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ASK A FINANCIAL PLANNER: What should I do with my tax refund?

Where should i send my tax returnFlickr / Thomas Galvez

Certified financial planner Sophia Bera answers:

My husband and I got married in June and are very much looking forward to our combined refund check this tax season.

But we have very different ideas about how to spend it. My husband thinks we should put most of it away to save for the down payment on an apartment.

Where we live, a one-bedroom costs no less than $200,000, and while we have less than $2,000 in savings accrued so far, both of us put about $200 into our down payment savings account a month.

I think, however, that this strategy will yield enough for us to buy an apartment in the next two or so years, and that we should spend our refund check this year on life experiences, like trips to Ecuador and the West Coast. We're still young and childless, but that may not last forever, and I worry about missing out on these memories together.

Congrats on the upcoming tax refund. You're probably not going to like my answer, but I'm really concerned that you and your new hubby don't have adequate emergency savings. What would happen if a large medical expense came up, or a car repair wiped out yourВ savings?

I generally recommend that couples have at least three months of net pay saved for emergencies. Start by setting aside one month of your net pay before you start saving for other goals. I would use 90% of your tax refund to boost your emergency savings and use 10% to do something fun, like a dinner out or earmark it for a future vacation. I would continue to put $200 a month into emergency savings.

Once you have a month of your combined net pay saved, then break up your savings like so: $100 a month for emergencies, $50 a month for travel, and $50 a month for a down payment on a home. Keep growing your emergency savings until you have threeВ months of net pay saved.

Here's the reality: It's going to take you a while to reach your financial goals if you're only able to save $200 a month. You have two options: decrease expenses or increase income. I would suggest that you do both.

If you're wondering where your money goes every month, I would highly recommend that you start using YNAB:В youneedabudget.com. Stop using your credit cards to pay monthly expenses and instead switch to a debit card so you can track where your money is going every month. YNAB allows you to allocate a home for every dollar you have which will help you streamline your spending and cut your expenses. See if you can find an extra $300 a month.

I would bet that between you and your husband, you could figure out how to earn an additional $500-$1,000 a month. Can you pick up a side hustle? Can you negotiate a raise? Are you able to pick up extra hours at work? Think about how much faster you can reach your financial goals if you're saving $1,000-$1,500 a month instead of $200!

If you drastically increase your savings rate, then you're able to set aside emergency savings, continue to take a vacation each year, while starting to save for a down payment on a home. You can have your cake and eat it too, but it's going to take a little streamlining and lot of hustle to get there quickly! My question for you is: Are you up for the challenge?

Sophia Bera, CFPВ® is the Founder of Gen Y Planning and has been quoted in The New York Times, Forbes, Business Insider, AOL, The Wall Street Journal, and Money Magazine. SheВ tweets, travels, and loves helping millennials manage their money more effectively. Curious? Sign up for the free Gen Y Planning Newsletter.


Tax return in Germany for foreigners made easy – Steuererklärung

It’s that time of the year again: the time to do your tax return in Germany otherwise known as “Steuererklärung”. Yes sir/m’am, you’ll be able to get money back, and sometimes up to a few thousand euros. We show you how in this step by step guide.

Before your panic when thinking “I haven’t done my tax return this year!”, let me assure you that you won’t have any problems with your Finanzamt if you forgot to file your tax statement. As an employee, you are taxed every month off your wage. If your salary is your only income, then it will be a piece of cake to get your tax refund. You have already paid your taxes, now your job is to obtain as much refund as you can! For freelancers, it’s of course another story as it is compulsory.

The average tax return in Germany is close to 1000€ nation-wide. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?

Where should i send my tax return

If you are confident enough to do it on your own, do as follow. Otherwise, jump to the next title.

First you have to make sure you get all the right papers. It is recommended to download the forms directly from the official website this way : here.

