How to easily file your German taxes

How to easily file your German taxes

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

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…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:

  1. Print out the forms
  2. Sign
  3. locate a post office.
  4. Send them to your local Finanzamt
  5. Done!

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.

 

 

Questions? Answers.

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.

 

 

 

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

As many people have asked, and continually do so, I have finally decided to sit down and answer a why German post. Coming from Hawaii to Munich always seems to baffle people in conversation, and when the initial shock is over questions about the expat experience come up.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in California, raised in Hawaii and then moved back to Cali for a couple years for college. I would say Im not from either 100% but a good solid west coast mix.

 

What made you decide to move away from the US?

Have you ever been to California or Hawaii? paradise. ok you got me. However, economically it is a disaster.  At some point I found myself beginning to get trapped under mounds of debt and realized that having no health insurence was not a way I wanted to live my life. I was in dire need of some stability. So I packed my bags and searched for a new home with more opportunities and benefits.

 

How did you decide on settling in Munich?

I initially did some test runs in my search for a new home. I had some time in Geneva, Paris and London, but all the while I had a nack for visiting Munich and eventually fell in love with it.

 

Do you have family or live alone?

Most of my family is gone now ( one of the major reasons I left America) However, I did start out in Munich as an aupair but now I am a full fledged adult and live alone. On occasion I will visit my German family so I cannot say I am entirely out here alone and roughing it.

 

Was it easy making friends or adjusting to the culture?

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Oh boy is this the question. I could write a thesis on this bad boy, and have probably verbally done so many times. The German culture – in contrast to American- is a very hard nut to crack. In America it is easy to walk out and talk to any old Joe on the street and build an ever lasting friendship eventually. but no, not here. Germans are very reserved and very exclusive. You meet people basically only through other people and if you cant speak German at all it can be very difficult. I mean I must admit I have heard Munich is extra difficult regarding this and if I was in another city it may be easier..but I chose the hard route. All in all I cannot fully complain though, in a way I really appreciate it a bit more in comparison to the over friendly American style. I find here when you actually can get into a social circle, the friends you make tend to be far more loyal and valuable.

How do you cope with homesickness?

In all honesty I do not have so much homesickness as Munich feels to me more like a home than any other place I have previously lived. Sometimes though, when Ive had a hard day or want to cry from studying the language I will go get a Starbucks. It may be over price, under quality coffee but it does taste the same in every country.

 

How long did it take to learn German?

This is a pretty reletive question. First things first, German is extremely hard. Most expats I have met tend to avoid learning it. They find when everyone here speaks english it doesnt make so much sense but also I takes a loooootttttt of work and investment.  I was lucky. I chose to start my Munich transition as an aupair so I had some good time in between working hours to hunker down and focus on studying. I did sacrfice a lot of my free time to catch up from a life of single language living and many a times cried because learning German grammar is a night mare. Now I am about a B2 ( just under native speaker) my comprehension is about perfect but since I work in english my speaking is not soooo ideal.

 

Do you feel at home yet?

For the most part I can answer this yes. In my first year it was really hard and I often felt very alone and reminded I did not belong. I did not know the city well and was very shocked by the culture. Going into my second year ( and once I learned German) I began to feel more at ease. Now that the second year is nearly over I can say I am very well settled. I have a perfect flat, job, my language skills are blooming, the social situation is..almost solved.. all in all I am just about as cozy and content as an expat could be. I’ve come to find that calling somewhere home is not about being happy because everything alway being perfect, its about feeling happy when nothing is going right. It is always a struggle in some way or other to make it here but at the end of the day I find it always works out well for me. Some way or another.

Talkin bout Tel Aviv

Talkin bout Tel Aviv

Welcome to the  curiously cool city by the sea

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Oh, the bluemanity

Now I say curious because to be honest I do not know why I fell so quickly head over heels for this small, extremely expensive, not-so-aesthetic bauhaus city …but ohhh baby am I now in deep.

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bike city bitch, bike bike city bitch

To be honest I have so much enthusiasm right now that  I just have to break it down for you list style. So here are my tip of the top 5’s

  1.  Tel Aviv is small, Tel aviv is Big

It’s Incredibly small. I think between my explorations and running the half marathon I have the city basically all mapped out.

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toto we arent in western Europe anymore

It has a feel like Munich, where it has everything you need  for a city but at the same time all the conviences and social comforts of a small town atmosphere.

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Never ending hazy skys over the city

but then again I say big because once you are really out you can feel its strong heart and soul.In the evenings or late afternoons, the people start coming out and the bars and cafes are crowded with lights and laughter.

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It feels so exciting but so comfortable, and it seems everyone is always bumping into someone they know

 

 

3. The beach, the glorious, fabulouuuus beach

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Beach, please

Coming from freezing winter wonderland that is Bavaria, I was probably most excited by the heat of Tel Aviv. It was only around 20-25 degrees but the sunlight hit you just right.

