Welcome to our website. It is our goal to guide you through your tax return as quickly and easily as possible. Our promise to you is that you do not have to bother with overly complicated “Bureaucratic-German” language.
If any questions arise, our step-by-step-guide will hopefully help you out. In this guide we discuss each point chronologically and explain them in a little more detail.
Our support will gladly answer any further questions at email@example.com.
In the first step, our tool will ask you for personal data. This is necessary to assign your tax return to your person. You simply enter your data into the provided areas. Mandatory fields include:
- Year of tax declaration
- First name
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Tax office
- Marital status
Do not worry: all information provided by you will be treated strictly confidential. The SSL protocol secures the transfer of data between a domain on a web server and the visitor of that domain. The online customer (visitor) can be sure that his data is protected against being discovered and exploited by third parties on the way from his computer to the server of the operator.
Year of tax declaration
Please enter for which year you would like to submit your tax return. This can be submitted for up to 4 years retroactively to the tax office (voluntary assessment). However, if you are obliged to do so (compulsory investment), you must submit your tax return until May 31st of the following year.
Unfortunately, you cannot choose your responsible tax office. Your responsible tax office always depends on your place of residence. With our tool, the tax office is selected based on the given postcode. No further action is required.
When filing a tax return, it is important to indicate your denomination / religious affiliation. Members of a church pay church tax in Germany.
The marital status plays a special role, as the tax office uses this information to consider any tax exemption limits. In addition, married people often submit a joint assessment.
Occupational information is primarily entered in this category. For example, did you have expenses for job applications or do you pay for occupational unions? You may also make use of multiple lump sums granted by the state to tax payers.
Your responsible tax office will recognize lump sums without evidence. By using them, a certain part of the income will be tax-free. Spending which exceeds the lump sum may also be claimed for tax purposes. However, if the yearly income is less than the lump sum, it will be automatically deducted from the taxable income.
Internet and phone costs
Anyone using their own smartphone or their own Internet connection to conduct professional matters may claim the expenses as income-related expenses. Professional phone calls, e-mails or online research: these are all valid causes to save at least a few Euros in the tax return. You can apply a flat rate of 20 % of your costs, but only a maximum of 20 Euros per month.
Fees for account processing
We recommend you keep the default lump sum of 16 Euros.
Costs for work-related tax advice, tax software or literature
The costs for our tax tool are already entered by default. This means that you do not need to enter anything else in this category as long as there were no further expenses.
Would you like to know more about typical work-related costs which you can claim for tax purposes? Then just take a look in our section “Income-related expenses”.
If you have earned income as an employee, you will need to include the details of your certificate of wage tax deduction in your tax return. We, again, have marked all mandatory areas in our tool.
Check your certificate of wage tax deduction to find out which tax code you have. Enter this in the provided area. In Germany, there are six tax classes. You will be assigned a wage tax code by the responsible tax office. The tax code allows, for example, the employer to calculate the payroll tax for employees.
As you can surely imagine, not every citizen has the same tax code. Your tax code will, first and foremost, depend on your marital status. You can find more information on this under “Tax classes”.
In addition to the details of the certificate of wage tax deduction, you can also record additional income under point 3: “Income” This includes, for example:
- Benefits such as unemployment benefits
- Parental benefits
- Income from self-employment
- Income from investment income
- Income from voluntary work
- Orphan’s pension
Trips to work
Unfortunately, we still cannot teleport ourselves to work. Therefore, the tax office grants us a commuter allowance per route. This amounts to 30 cents per driven kilometer (only journey to or from your work is considered).
With our tool, you automatically receive the lump sum. In addition, you may provide information such as the distance from your home to your workplace or the amount of money you spend on monthly tickets.
If your expenses for public transport are higher than the lump sums calculated by the tool, the tax office automatically takes the higher value into account.
How many times did you drive to work?
If you drive to work five times a week, you enter a “5” in this area. If you drive to the office only three or four times, you just enter this number of workdays instead.
Vacation and sick days
Holiday and sick days are automatically deducted from the total number of working days.
This area gives you the opportunity to deduct further costs. Just pick items from the list which are applicable to you. If you do not have any other expenses, you can skip this step for now and come back later.
You can choose from these categories
Donations / Membership fees
Services close to home
Other insurance premiums
Costs of basic pension (Rürup contracts)
In contrast to the Rürup pension, the Riester pension is based on funding principle and not pay-as-you-go. In addition, a Rürup pension is not distributed at one go but paid monthly and bears interest during the deposit time. It is also called the “basic pension.” Furthermore, the state supports the policy holder. At age 60 at the earliest, the Rürup pension is paid monthly for the rest of your life. Until then, insured persons pay premiums each month, annually, or simply as a one-off payment. The latter variant is particularly favored for tax purposes.
