Welcome to the world of the international adult. It is not just struggling to hold a full time job, speak a second laguage and naivgating oneself through a new culture, but also the joy of filing taxes in this world.
but no fear! the German tax system is rather easy to get through and with an average of 1.000 euro returns
…it is definitly worth the hassle.
So sit back, relax, and let your friendly neighborhood expat guide you on the easy peasy tax return route
How to do your German Tax Return ( Steuererklärung)
First things first, make sure you have your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung ( tax summary, like a W2) handy and have downloaded the latest copy of Elster
Ok, FYI there are ways to do your taxes by hand, however in this day and age I prefer the online option. Elster (ELektronische STeuerERklärung) is basically the dream tool.
Regarding this I have gathered for you a great guide:
- Print out the forms
- locate a post office.
- Send them to your local Finanzamt
Via the Elster method, it usually takes 1-2 months for processing to happen. However, you will have given them your bank data so one day your refund will automatically pop up in your account and voila! time to treat yo self
But but Aspen, my German isnt tax preparation reaadyyyyy
no fear kleines mäuschen, if you are not quite up to the challenege I would recomend you check out Steuergo . This online tax assistance platform is directed towards expats and all in english ( yeehoo!)
but if you are a freelancer or have a bit more complicated tax situation I would recomend you see a Steuerberater. A Steuerberater is a tax preparer. Here in Germany it usually cost a couple hundred euros to enroll in their services, but they are very good at optimizing your return amount and naturally if you have a business, home, large family, multiple sources of income it can be in your best interest to have a profesional guide you along the German tax system.
You can easily search for a steuerberater by googling one in your zip code. There are always so many options, so it is not a tricky task.
When is the tax deadline in Germany?
The deadline is May 31. However, if you missed it or were not able to find the time, extensions can easily be made. Also, in the German system, as an employee, you are able to file your taxes from the previous four years. So if you miss out you can always do it next year without a penalty.
When will I get my money back?
I have been told typical procesing time is around 8-12 weeks ( or in some cases even 3 months) but if you have filed your taxes online this usually helps to speed up the process.