(Click on the right hand side on “Einkommensteuer mit allen Anlagen”)

If you are an employee , you need the following forms (e.g for 2016) :

  • ESt 1 V 2016 (The main form that details general info like your adress, iD nummer,etc)
  • Anlage N 2016 (The form to detail your income as an employee)
  • Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand 2016 (The form to detail your insurances)

If you are self-employed, you need the following forms (e.g for 2016) :

  • Est 1A 2016
  • Anlage S 2016 (Freelancers only)
  • Anlage G 2016 (Gewerbetreibende only)
  • Anlage USt 2016 (if you pay V.A.T)
  • Anlage GeSt 1A 2016 (Gewerbetreibende only)
  • Anlage EÜR (If turnover is more than 17 500€ a year)

On this website, it is also possible to download an official tool called ELSTER (ELektronische STeuerERklärung) onto your computer. This tool enables you to proceed to your tax return in Germany via the internet, saving both you and your Finanzamt a lot of time. You need to sign-up for an account and you receive your password by post.

Honestly from there, i will gladly direct you to one of the best guides made in English around by our good friends of ToyTown Germany. It is very neat, clear and complete to do your tax return in Germany in English properly. I don’t see how i could give better information on how to fill in all those forms.

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

Wait for 1 or 2 months before you get any answer, and hopefully, a little ka-ching will appear on your bank account so you can afford this awesome guitar you spotted, or else, paying for your holidays to Croatia.

I don’t feel confident filling in my tax declaration in Germany alone, how can i get help?

If you are not so good with numbers or a bit scared of doing mistakes because of the German language, there are other ways to do your tax return in Germany.

Good value for the money: self-help online platforms

If this is too much to do, there are also online tools that make it super easy to get your tax declaration in Germany right for a maximum return. You might consider SteuerGo for example that i can really recommend for employees, especially if it’s your first time.

  • Your hand is really guided step-by-step with the tool in a clean interface.
  • Save progress at any time when you register for a free account.
  • It’s also fully in English (!) at every step of the process.
  • You can even call a hotline if you have questions.
  • It only costs 25€ which is perfect when you don’t earn enough to afford a Steuerberater.

They also let you know in real-time how much you are getting back so you know if it’s worth the one-time-fee. No need to pay anything before submitting to the Finanzamt (they also do that for you). You can give it a spin for free.

If you are a freelancer, you can turn to platforms like SmartSteuer which also supports profiles like Kleinunternehmer, Selbständige & Freiberufler (No English though). This means they will also help you with the additional forms (Einnahmenüberschussrechnung (EÜR), Umsatz- und Gewerbesteuererklärung).

Worth it if you have a more complex situation: a Steuerberater

You can also turn to professional tax advisers in Germany for this. A Steuerberater is a trained agent capable of preparing, processing and submitting your tax declaration in Germany. They are accountants usually experienced into finding particular rules that is relevant to your tax profile to optimize your return. Even if their fees are controlled by certain laws, you usually have to pay a few hundred euros for their services. This is why it’s only relevant if your situation is a bit more complex like earning relatively well, being married, having kids, owning a house and having different sources of income. It’s also quite normal for freelancers and self-employed persons to have one.

If you don’t know where to start your search for a Steuerberater, you can turn to platforms like Ageras. They search and find one for you based on your profile and needs. The service is free and the offers you receive non-binding.

Where should i send my tax return

Well said cat-friend, (deadline is 31st of May though) Source: Giphy.com

In theory, the deadline is to the 31st May of the following year for people that obliged by law to submit one, however, you can ask for an extension if you are short on time. Using a Steuerberater allows you to have even more time.

Important note: employees whose sole income are their salaries are not required by law to submit a tax return. This means that the deadline moves to 4 years in the future. For example, you can do your tax return for the year 2017 until the last day of 2021. Even more importantly:

As an employee, you can claim a tax return for up to 4 years prior the current year. Pretty handy if you forgot to do it those years to maximize return.

When will i get my money after submitting all the forms?

It takes between 8-12 weeks for the Finanzamt to process your files and obtain your tax refund in Germany on your account. It’s usually quicker when sending everything out electronically.

I started to work without a Steuer ID from the Finanzamt… (maximum tax rate)

and you have been charged the maximum income tax rate. You cannot claim this amount back i’m sorry.