More information can be found under “Rürup-Rente”.
- Life insurance, accident insurance and more
Premiums to annuity and life insurance policies can be deducted as pension expenses. Premiums are tax-deductible by tax law and can be submitted to the tax office. There is a big catch though: only old contracts which were that were finalized before 2005 are considered. Even then they are only considered if, as already mentioned, the deductible maximum amounts have not yet been exhausted.
Unit-linked pension schemes cannot be deducted from tax.
Parents can recover many costs from the state via tax return. The fact that the tax authority grants parents tax benefits at all has a simple reason: the state wants to support families with children and lone parents because it is of great interest to our society that people have and educate children - and are cared for accordingly. There are numerous incentive instruments that are accessible by filing a tax return.
Please enter the data for applying for full child allowance here
In addition to child benefit, parents may claim child allowances by tax return. The purpose of the child allowance is to ensure the margin of subsistence level for each child. This safe-guarding is to be guaranteed by leaving parents with a tax-free income up to a certain amount.
The total child allowance consists of two components: the child allowance exemption for the margin of subsistence level and the childcare and education (BEA) allowance. In 2017, the total child allowance is at 7,356 Euros. The allowance is also granted if the other parent is deceased or not fully taxable. The same applies if the father cannot be found. To claim child allowances, a separate attachment must be filled in the tax return per every child.
I apply for relief amount for single parents
Since 2015, the relief amount has been set to 1,908 Euros. For the first time, parents receive an additional 240 Euros per child for the second and every following child. The prerequisite is that at least one underage child or one child of full age lives in your household for whom you receive child benefits or the tax-free child allowance.
Work related moving can be claimed for tax purposes. Even without concrete evidence, a lump sum for moving can be claimed. Even relocations in the same city can be career-related, as long as it reduces the daily commute by at least 30 minutes.
Donations and membership fees
Donations and membership fees can be paid for
- Tax-privileged purposes
- Political parties
- Independent voter associations
It is important that donation certificates must be made available to the tax office in their original form. For a donation of up to 200 Euros, a copy of the bank statement is sufficient.
If you want, you can stop the annoying house-keeping and hire household help instead. Not only costs for domestic help can be claimed for tax purposes, but also incurring bills for gardening and care services. The maximum amount is capped at 4,000 Euros.
Those who want to claim household-related services, such as craftsmen’s costs, should never pay in cash. To credit these costs, the combination of invoice and transfer slip is necessary.
Seminars and Educational Trips
For your training to be tax deductible, it must enable you to “maintain and adapt or expand your professional capacity to work”. This is the exact wording of the Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG) § 1. A training or further education must therefore enhance your professional qualifications.
In general, the following costs can be deducted from the tax:
- Examination fees
- Travel costs (round trip)
- Accommodation costs
- Subsistence costs
- Work equipment
- Home office
There is no maximum limit.
Not all health insurance companies cover the costs of effective remedies which shorten the path of suffering or make it more pleasant. Prescribed medicines, which allergic persons have to pay for themselves, can be deducted from the tax. They are among the extraordinary burdens.
Unfortunately, the health insurance companies cover no costs for illness-prevention. Alternative medicine is only recognized under certain conditions by the tax office.
Prerequisites for this are
Patient must show a medical certificate by a public health officer proving medical necessity Certificate must be issued before the start of treatment Note: The travel costs to the doctor or non-medical practitioner can be submitted as an extraordinary burden. The same applies to trips to the pharmacy.
Computer & Co.
For electronic devices, only those that are needed for the job, e.g. PC / laptop, software, printer, mobile phone and tablet are tax-deductible. You can also specify the devices that you purchased earlier. If you later see a smaller amount on your tax return, this usually refers to the the depreciated price over several months or years. You should always enclose receipts only on request.
- Voice recorder
In this category people with disabilities are considered. Please note that the application currently does not support the following disabilities:
- Degree of disability of at least 70 or
- Degree of disability between 50 and under 70 and in addition a significantly reduced ability to walk (characteristic G or aG in the disability card).
Statutory Health and Care Insurances
If you are not family-insured or insured through your employer, you can enter your premiums here. If you specify a voluntary health insurance, you must also specify the voluntary care insurance, but this may also be 0.
Private Health and Care Insurances
In the category “Private health and care insurance”, you indicate the amount of the premiums which were certified by your health insurance company.
A home office is a room that is used exclusively for the job. Law dictates that this room may not be used in a private fashion. This also means, for example, that the home office may not be a walk-through room.
A home office may also be used for educational purposes. This is especially suitable for working people who are also studying.
The legislator differentiates between a home office that is used exclusively for professional purposes and a home office that is used both for the job and for studying.
