Tax Tips for Germany

The German tax system operates on the federal and regional levels. The Federal Central Tax office overlooks tax payments nationwide, whereas regional offices across the country administer tax workings in different states.

Everyone living in Germany has to pay tax on their earnings regardless of citizenship status. That is, whether you are a German citizen or an ex-pat, you must file your taxes to avoid penalties and fines. Since there is no way to avoid paying taxes, there are a few ways to acquire refunds and reductions.

Childcare Cost

Whether you are a student or an employee, you can claim a tax refund on childcare costs as long as you are a German resident. Most people assume they need to be a German citizen to get a concession in their tax return for childcare, but that’s not the case. Expats can also ask the state for a deduction on their tax payments.

However, you must have all the receipts in order to ask your local tax office for tax refunds. Without the proof of your expenditure on childcare, you cannot ask for a reduction in tax no matter how much you need it.

Requesting the state for a tax deduction on account of childcare expenses is not limited to young kids. If you have school-going children, you can claim a tax reduction on school fees, but not without proof of payment.

Home Office and Workroom

The coronavirus pandemic forced millions to work from home and set up makeshift workstations to get things done. If you work in Germany and had to establish a home office, you can claim tax deductions on account of the costs incurred in setting up your workspace. This provision in the German tax system is referred to as Home Office Pauschale (‘Home Office Flatrate’).

A tax reduction on home office expenses is not limited to your work corner in the living room, where you have a table and chair to work. If you have had to make an exclusive workroom for whatever reason, you can use the expenditure on it to claim deductions on your tax return.

Corporate Memberships and Tours

Many corporations require their employees to subscribe to certain corporate groups and clubs and that requirement comes with membership fees for which you can claim a deduction on your tax return.

Similarly, if you have to travel for work-related reasons, such as attending a conference or meeting with a foreign team, you can be reimbursed by requesting a deduction on your taxes. This deduction is only applicable if you have to pay out of pocket. Oftentimes, employers will cover the cost of travel but it is not guaranteed. Sometimes a company may introduce its employees to a seminar that would help career growth but not afford the travel expenses. In such a case, an employee may have to bear the costs themselves.

Ending Note

The German state offers many concessions to people on their tax returns if they can show a record of certain expenses. Always make sure to keep receipts safe to get reductions on a tax return.

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