Tax Forms 2020
Are you looking for the tax forms for 2019, 2018, 2017 und 2016? You can find them here.
A new year has begun and once again many are asking themselves if they they’re required to file a tax return (Steuererklärung) or if they should file voluntarily. Complicated paragraphs, constant changes in tax law, expensive tax consultants, and incomprehensible forms – many are left wondering which forms they need, where to find them, and if all the effort is even worth it.
Almost 50 percent of German taxpayers do not file a tax return. They are essentially giving the tax office (Finanzamt) a cash gift, as 88 percent of them would have received a tax refund with their tax assessment (Steuerbescheid). In fact, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt), taxpayers who voluntarily file a tax return receive an average refund of 1,051 euros!
Tax Return: Paper or Electronic?
There are several ways to prepare your tax return. If you want to save money by preparing your tax return yourself instead of hiring a tax consultant, you can fill out the official forms and send per post them to the appropriate tax office for you. The respective forms are available for download below.
Since 2019, the income tax cover sheet (also known in German as “Mantelbogen”) shrunk from 4 to 2 pages and a lot of additional information must be entered on separate forms. For example, expenses for household-related services (e.g. tradespeople costs) must now be entered in the “Household-Related Expenses Form” (Anlage für Haushaltsnahe Aufwendungen) instead of the income tax cover sheet. Some other additional forms include:
- Extraordinary Expenses Form (Anlage Außergewöhnliche Belastungen, e.g. medication costs that are not covered by your health insurance)
- Special Expenses Form (Anlage Sonderausgaben, e.g. church tax or contributions to nursing care and health insurance)
- Miscellaneous Form (Anlage Sonstiges, e.g. an application for a tax reduction to high inheritance tax burdens)
Income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) such as expenses for travel, work equipment, or a home office (häusliches Arbeitszimmer) that exceed the employee lump sum of 1,000 euros per year (Arbeitnehmer-Pauschbetrag) must be entered on Form N if you wish to claim them for tax purposes.
Of course, you can also file your tax return online. The German tax authorities offer the option of submitting your tax return electronically with the software Mein ELSTER.
Please note: You will not receive any tips on saving taxes from the tax authorities whether on paper or online via Mein ELSTER!
There are many providers on the market that offer online software with tax programs that you can utilise for your tax return. In addition to convenient and easy handling, you can benefit from comprehensive tax saving tips for the highest possible tax refund. Wundertax offers excellent customer support, has been awarded “very good” for customer satisfaction by TÜV (the Technical Control Board), and provides an integrated optimisation check for up to 4 years of retroactive tax returns.
Due to the digitalisation of German tax administrations, certain data may only be transferred electronically. For example, employers must transfer wage tax declarations (Lohnsteuer-Anmeldungen), preliminary VAT returns (Umsatzsteuer-Voranmeldungen) and income tax statements (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung) electronically to the tax office. Self-employed people must also prepare their tax returns electronically.
Forms for Your Tax Return
The 2020 tax forms from the Federal Tax Administration’s Form Management System are provided below for those who do not wish to file their tax return electronically.
Simply download the necessary forms as PDF, print them out, and prepare your income tax return!
- Income Tax Cover Sheet (Einkommensteuer Mantelbogen) 1A
- Info sheet eData (Infoblatt eDaten)
- Form AUS (Anlage AUS) Foreign income and taxes
- Form AVEÜR (Anlage AVEÜR) Statement of current assets for Form AUS (income surplus statement)
- Form AV (Anlage AV) Statement of tax incentives for pension contributions
- Extraordinary Expenses Form (Anlage Außergewöhnliche Belastungen)
- Corona Aid Form (Anlage Corona-Hilfen) Corona emergency aid, interim aid, and comparable grants
- Form EÜR (Anlage EÜR) Income surplus statement
- Form FW (Anlage FW) Subsidies for home ownership
- Form G (Anlage G) Income from business enterprises
- Household-Related Expenses Form (Anlage Haushaltsnahe Aufwendungen) Household-related maintenance, services, and tradespeople services
- Form KAP (Anlage KAP) Income from capital assets / tax imputation
- Form KAP-BET (Anlage KAP-BET) Income from capital assets / tax imputation according to separate and uniform assessment (investments)
- Form KAP-INV (Anlage KAP-INV) Investment income not subject to domestic tax deduction
- Child Dependent Form (Anlage Kind) Declaration of child expenses/income
- Form N (Anlage N) Income from non-self-employed work
- Form N-AUS (Anlage N-AUS) Foreign income from non-self-employed work
- Form R (Anlage R) Pensions and other retirement benefits
- Form S (Anlage S) Income from self-employment
- Form SO (Anlage SO) Other income
- Special Expenses Form (Anlage Sonderausgaben) Declaration of special expenses (excluding insurance expenses and pension contributions)
- Miscellaneous Form (Anlage Sonstiges) Other statements and claims
- Form SZ (Anlage SZ) Declaration of non-deductible debt interest
- Form U (Anlage U) Alimony payments to a divorced spouse
- Dependent Payment Form (Anlage Unterhalt) Payments to dependent persons
- Form USt (Anlage USt) VAT Return
- Form V (Anlage V) Rental and leasing income
- Provident Expenses Form (Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand) Declaration of provident expenses
- Form WA-ESt (Anlage WA-ESt) Other statements and claims involving foreign countries
When Do I Have to File My Tax Return?
