What is double household maintenance? (doppelte Haushaltsführung)
Employees with two households for professional reasons (i.e. to be closer to work) can deduct many of the additional expenses as income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) on their annual tax return.
In order to qualify for this, your “center of life” must take place at your main residency (the one further from your workplace). This essentially means that this is where your family and friends live and where your personal life plays out. If you qualify, you can deduct, for example, up to 1,000 euros for your second residence (rent & utilities) as well as expenses for trips back to your main residence and furniture expenses. Learn more below.
What are the requirements for a double household?
The tax office accepts deductions for double household maintenance if you meet the following conditions:
- The second residence (even a room in a shared house) has to be used for an professional purposes
- You can reach your workplace faster from your second residence than your main residence.
- You have another main residence separate from your workplace and second residence.
- Your center of life takes place at your main residence (family, friends, etc.)
- You contribute financially to your main residence. Since 2014, you have to prove that at least 10% of the total household costs are paid by you.
Which costs can I deduct from my second residence?
- Up to 1,000 euros per year in rent and utilities (gas, water, etc.)
- Second residence taxes (Zweitwohnsitzsteuer): Many cities deduct a second residence tax which can be claimed in full on your tax return.
- Broadcasting fee (Rundfunkbeitrag): This fee can be claimed in full for your second residence if it’s already paid for at your main residence.
- Many more additional costs can be deducted as income-related expenses (Werbungskosten).
Deducting commutes home
Both ways of your initial move in and move out of your second residence can be deducted on your tax return (maximum two trips). You can also deduct 30 cents per kilometer for a weekly trip home to your main residence with the commuter’s allowance without providing receipts.
Note: If you don’t make a weekly commute back to your main residence, you can still deduct expenses from calling your friends and family by using the lump sum for telephone and internet costs - you can claim up to 20 euros per month.
Deduct Moving Costs
Moving costs for your second residence can be deducted in full provided that you submit receipts for everything. The moving cost flat rate (Umzugskostenpauschale), however, does not apply to your second household.
Deduct room & board costs
You can use the room & board flat rate of 24 euros per day (Verpflegungsmehraufwand) to deduct costs for meals and living expenses for the first three months after moving into your second residence.
Deducting furniture & fixtures
Furnishings for your second residence can be claimed on your tax return provided it’s a reasonable amount. This includes “basic furnishings” such as your bed, desk, sofa, washer, stove, and lighting. Individual pieces of furniture that don’t exceed 410 euros (487.90 gross) can be deducted immediately, whereas the cost of more expensive furniture can be split up and deducted over a longer period of time.