How to Retrieve Travel Expenses from your Tax Bill (Entfernungspauschale)

The state offers an avenue through which you can claim your travel costs and that is through the income tax return. However, there are lots of things you must note.

Things to Know About the Travel Costs

Employees in Germany have two clear cut ways of recovering their travel costs incurred. On the one hand, they can have their employer disburse the amount into their accounts or they can include the expenses in their tax return.

Travel costs are usually incurred whenever you use any means of transport to get to work. In principle, these costs can be divided into three categories:

• Away from home to work and back • Family home trips or commuters • Travel activities on behalf of the company

As part of income-related expenses (Werbungskosten), such trips may be tax deductible.

First Trips to the Place of Work

In connection with trips to the workplace, employees can claim the commuter allowance (Entfernungspauschale). To determine the amount of the lump sum to be claimed, multiply the total distance to your workplace in kilometres by 30 cents. However, note that only one trip is considered for reimbursement.

In addition, only the shortest route is accepted by the tax office. Therefore, longer distances have to be justified to the clerk. In a typical calendar year, the commuter allowance can amount to a maximum of € 4,500. It is wise to make use of the lump sum from as little as 16 kilometres.

Family Trips with Double Housekeeping (doppelte Haushaltsführung)

Several workers work far from home and have no choice but to commute within the week. In this case, one trip home per week can be deducted from the tax. However, you must have double financial management to qualify for this deduction.

Note that if you travel home via private means, you can also benefit from the commuter tax. It does not matter if you actually incurred costs. If the employer caters for the costs for the return trips, the commuter will no longer be eligible for the commuter allowance.

Trips Involving Travelling Abroad

In principle, the employer always pays for the travel costs for the employee working abroad. These usually form part of the tax deductibles in the business expenses. However, if the costs are not covered, it is always imperative that you report all trips to the tax office.

Mileage allowance (Entfernungspauschale) applies to everyone without proof:

• 30 cents for cars per kilometre driven • 20 cents per kilometre driven on a motorcycle, scooter, and moped

Travel Costs Accounting

Employers can also deduct the travel expenses for trips individually from the tax. Then the employee is given a standardized form for the travel expenses breakdown.

The following is the information that must feature in the expense statement:

• Date of travel • Reason for the trip • Means of transport • Covered distance • Total expenditure • Proof of public transport • Name of the driver • Account details of the applicant • Date of application • Signature