Claim Costs for Further Education on Your Tax Return

High school was a long time ago, your studies have been over for a few years, and you’ve finally landed in your career. Your career is going great: you know all of your colleagues well, the salary is reasonable, and you have a good relationship with your superiors – but still, something is missing.

This happens often and many don’t know why. Sometimes, your daily routine comes to a standstill and while many find this okay, others can’t stand it and look for a change.

A solution for many is to seek further education. There, one can broaden their horizons and advance their careers. The best thing is that the tax office (Finanzamt) typically recognizes these costs without question. In this article, we’ve compiled all the relevant information on this topic.

Investing in the future

The tax office recognize all costs for further education as income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) without setting a limit. These costs often come from seminars, conferences, or conventions. Other typical further education costs can arise from:

  • Further education for your current job
  • Retraining or re-education
  • Studies following an apprentinceship
  • Second degree
  • Postgraduate studies
  • Further education following initial vocational training

Although the tax office typically recognizes these costs without any issues, there are still some things to keep in mind.

Requirements

Further education costs are recognized as income-related expenses as long as they are job-related and can lead to a future promotion. If this is not the case, only a portion of the costs could be recognized and sometimes none at all.

There are occasionally problems when it isn’t immediately obvious that your further education has to do with your job. For example, courses focusing on rhetoric might not be immediately recognized – its important to prove how they are necessary for your training.

Further education courses that don’t have a direct connection to your job are only recognized if your employer makes a financial contribution towards the cost. If your employer required you to take these courses, they are recognized without question.

Special circumstances

There is no guarantee that further education costs will be recognized by the tax office – often, situations must be individually reviewed. The person reviewing your case will be the one to decide if your further education is for professional purposes. You should always be ready to justify your expenses in case the need arises, some example questions from the tax office could include: why was a language course necessary? Did you attend this convention out of professional or personal interest?

Some courses must meet certain conditions in order to be tax-deductible:

  • Language courses must be tailored to professional needs
  • Basic foreign language courses are only recognized if basic knowledge is required at your job
  • Conferences/conventions only count if they are attended out of professional (not personal) interest

Note: If your further education courses are recognized, all expenses that come with them will be observed. This can include:

  • Literature
  • Tuition fees
  • Seminar fees
  • Work materials
  • Commuting expenses
  • Etc.

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