There are two main ways to file your tax declaration. First, you can do it yourself on paper or electronically through the software called ELSTER (Elektronische Steuererklarung.
Second, you can hire a professional to help you submit your tax return. This will ensure that you pay the correct amount of tax and avoid any penalties.
Regardless of how you do it, the deadline for filing your tax return in Germany is July 31st each year, with an extension in certain cases. Using a professional means you can avoid the hassle of doing it yourself and also have the opportunity to receive tax advice.
Before you can start preparing your tax declaration, you need to have all the required documents. This includes your tax number and tax identification number, if you have one.
Your tax number is issued by your local Finanzamt and will be valid for your entire life, so make sure you keep it safe. You will need this to submit your tax declarations and tax forms.
The tax office will send you a “Steuerbescheid” or tax statement once your taxes have been calculated. Then you can get a refund if you’ve paid too much or too little.
You can deduct certain expenses from your salary and income to cover the cost of your living in Germany. This can include things like moving costs, continuing education or training, work clothes and other expenses.
There are some specific types of expenses that you should always document in your tax declaration. These include’sponsorship’ for education or medical costs,’special’ expenses (eg: if you’ve experienced traumatic events in your life), ‘home related’ services and more.
Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it used to be and you can now submit your tax declaration online through the official tool ELSTER (Elektronische STeuerERklarung). You need to register in advance but don’t leave this until the last minute, as they may take a few days to send you your password by post.