If the room is only used for work, 1,250 Euros per year may be used to cover the costs. However, if part-time education in the form of academic studies also take place here, larger financial items can be deducted from the tax. In this case, the expenditure is specified as special expenditure. The special expenses include, for example, costs for the home office, literature, computers, travel expenses and much more.
This means that expenses for the home office can be used partly as special expenses and partly as income-related expenses.
Which items are deductible?
First, the proportionate costs must be determined. In addition, the usable space of the home office must be put in relative proportion to the apartment. If the usable space of the room is 20 % of the total living space, then only one-fifth of the business expenses can be stated. These costs include:
- Cleaning costs
- Energy and water costs
- Contributions to building insurance
- Rental costs
- Interest on loans
- Repair costs
- Property tax fees
- Garbage collection
- Chimney sweeper
- Renovation costs
Expenses for equipment of the home office
Tip: Items that do not exceed a purchase price of 487.90 Euros can be deducted immediately from the tax.
Running two households
You may then deduct many of the costs incurred in this matter as income tax expenses. The big requirement here is that there is another accommodation at the first residence. The primary residence must be your center of life. In other words, your primary residence is the place where your family and friends live. If there is double housekeeping, up to 1,000 Euros per month can be claimed for the second home alone (rent and utilities). In addition, trips to the home town or expenses for furniture etc. can be discontinued as well.
- Second home (also room in a shared apartment) is being used for the purpose of a professional occupation
- Reaching your workplace from the second home takes less time than from your primary residence
- Outside of the workplace, another apartment is maintained at the primary residence
- Primary residence is the center of your life
Financial participation in the apartment at the primary residence: Since 2014, you must prove that a financial contribution is made to the apartment or house at the primary residence. The financial contribution to the running costs of the housekeeping must be more than 10 percent of the costs incurred.
If you live at the workplace during the week and drive home to family and friends at the weekend, you can claim income-related expenses. This depends on the distance, such as weekly or biweekly rides.
Additional meal allowances
The lump sum for the additional meal allowance can only be claimed for the period of the first three months after moving into the second home at the place of work in Germany.
If you have received a certificate due to a death of a relative, you may claim it here.
In the last step of your tax return, you also provide your account details, so that the tax office can transfer a refund accordingly.
In addition, you enter your tax identification number in this area. You can get this number from your income tax assessment or your employment tax statement. If you do not have them on hand quickly, you can enter your tax code instead, which has already been submitted in advance by the tax office.
It is sufficient to enter only the tax identification number or the tax code. If both numbers are given at the same time, the program will show you an error message. If you do not have a tax number yet, then you have the option to apply for such a number at your local tax office in the next window of the program.
Tax identification number
The tax ID is the tax identification number. This sequence of numbers is permanently and nationwide assigned to one specific person. The condition for receiving such a number is that this person has a permanent residence in Germany. The tax ID is composed of 11 digits. After birth every citizen is assigned a tax identification number. It might not be the nicest of welcome presents. This number will not change until your death.
The tax number is assigned to an employee of your respective tax office, where your residence is located. As part of the introduction of the ELSTER electronic income tax return procedure, the structure of tax numbers has been unified. The tax code consists of 13 digits and changes as you move to a new location. Most of the time, the tax office previously responsible for you is no longer responsible for you now. Consequently, you will be assigned a different tax code by the new tax office.
Furthermore, this step will also specify the account from which we will deduct our fee.
Before you will be able to see your finished design, we’ll give you a summary in which you’ll be alerted to possible input errors. Furthermore, all your scheduled expenses are displayed as a convenient sum.
In addition, you should pay attention to the warnings that we communicate to you in this step.
Once finished, proceed via “Continue to pay” and you can finally buy the tax return to then send it to your local tax office.
Just click on the green big button if every input you made is correct. After confirmation of the SEPA mandate, we will charge you our service fee of 34.90 Euros (including VAT). There will be no additional costs after this step.
We will send a notification by e-mail three days in advance for each new direct debit. GC re study clever GmbH will appear on your bank statement.
Once you’ve entered all the details, you should double-check the tax return by clicking on “Summary” on the bottom left and then download the draft (Step 1 of 2). Then you must submit the tax return electronically to the tax office and download it at the same time (step 2 of 2).
It is important that you then send the printout to the tax office by mail. The draft can only be viewed after the conclusion of a liable-to-pay contract. This is because the draft file represents a complete tax return, and thus can be used online without any communication with the tax office by using our tool. Once you have reviewed the draft, you can submit the electronic tax return to the tax office. This is a very simple procedure and only takes 2 steps. (Example for tax office here)
Review time at the financial office
As a rule, the processing takes six to eight weeks at the tax office. If this timeframe has already been exceeded, it is best to contact your tax office directly and inquire whether the processing lasts longer for a particular reason.