Submitting Your Tax Return

Not everyone is required to submit a tax return - for most employees, the tax deducted from their monthly wages is sufficient. For both those required to submit and those who submit voluntarily, there are some important tax topics to keep in mind:

Tax ID and tax number

Tax IDs are identification numbers that help the tax office (Finanzamt) to identify and organize taxpayer information. These numbers are permanent and every resident of Germany is assigned with one.

Tax numbers, on the other hand, are assigned to you according to your local tax office and change upon moving. It’s possible to have multiple different tax numbers for different types of income.

Voluntary vs. Mandatory Tax Returns

Voluntary Tax Return

Most employees aren’t required to submit a tax return if they have no income in addition to their (non-freelance) employee wages. However, for most taxpayers, it’s still worthwhile to submit a voluntary tax return as an average tax refund of 1,051 often awaits them.

Mandatory Tax Return

There are some simple rules that determine who is required to file a tax return:

  • If you have secondary income that exceeds 410 euros
  • If you have rental or leasing income that exceeds 410 euros
  • If you have income from freelance work
  • If you have income from capital gains subject to withholding tax on which no dividend tax was paid
  • If you received wage replacement benefits exceeding 410 euros (such as short-term work benefits, unemployment benefits, insolvency benefits, maternity benefits, parental allowance, etc.) that are subject to the so-called Progressionsvorbehalt
  • If you had two overlapping work contracts which lead to two separate incomes being received simultaneously
  • If the tax office (Finanzamt) entered a wage tax allowance (Lohnsteuerfreibetrag)
  • If you received a severance package (Abfindung) and applied the one-fifth method
  • If you and your spouse have a tax class combination of III/V or IV/IV with factor method
  • If you are separated and didn’t split the education allowance, disability allowance, or survivors' allowance 50:50

There are also special situations that lead to a mandatory tax return that are not so easy to define. If this is the case, you will receive a letter from the tax office informing you that you are obliged to file.

Deadlines

The deadline to submit your tax return (when you are required to file) is July 31st of the following year. If you are filing voluntarily, you can file retroactively up to four years later.

Obligation to Provide Proof

Since 2018, taxpayers no longer have to automatically provide proof when filing their tax return; however, there is a requirement to hang on to all receipts and invoices in case the tax office requests proof for specific entries.

What is an income tax return?

What is an income tax return?

Lateness penalty fees for overdue tax returns

Lateness penalty fees for overdue tax returns

Tax return 2020: All tips & tricks for you!

Tax return 2020: All tips & tricks for you!

Tax Return 2021: Tips & Tricks!

Tax Return 2021: Tips & Tricks!

Filing a Joint Tax Return with Your Spouse

Filing a Joint Tax Return with Your Spouse

Individual Tax Returns for Married Couples

Individual Tax Returns for Married Couples

How the Corona Virus Affects Your Tax Return

How the Corona Virus Affects Your Tax Return

Mandatory Tax Assessment: Who has to file a tax return?

Mandatory Tax Assessment: Who has to file a tax return?

Tax ID and Tax Number: Everything You Need to Know!

Tax ID and Tax Number: Everything You Need to Know!

Tax Forms for Your 2020 Tax Return

Tax Forms for Your 2020 Tax Return

Who must file a tax return? (Pflichtveranlagung Steuererklärung)

Who must file a tax return? (Pflichtveranlagung Steuererklärung)

This is how you apply for a tax number (Steuernummer)

This is how you apply for a tax number (Steuernummer)

Once a tax declaration, always a tax declaration?

Once a tax declaration, always a tax declaration?

Tax Return: Which Tax Office is in Charge of You?

Tax Return: Which Tax Office is in Charge of You?

Submitting your taxes as a small company - this is how it works (Kleinunternehmer)

Submitting your taxes as a small company - this is how it works (Kleinunternehmer)

Facts and figures for filing your taxes for the year 2019

Facts and figures for filing your taxes for the year 2019

Do your own 2019 tax declaration - fast, online and personal

Do your own 2019 tax declaration - fast, online and personal

Not everything can be deducted from the tax

Not everything can be deducted from the tax

How to submit backdated tax returns (Steuererklärung rückwirkend abgeben)

How to submit backdated tax returns (Steuererklärung rückwirkend abgeben)

Tax Advisor vs. Online Tax Return

Tax Advisor vs. Online Tax Return

Providing proof for your tax declaration: Which documents do I need to keep? (Nachweispflicht)

Providing proof for your tax declaration: Which documents do I need to keep? (Nachweispflicht)

Tax return: You shouldn't miss these deadlines (Abgabefrist)

Tax return: You shouldn't miss these deadlines (Abgabefrist)

Submitting voluntary tax return - is it worth it? (Freiwillige Steuererklärung)

Submitting voluntary tax return - is it worth it? (Freiwillige Steuererklärung)

These are all the tax return forms (Steuerformulare)

These are all the tax return forms (Steuerformulare)

What is actually a tax declaration?

What is actually a tax declaration?

Deadline extension (Fristverlängerung): When time is breathing down the back of your neck

Deadline extension (Fristverlängerung): When time is breathing down the back of your neck