Income-related expenses for employees

All income-related expenses can be deposed from taxes.

What are income-related expenses?

Income-related expenses are all costs that are incurred in order to work. This includes things like commute to work, business trips, further education, work clothes or occupational insurance.
The law defines income-related expenses generally as the following:

Income-related expenses are necessary expenditures, used to obtain and preserve employment. (§ 9 EStG)

How high is blanket deduction for income-related expenses?

The tax office takes into consideration an Arbeitnehmer-Pauschbetrag of up to 1,000 € a year as income-related expenses. This means for up to 1,000 €, no receipts or evidence is required in order claim back for the cost for the income-related expenditures and this lump sum is automatically debited to your income.
For a lot of employees the costs that accrue in order to practice their profession are higher than 1,000 €. Those costs are also tax-deductible, which is easily done with a tax declaration. In that case the tax office can ask for corresponding proof. For a lot of these expenses there are a lot of lump sums that can be claimed as well.

Typical income-related expenses for employees



The travel from home to the work space can be deposed completely or with a lump sum. For every kilometre you get 0,30 €.



Every item bought for professional causes is tax-deductible. That includes for example: briefcases, laptops, phones or stationeries.



Insurance premiums that cover a risk at the job (for example professional liability insurance and accident insurance) are income-related expenses.



If you have to change your location in order to follow your career, you can assert the expenses from your taxes. On top, there is a lumb sum for relocations.

1. Drive to work

You can get back 0,30€ from your taxes for every kilometre between you and where you work (one way). You can use this lump sum regardless how you go to work - by train, by car or if you share a car.
The maximum sum you can declare with the commuter’s tax allowance is up to 4,500 € a year.
If your actual expenses are higher than that, it might be more effective if you don’t use the lump sum. In that case you can declare all of your actual travel expenses. To take advantage of that option, you need to hand in all of your collected receipts and tickets for gas or using the public transport.

2. Business trips

Expenses for business trips and seminars are tax-deductible as well. The lump sum for business trips helps to set off the costs against tax liability with 0.30 € (both ways).

Note: If the employer has already reimbursed the fees for the business trip or the seminar you have to declare this in the tax declaration.

3. Food allowance

A business trip involves spending a certain amount of time away from your home. For this period of time you can claim a food allowance for the first 90 days.
If you work outside your normal workspace you get a compensation for the higher costs that you have during that time. If the employer doesn’t pay any allowance, you get 12 € for an absence longer than 8 hours. If the trip is 24 hours long you get 24 €. If the business trip requires leaving the county, the lump sum can be way higher than that.

4. Work-related tools

A purchased item that is mostly used for work-related purposes can be listed as income related expenses. An item that is not more expensive than 487.90 € can be declared immediately and entirely the same year. If the item is more expensive than that, it can be written off over a number of years. Without evidence of purchase you can still deduct the 110 € allowance for work equipment.

The items can only be deducted if the employer hasn’t already compensated the costs.
In theory every object can be a work-related tool. Typical examples are:

  • Work clothes
  • Briefcase
  • PC, notebook, smartphone
  • Software
  • Workplace equipment (desk, office chair, book shelf)

5. Work-related relocations

The required costs of relocating your main address in cause of your work are tax-deductible. Travel costs can be deducted as well as movers, brokerages and the double amount of rent you have to pay. On top there is a dumb sum for any further moving expenses of 764 € (since 1/2/2017) that can be used without any evidence.

6. Running two households

If you need to have a second household because of your work, you can deduct a lot of the costs for your second flat.
This includes:

  • Rental costs and additional costs
  • Tax on second homes
  • fee for radio
  • Furniture and other fittings
  • Journeys between the first and second flat


  1. The second home is furnished for work-related reasons.
  2. It’s at least 30min faster to reach the working place from the the second home.
  3. You partly own the flat that is your principal residence.
  4. The principal residence is the primary centre of life.

7. Fees for professional organisations, unions or donations

You can offset your donation entirely against tax as well as fees for professional organisations and unions.

8. Professional insurance

Every insurance that covers a professional risk can be declared as professional expenses. For example professional liability, accident insurance (for accidents that happen in a professional frame) or legal costs insurance (employment law) fall into this category.
Insurances that cover a privat risk (health insurance, private nursing insurance, life insurance, personal liability insurance, legal costs insurance etc) are not included here, but they can be declared as additional expenses (Sonderausgaben).

9. Telephone and internet costs

If a private telephone or a private internet access is also used for professional causes, a part of the expenses can be offset against tax. Without any evidence 20 % are accepted, but not more than 20 € a month.

Calculate your tax refund now!