Ps 1 : Don’t forget to sign all those forms, otherwise they won’t be processed by your dear Finanzamt !

Ps 2 : If you feel like you are running out of time, you can let know your Finanzamt before the 31st of May you need more time. They usually give you an extra 2 or 3 months to do your tax return in Germany.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello! I am student in Germany and received a paper from my health insurance in January, that I can refund some amount of taxes. Now it is August, and I forgot about the paper till now, is it still possible to get tax refund for the last year?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Altynay. Yes, it is possible.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi All! I worked in Germany from 01.01.2017 to 15.07.2017 when I resigned. I moved to another country within the EU and as far as I know, I will have to file my tax return in Germany this year (2017). I am currently self-employed and will be paid for the consultancy in January 2018. I need a new PC and was wondering if it will be tax deductible in Germany given (1) The invoice for the PC will not be in German (2) I am not living in Germany anymore – already did the abmeldung – and (3) I am not earning any money when buying the computer nor anytime after (until next year).

In advance, many thanks for your help!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Silvia, the fact that the invoice is not in German is not important but in my opinion, since you already unregistered yourself in Germany (both residence and as self-employed), i don’ think any costs after the un-registration will be valid to put off in taxes.

Where should i send my tax return

I worked in Germany from February – October 2013 and leaving Germany on November 2013. I thought i have to wait for at least 2years before applying for my tax refund. So, is it possible for me to apply for the tax refund now (2017)?? Thanks all..

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Maiton. Yes, as mentioned in the email. You can do it now.

Where should i send my tax return

I recently moved to germany and got employed. I live here with my husband. I am the only one working and we are both registered at the Finantzamt. Not just that it is clear in their system that I am married and logic it will be that I belong to tax class 3 right? Now… why after reviving my first salary I came to realize I’ve been deducted 40% for taxes. Where could be the mistake and how I get a tax refund? Thank you.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello Roberta, it’s hard to for me to give any specific answer without knowing more details. You may come from a country where the difference between net and gross salary is not so high. Since the income tax is deducted on the pay check already, that difference in Germany can seem even greater. Also make sure that you marriage is recognized by the Finanzamt; if you haven’t taken any steps for that, you tax deduction due a non-earning partner will not work.

Where should i send my tax return

So I just filled my Tax form, and I have a problem. In the main form, there is the place where you can fill in your rent (top of second page) I am paying rent of about 300 euro monthly and this is important 3600 euro taken from my funds and makes a huge difference in the final calculation. However, there is the field called “Abziehbar” where I can write a percent between 1 and 59. I have no idea what that is and how do I find out how much of my rent is abziehbar and the difference in that percentage makes a huge difference in my taxes. Can you please explain that to me and how do I find this life-saving number?

Also, when I fill the form, some fileds say that I need to submit “Nachweise und Belege” to the Finanzamt, and I don’t have any of those except maybe bank statements, but I guess they will have to live without them.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Vihren. It is a good question but i can’t reply without knowing more about you(Freelancer? Employed? Nebenbeschäftigung?). It is simply too vague. I suggest you talk to a Steuerberater or use the recommended platforms and their hotlines to clear any doubts.

Where should i send my tax return

I received a Erinnerung from the Finanzamt but I haven´t earned absolutely nothing as a freelancer last year. Do i have to fill all the forms when you had no income? Or is there any other suitable way to tell the FA that I had no earnings? Like sending a letter for example?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Martin, as mentioned in the post, it is compulsory for freelancers to do a tax return, regardless of the recorded activity that year. You need to fill in the forms yes, it should fairly fast since there is nothing to enter.

Where should i send my tax return

i came to Germany as a student one 18 months ago, and i was working in a part-time job while i was studying and i paid my taxes normally. now i’m starting an internship in Munich, and i want to know if the internships are also taxed ?

Thank you in advance

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Nassim, i believe that they are yes but if you are still enrolled as a student, your employer and you don’t pay Krankenkasse i believe.

Where should i send my tax return

Good afternoon. I’ve run a department in Berlin, which is rented with a 24-month contract. My residence is currently in Italy. I have a Stearnummer ( 231/461/01917 ) since I have worked and lived in Germany from 2003 to 2007. What do I need to present for the next year’s tax return? Is my Stearnummer still valid to present my statement?