Those required to file a tax return have until the end of July of the following year to do so. As July 31, 2021 falls on a Saturday, the deadline extends to the next working day; therefore, your 2020 tax return must be received by the tax office by August 2, 2021 at the latest.
People who have received short-term work benefits (Kurzarbeitergeld) or unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld I) in the past year are required to submit a tax return. The same applies to parental benefits or maternity benefits (Eltern- or Mutterschaftsgeld), as these are wage replacement benefits that are subject to the progression proviso (Progressionsvorbehalt). Although these wage replacement benefits are tax-free, they are added to your regular income and therefore affect your tax rate.
Those with a second job in tax class 6, income from self-employment, or an assessment in the tax class 3/5 or 4 with a factor procedure are also obliged to submit a tax return.
You can find a list of all circumstances that oblige you to file a tax return here.
If you miss the deadline to submit your tax return, the tax office can impose a late filing surcharge of .25 percent of the assessed tax for each month (or part of each month) that the tax return arrives late. The minimal charge is 25 euros.
If you are unable to meet the deadline, submit an application for an extension providing your reasons for lateness. The application must be submitted prior to the deadline and approved by the tax office.
Voluntary Tax Return Submissions
The tax office expects that employees who aren’t required to file a tax return and don’t earn extra income in addition to their wages will receive a tax refund, and therefore do not request them to file. As most are expected to earn a tax refund, a voluntary tax return is absolutely worthwhile, especially if you recently got married or had special expenses (Sonderausgaben), extraordinary expenses (außergewöhnliche Belastungen), or high income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) throughout the year.
The tax office allows up to four years for taxpayers to file a voluntary tax return and the deadline is always December 31. Your voluntary 2020 tax return must be received by December 31, 2024. Please note: A deadline extension beyond December 31 is not possible.
What Do I Need to Keep in Mind for the 2020 Tax Year?
The basic tax-free allowance (Grundfreibetrag) for the 2020 tax year increased from 9,168 euros to 9,408 euros for individual persons, and to 15,540 euros for married couples who are assessed together. You only have to pay tax on income above this tax-free amount (Freibetrag).
The child allowance (Kinderfreibetrag) has also increased to 7,812 euros. More about child benefits (Kindergeld) and allowances can be found here.
The new Home Office Lump Sum (Home-Office-Pauschale) also plays a particularly important role in 2020, allowing you to claim up to 600 euros in income-related expenses per year as tax exempt. All important changes and tax effects on the 2020 tax year caused by the Corona pandemic can be found in our article Tax Return 2020 (Steuererklärung 2020).
File Your Tax Return Online with Wundertax: Receive Tax Savings!
If you want a comfortable, cost-effective, and paperless tax return submission instead of hiring an expensive tax consultant, we highly recommend the online tools from Wundertax. Wundertax’s online solutions are optimised for employees, cheaper than any tax consultant, and offer you the chance to easily file your tax return in 15-20 minutes while avoiding complicated forms and the tax office.
Many costs including numerous predefined lump sums and allowances can be deducted from your taxes, targeted interview questions will ensure that you don’t overlook anything – our tax program singles out all the relevant and necessary forms for you.
While you enter your details into our easy-to-understand templates, a live tax calculator is constantly updating so that you always know the amount of your tax refund.
After you’ve completed entering your values, you will see an overview of your tax return. Wundertax will send your tax return to the tax office as soon as you’ve confirmed that all entries are correct. Our online tax program is connected to the government’s tax software ELSTER; therefore, the data is transferred to the tax office according to the same high security standards as when using ELSTER.