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Deductible Expenses in Your Tax Return (Abschreibungen)

We will explain how deductions work.

Good that there is the tax return (Steuererklärung). All work-related expenses can be deducted from your taxes, so that you get at least a portion of the money back at the end of the calendar year after all. However, a lot has to be considered. We will explain how deductions and such work.

Actually, what is a deduction (Abschreibungen)?

Particularly relevant are deductions (Abschreibungen) for employees who need to purchase expensive work equipment. These things can be written off in the tax declaration (Steuererklärung) according to depreciation (Wertverlust) over several years.

If the purchase price is more than 800 euros net and/or 952 euros gross, then the object must be deducted (Abschreibung). This means that the amount can not be immediately recognized in full. Costs are kept according to the service life of an item. The respective share is the depreciation. If the limit of 800 euros is not exceeded, the expenditure can be deducted from the taxes in one go.


Calculate deduction amount (Abschreibungssumme)

It is not rocket science to determine the amount of the deduction manually. Only purchase price, delivery or purchase date and life of the device are required. If the data is available, service life can be determined on the basis of so-called depreciation tables (AfA-Tabellen).

Examples of the service life (Nutzungsdauer) of certain work equipment:

  • Laptop 3 years
  • Monitors 3 years
  • Fax machines 6 years
  • Printer 3 years
  • Smartphone 5 years
  • Office furniture 13 years

Note: 1/12 of the annual depreciation (Jahresabschreibung) has to be applied for every month of a calendar year already started.


Example calculation:

  • Buy a laptop for € 1,000 in June 2017
  • Three years of usage
  • € 1,000/36 months = € 28
  • first year seven months = € 196
  • second year twelve months = € 336
  • third year twelve months = € 336
  • fourth year residual value five months = € 132

By the way: Deduction (Abschreibungen) isn’t just important for work equipment (Arbeitsmittel). Even tradespeople need to be familiar with this topic. However, other deduction rules apply in part.