Where should i send my tax return

Hello Antonio. As mentioned in the article, you can only claim taxes back maximum 4 years after the end of that year. Last applicable year for you was 2011 for the year 2007.

Where should i send my tax return

I have a quick question about what my employment is for the tax return – last year I was employed at the university on a Lehrauftrag (lump sum at the end of semester rather than regular wissenschaftmitarbeiter) as well as having a short term Honorar (again anoher lump sum for a research project with a foundation). What is my tax status for this?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Madelaine, you should probably ask the HR people at the University for more help. You should check if the Honorar is not tax free, as it is sometimes with grants for research.

Where should i send my tax return

I worked in two jobs (one after the other, not at the same time) last year in Berlin. I am trying to get my tax refund through an agency but they say I need my lohnsteuer. I also cannot find my steuernummer anywhere? If I contacted my old employers, would they send my lohnsteuers to me? I’m no longer living in Berlin. Thanks!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Corey. This is part of the papers you have been sent by the Finanzamt or your employer, if you have lost them, i’m sure your employer can send them to you again. Also per email.

Where should i send my tax return

i am an intern in Berlin, and i got 1800 brutto everymonth , they take from me 500 taxes. i finish my contract next month which was for 5 months. and i will go back home.

what should i do to get back the taxes i pay.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Lana. You will need to do your tax return in 2018 for the year 2017, like described in the article.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello! I live in Spain and I will start working in a yacht with German flag, so my contract will be german. I don’t have German tax ID and they told me that I have to get one . My question is if it is possible to get it online or authorize someone else in Germany to do it for me so I don’t have to fly there.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Alex. A pretty unique question. I’m afraid you will have to ask them directly as i’m not knowledgeable on remote work like this.

Where should i send my tax return

I have a very specific issue that maybe you can help me with.

I have a working contract in Munich, however, I am on an assignment in the US from June to October. Because of this I moved out of my apartment in Munich and now, my address is set to my previous address in Portugal (where I am from).

What happened is that I got moved from Tax class I to Tax class IV. I was told that I could get the difference back in the tax declaration. Do you know if this is true, and, if so, how to do it?

Thank you in advance for your time.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Nuno. Sorry, this is too specific, you will have to ask a Steuerberater.

Where should i send my tax return

I live and work full time in Qatar. I have a permanent address in Germany but i am only in Germany 2 weeks a year.

I have a house in Germany which i am renting out and that is my only income within Germany.

My acccountant filed my tax forms to tax office in Germany without stating i do not live or work in Germany.

As I understand, as per German law, if you do not live in Germany 6 months or more continuously you are only liable to paying taxes on your income within Germany.

Tax office taxed my earnings from abroad which I am sure is not right.

Is it enough to resubmit the tax return form and say that i live and work in Germany – i have 4 weeks to appeal and I worry i will have to pay a big chunk from my tax free earnings into German tax office because my accountant did not clearly state that i am an expat living abroad.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Joanna. This is obviously a mistake. You can simply send an “Anspruch” letter to you Finanzamt with your tax-id references, explaining the situation and providing enough evidence to back your story. Your accountant could probably help you do that.

Where should i send my tax return

Thank you Bastien, that is really great news for me.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello Team Please Do the Needful.

I am Bit Confused about my Tax Return for the Year 2016,

My Wife arrived in Germany July 2015 And We Made Anmeldung, After that in the month Of May 2016 She Went Back to India for Pregnancy.

And She Came back in March 2017.

So We need to make new Visa in India because she was there for more then 6 months & due to my Child Medical situations Doctor suggested not to travel.

My Tax consultant had told that You will get around 2300 Euro Amount based on the Bills which I submitted.

After few months I received only 137 Euro because they have not considered the Double Housing and other things Which I made.

Please Suggest me What should I do to.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Suresh. Please talk to your tax consultant. You will never get better advice from a few lines of comments on this page. You can always decide to protest the result from the Finanzamt (Einspruch).

