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Claiming Technical Literature on Your Tax Return

Sometimes, when preparing for a new job, you’re faced with new challenges and new knowledge that you have to catch up on to dedicate yourself to future projects and make sure you’re kept up to speed.

Many employers require you to catch up by purchasing technical literature (Fachliteratur), but this is often expensive. You can ask your employer in advance whether they will support this financial burden, but if you buy the technical literature yourself, some of the costs can be often reimbursed by claiming them on your tax return.

Fachwissen kann bei der Karriere helfen - Fachliteratur dafür kann man von der Steuer absetzen.

What counts as technical literature?

Technical literature primarily includes publications that are intended to impart knowledge as part of a training or further education program. General educational literature or literature intended for entertainment does not count as technical literature.

Technical literature can include:

  • Technical books containing purely technical information
  • Reference works
  • Trade journals
  • Specialist journals
  • Etc.

Fachzeitschriften für die Arbeit sollten bei der Steuererklärung angegeben werden.

Will my technical literature expenses be recognized?

Anyone using technical literature for professional expenses can usually deduct these costs without an issue. The tax office tends to recognize the expenses if the title suggests a professional connection.

General education literature is a bit more problematic. You need to ensure you can provide justification for such claims, as well as for trade journals, as these usually cover a broad spectrum and are not always professionally relevant. Daily newspapers are not typically recognized.

Fachbücher helfen bei der Arbeit und können von der Steuer als Werbungskosten abgesetzt werden.

Providing proof of technical literature

If the tax office requests proof for your technical literature you can provide them with receipts of your purchase. If you did not hold on to your receipts or you lost them, you can enter a flat rate of 110 euros for all work materials. This is, however, simply a guideline value, not a legal claim, so it isn’t always recognized – in recent years, there haven’t been any queries from the tax office.

The flat rate (or lump sum) of 110 euros for work equipment isn’t specifically for technical literature, but also includes other work equipment (electronics, furniture, etc). If you have already used up this flat rate, you will likely have to prove your costs for technical literature.

Submit your tax return with wundertax today!