me with my last payslip as it is the end of the employment agreement? where should i go to get advise about this ? thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/10/2018 at 10:27

      Hey Hugo. The last payslip you are receiving monthly; your employer will be able to send it sooner than that. Otherwise yes, the Lohnsteuerbescheinigung is not until next year.

  • Reply Deeksha 01/10/2018 at 12:13

    Thank you so much for the information.
    I also have a question regarding correcting the einkommensteur after 1 year.
    I paid einkommensteur for 2016 already in 2017 but Now, I released its wrong and they have charged me double though they have already taken money last year but is it possible to fix it now? I know within a month after receiving the Steuerbescheid its possible to fix but is there a way to reopen and solve the issue?
    Many thanks for any help!
    Kind regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/10/2018 at 10:09

      Hey Deeksha, you can use a Steuerberater to open/contest a case.

  • Reply Marc 27/09/2018 at 09:56

    Hi Bastien,

    Thank you very much for your explanation.

    I have a question on the rent for properties outside Germany. If I understand correctly, this should not be double taxed if there are agreement between states but should be declared.

    Does it means that my taxes will be calculated also on this additional income (being my tax base higher)? if this is true, it means that I will be double taxed indirectly also on these rents..

    Best regards,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:36

      Hey Marc, see this post that gives more detail on how income from abroad impact your taxable income.

  • Reply Anis Mazmouri 25/09/2018 at 09:52

    Dear Sirs,
    I bought an apartment in Germany in 2017 and i rented it for 454 Euro/month. I am not a resident in Germany and I am not an European citizen and I am married. The rent income is transferred every month into my German bank account. Do I need to fill the German tax form anyway ?

    Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:35

      Hey Anis. Have a look at this for more info.

  • Reply Tony 17/09/2018 at 23:07


    Thank you in advance if you can answer my question.

    I am a professor (beamte), but pay for state health insurance through TKK; I pay the maximum rate for insurance, so the annual total comes to almost 8600 euros.

    How much of this can I deduct to reduce my tax liability? I’ve read some comments that claim the full amount can be deducted, then others indicate that the maximum is 1900 euros. It probably doesn’t matter, but I am steuerklasse 3.

    Thank you again.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:17

      Hey Tony. You can put the whole amount of 8600€ in your forms, which will in turn will impact your total deductible income for the year. I don’t much more about your situation so i can’t tell you exactly what outcome it will have for your return.

  • Reply Theju 17/09/2018 at 22:40

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I am a student and working part time since 2016. I also got a Hiwi job for 40 Hrs in 2017 dec and since then I have two jobs : One a Part time-mini job and another a HiWi job. Since last few months I have been put to Tax Class 6 at my part time. I earn more at my part time than at HiWi job and hence want the class to be change to 1. Also my HiWi contract ends this month.
    Do you have any suggestion to how I can get my tax class changed at my part time job.?
    And also is there a limit of number of total hours or sum of money earned in a year for a student to get tax refund?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:15

      Hey Theju. You can apply for a tax return regardless of your income or number of working hours. I made a post about switching tax classes there.

  • Reply Carina 17/09/2018 at 21:15

    Hi Bastien,
    thank you so much for all of this helpful information! I am a freelancer and turned in my tax return. My Finanzamt responded asking for the Umsatzsteuererklärung and Anlage EÜR, but I am Umsatzsteuerbefreit. And my income was way under 17 500. Do you have any advice about this? Is there something I need to turn in to prove I am Umsatzsteuerbefreit?
    Thank you so much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:13

      Hey Carina. This is a new rule from this year i think. Everybody needs to submit that, even if they aren’t billing VAT. So that’s normal i guess.

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