Where should i send my tax return

I am a full time employee since 2015, for the first time i filed for tax return of year 2016 and Finanzamt is asking me to send copies of my work contract. Is this a normal, because even my steuerberatar is surprised?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Usama. This is indeed surprising. I’m not knowledgeable there, i would trust your Steuerberater on this.

Where should i send my tax return

Thank you very much for the information. Very helpful!

I did some freelance works in 2016 and paid taxes of them with Steurberater(in Koln). With this earnings, i bought a car,laptop,phone bills etc deducted the taxes due to work use. During this period i have not earned anything else from freelancing (since 2016(2 jobs)). Now i am not freelancing anymore, moved to Frankfurt, but i keep paying steuerbareter for tax records (mostly spendings last 8-9). But still i have to pay time to time some payments to Finanzamt. Which i am tired of, because i am not freelancing anymore and I want to end it.

My question is, can I declare to finanzamt that I stopped working as freelancer (i have a permanent job (main job(designer))? And what would be the consequences of this declaration? will I have to pay back all the tax deductions/refunds (car, laptop, bills) ?

Thank you very very much

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Samir. What you describe is possible and since your freelancer status runs until you make that decision, all deductions stay valid as expenses happened when you were still a freelancer.

Where should i send my tax return

I’m an international student in Germany and i served as an intern from the end of November 2016 to April 2017 before i resumed with Summer semester and my gross income from January to April 2017 was about 7,660. My questions are: 1. I’m i eligible to do tax returns of 2016 and 2017 together? and be able to claim back my taxes since i have all payslips and receipts of study materials i bought and the tuition i paid during this period 2. which of the following taxes below i’m i eligible to claim back since all 6 taxes were deducted throughout the period i worked. 1)Lohnsteuer

Lastly, can i still work during the next holiday if i’m offered a job within my holiday period and hope it won’t my eligibility for a tax refund. You advice would be highly appreciated.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Israel. You can do a tax return in 2018 for your time in Germany in 2016 and 2017. That’s not an issue. Concerning your other question, please refer to my response to Chimnay.

Where should i send my tax return

I am on employment contract in Germany from May 2017 to May 2018. I received necessary ID Number’s. I have been placed in Steuerklasse 1. After my employment get’s over what sort of taxes i can claim back.

Following are the Name’s Of Taxes-

Also, i read on the internet that my employer can also claim the tax benefit on my behalf?? Is this true?

Thanks in advance!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Chimnay. The point of your tax return is to lower to income tax if you are an employee. This means that you’ll need to prove you have had expenditures that qualify as tax cuts. What you are listing cannot be claimed back. However, contribution to your pension (Rentenvers) might be transferable to your own country, if there are agreements between Germany and your own country.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello! I received the form back from the Finanzamt stating they will deposit money, but I have received nothing in my account. They mailed it back to me in the USA so I am assuming it was about a week or two since they made the decision. Is it a few weeks after that it is deposited?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Bobby. It takes an extra few weeks after you receive the letter to receive your refund.

Where should i send my tax return

I am working just in Hospital for 5 years, and I am single. Is there any nessesary to fill up the tax decalartaion?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Ramin. If you have never done it in the past, it will be worth it. It is necessary if you are an employee? No.

Where should i send my tax return

Sorry, am a foreign student, after finishing my studies I was given 18 months to look for job but during this period I was engaged in a job that fetched me a lot of money. So my question is I will be leaving the country soon, can I file for tax return?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Kareem. Sorry, i don’t understand the question. What do you mean by “fetched me a lot of money” ?

Where should i send my tax return

I am a selfemployed-freelancer working in Germany since Apr 2016. My contract ends in Aug 2017. I will file my taxes for 2016 in August through my tax consultant.

If I deregister & leave Germany in Aug 2017, do I have to pay my 2017 taxes & leave ? Or can the tax payment & filing can be done in 2018 ?

Note : Since I havent done my 2016 yet, I had not been paying any quarterly tax payment for 2017.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Arun. I’m not sure which tax you are talking about but you will regardless of that need to do a final declaration for 2017 in 2018, when you moved out of the country.