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Cash me at the Carousel, Howbowdah

 

All around adults and children alike were playing sports, in the water, cruisin about

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or just soaking up sun.

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We were able to relax in minimal clothing and get some new freckles all in “winter”time…except no smoothies. FYI even if the coffee shops are air conditioned, they still apparently respect a no smoothie in the winter months rule

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Running away from my problems like

4.The cozy chill culture

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Perhaps it was because I have been in Germany too long, or perhaps its just the way it is, but withhold your potential comments about bias when I say, people there are just so so nice.

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Shalloommm sleepy time

The people I was hanging out with were so open and welcoming. I mean my host did know me and gave me free range of his flat (and bed), introduced me to friends, and even let me me finish his box of captain crunch at 1am- soo nice.

5. Houmous is youmous

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ok not just houmous, but food in general.

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Benedict’s Shashuka is off the hooka

The food there is so glorious. Fresh ingredients, mixed in peculiar ways with loads of unique flavour combinations and textures.It is just so busy but so delightful. Its not all Shawarmas and Falafel but Shakshuka, Sabih, salads and so much more. You get food and youre just like, what is this? but it doesnt matter what it is because once find out its delicious no more questions are ever asked…ever

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Baked potato, hardboiled egg, hummus, tahini, pickles eggplant and assorted garnished in pita. Wierd? completely. Tasty? 100%

 

Alright, I know 5 for now seems pretty slim for someone so “excited”, but believe me its hard to narrow down what I experienced for a post.There is just so much good I dont know where to end, so I had to after so little…also I still have to write about the marathon experience-aaaayyyyyeeee

Needless to say, I am already looking

to book another trip.

So, chill. We’ll be back for more.

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UnTelaVivable view

 

 

Abroad to America

Abroad to America

Sorry for the post abscence, but my year has started off quite stressed. I had to go to America spontaneously for, unfortunately, a funeral. I had to go to my grandparents home in Alabama. It started out with a completely complicated flight but

Three countries and three layovers later

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I just get the feeling they are always trying to overcompensate for something…

I arrived in the home of the brave… on Inauguration day

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Definetly a yuge culture shock.

but luckily for me in my third layover I was greeted by a happy and familiar face

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Dallas welcome comittee

I got to visit some family during my Texas layover and got to take some off grandma’s fresh baked bread along to my final destination..

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“Please sir, its only banana, my grandma just baked it” -Aspen in airport detainment January 20, 2017

FYI dont ever take bread through TSA, they had a hay day,

but I was let go in time for my flight

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Dear DFW, Its been real, and its been good. but hasnt quite been real good

I arrived in Birmingham shortly after, and the events began.

To be honest. I am not the best with loss, and it was a very hard week. I am beyond thankful I am a runner, it was the best coping method I could have had to fall back on.

My grandma passed away and it brought up so many feelings from previous losses. My family is not so big and going back has always been hard. Luckily for me there was a great running track near my grandfathers house I was able to escape to in between runs around the neighborhood

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aka Shin splint city

I think I got in a good 28 km that week. It would have been more except for crazy southern thunderstorms. but I tried my best to get out whenever  the sky was moderately clear

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The trip as  whole was a good time for getting the closure I think I ultimately desired. My mind is still a bit distracted, but now that I am back in Munich I am my most happiest. I am so thankful I have found a place to call home and above all feel home.I can hop away to the mountains on the weekend or run around the city and work my way back up after a fall.

Whenever life gets hard, its good to be able to just go home.For me this is Munich.

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We never quite get over our losses. But I do believe we tend to absorb them and they carve us into different, often kinder creatures

 

 

Meanwhile in Munich

Meanwhile in Munich

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woke up like dis

YES winter is finally here. With it came snow, glorious, super snow. Unlike what I assume to be the majority of the population, I am extremely overwhelmed and over joyed by this weather. I love running in snow, walking in snow and day dreaming from my office window as it snows.The chill in the air and the silence of everywhere that comes with that frosty white cushioning just gives my heart little pitter patters.

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s’no day like a snow day

The city becomes more alive. It is so bright, hopeful and beautiful. The sky becomes an extra magnificient shade of blue and the rivers flow with a little more grace than average. I find Munich to just be the best place to go for chilly strolls. What can I say, I am a little winter romantic.

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I like to often imagine I am in a snow globe or a Thomas Kinkade picture. Although I do love my outdoor activities

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Running in a winter wonderland

I find that there are a lot of cozy indoor activities to revel in. In Munich we have so many lovely museums, exhibits and naturally, oodles of cafes.

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souper duper dinner date

awe, Munich, sweet Munich. Such a lovely place to be, all year round

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