Where should i send my tax return

I have a question about “when” I am able to claim my tax return. My situation:

I moved to Germany in February 2017 and started working, nevertheless I quit my job in April 2017. Throughout this time I got overtaxed and I am now willing to apply for tax return, can I apply now or do I have to wait until the end of the financial year, in April 2018?

I am leaving Germany in July, so I am wondering if I will be able to claim my tax back from abroad once I leave (I am not planning to come back to live here).

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Erli. You have to wait until the end of 2017 to claim anything for that year. It should be possible to use a foreign bank account to receive a refund, but you might have to support the transfer fees for that.

Where should i send my tax return

Does anyone know where I can find an English translation of the tax forms, including Attachment V (rents)?

Where should i send my tax return

I moved to Germany from the US in March 2016 with my German financé and we were married here in December. We changed our tax class this year from 4/4 to 5/3 but my in-laws said that in Germany we should receive 300EUR back in taxes for the months in 2016 as if we were married for the whole year. Is this correct? We received our tax return already but if that was the case the amount would be inaccurate as there were other components in our tax return related to relocation costs uncovered by the company I work for. Thanks in advance for your insight! I’m also happy to explain a bit further if the above doesn’t quite make sense.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Dani. I’m sorry my knowledge is too limited thereto answer with accuracy. I find it hard to believe you can make use of more than just December but you’d need to ask a Steuerberater to be sure.

Where should i send my tax return

I have some questions: last year I received the unemployment benefit from the Arbeitsamt from March to July and I have the documents from my previous two employers for tax purposes (2016). Do I have to include this help from Arbeitsamt? Is it tax-free? If I use this software do you send it to the Finanzamt or i have to print and send by post? Do I receive a confirmation from Finanzamt that they have electronically received my declaration? How do I know that my tax declaration is being processed?

Thanks in advance.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Julio. Even if this income is income tax free, you should still put it into your declaration. I don’t know which software you are talking about so i can’t help you but in general you get a confirmation from them yes.

Where should i send my tax return

I have just gotten a feedback from Finanzamt that i will be get paid but the bank information is missing. Even i have sent them all together, I need to send that information again. But there is not any defined way or address written on the confirmation sheet. Should I post it directly to Finanzamt or should I visit there?

Where should i send my tax return

Simply send your banking information in a normal letter and insert your Id-Nr and/or Steuer ID with it. If you look closely at the letter, you might also find further reference numbers for your case, or at least, the name of the worker processing it.

Where should i send my tax return

Will I receive a new confirmation letter again that i can understand it is processed? Does take 8 weeks again to process it? Thanks

Where should i send my tax return

No, it should be faster now. You should receive a new letter yes.

Where should i send my tax return

Same thing for me here… sent a letter of bank details, 2 weeks already and still nothing :/

P.s. I started with print & sign letter from ElsterFormular – waited for one month(from April till mid of May) – no response. Meanwhile I got my certificate and I was able to submit the form thru software – got response in less than 2 weeks. I am starting to wonder, if letter process is even working

Where should i send my tax return

Hello,i have worked in 2015 year three months in Burger King like a student.I’m not from Germany.But now im going again there for work.It is possible to get back my money from tax 2015?And which documents I need to have with me ?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Elid. Yes it possible up to 4 years after as mentioned in the post. As for documents and all, everything is already indicated in the guide too.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello, I am International Student studying here in Germany. I am here from 2013 October. I want to know if I can get any tax money back. Example: I have been paying for health insurance from past 3.5 years but I barely go to hospital, mobile bill, I purchased lot of items here. Can you please give me an insight of what all the money I can claim as an International student. I heard this from my friend that we can claim all the above mentioned money, but even he isn’t sure about it. Can you please throw some light on this. Thank you

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Bichala. Yes, even as students you claim a lot of costs back, even though health insurance is not part of that. Anything you bought to support your learning like course material, computers, or any Uni related costs for example are good examples.

Where should i send my tax return

Thanks a lot for this very clear guide. I am just still a bit confused about the deadline of submission. I have worked from 2012-2016 in Germany. I have filed my tax returns for all years except 2016. Now, i moved out of germany in November 2016. Can i still file my tax returns? Is the deadline in May or at the end of the next year? Is it a problem if i dont file tax returns or if i send them out now?

I was employed on a regular contract in germany, and for November and december 2016 i was employed and living outside of Germany.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Jan. For people with employee status, the deadline is NOT a yearly submission like for freelancers. You have up to 4 years to submit your tax return. So in your case, you’d have until 2020 to submit 2016. You can still do it now though. If you moved out in November, you can still submit a declaration for January to October.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi there, I worked in Germany for two years as a watriess. I understood everything you written here in this blog post but I still have doubts. I had no fixed working hours, even though I worked with no interruption for these two years. Some months I worked for more than 100 hours and some others for less than 40 (per month).

How is this information affecting my tax return?

Thank you in advance!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Paola. The number of hours is in itself not relevant for the Finanzamt, it’s all about income and what is written on your pay slips.

Where should i send my tax return

I moved to Berlin in July and received ‘Honorare’ for the first three months of work, after what I got a contract. This means for the period July-September I did not pay taxes, while from October it went automatically. Do you know how I should proceed with this? It’s all from the same ‘Employer’.

Thank you in advance!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Marta. This probably means you were working for them on a freelance basis before getting an employment contract. If you are registered as self-employed, you will need to declare this as per usual. If you were not registered as self-employed at that point (and your company just wanted to save a bit of money), what happened was not exactly in order, almost under the table, sort of.

Where should i send my tax return

I am a full time employee now, but previously I was getting a scholarship (from Charité, which was tax-free, it was stated in the first letter I received).

So basically my situation is the following:

September – December – salary

So I filled out everything needed for September-December on steuergo platform (as recommended here), but I don’t know what to do with the income I received in the first part of the year (stipendium). As said, it was tax free and it was really just for surviving. How to I enter it and in which from exactly? I can’t find a place for it!

I would greatly appreciate any help!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Sara, a quick research led me to this page and that page, both telling us that you don’t need to enter this amount, since it was tax-free. Hope this helps. You should double-check though.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello, I am a Mexican student that worked as an intern (internship) for 5 months in Germany using my Spanish nationality (no working visa required) in the year 2016. I earned a total gross wage of 6522 euros which I understand is below the tax-free allowance in Germany and I wonder if I am obligated to submit a tax declaration of the wage that I received during my internship.

I am now back in Mexico and I am considering to submit a tax declaration because I heard that I could get money from the income tax back. However, I am not sure if I want to do it because I am afraid that I could fill the tax declaration wrong and then get in trouble with German authorities.

Any help is welcome, I thank you in advance for your time.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Alejandro, as mentioned in the post; you are not obligated to submit a tax declaration. It’s up to you to decide to do one or not. As as student you can also claim some tax returns.

Where should i send my tax return

Is there a way to file for an extension since I won’t make the May 31st deadline?

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Puran, yes you can simply let your Finanzamt know you need an extension. They usually give you a few extra weeks then.

Where should i send my tax return

Hello, I’ve been on a German employment contract since the 1st January 2017 and leaving Germany on the 1st June.

My new employment contract is in Asia . I plan to de-register with the local authorities before my departure.

What’s my tax liabilities ? Do I need to declare my Asia income and is this taxed by the German authorities ?

Thanks for your advise .

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Ferhad, if you don’t plan to come back in 2018 or later, then there is no need to worry.

Where should i send my tax return

Thanks a lot for the really informative post!

I have been searching for something specific that I see in my “Lohnsteuerbescheinigung” but I can’t really get conclusive information…maybe someone here already heard about it.

In my “Lohnsteuerbescheinigung” it appears a Line 37 “AN-Anteil Zukunftsversicherung (ZVK)” that I don’t know where it goes. I was wondering if this could be added in the “Hauptvordruck, Sonderausgaben, Dauernde Lasten”…Would that make sense? I think the other alternative would be in the “Vorsorgeaufwand” but only when you already pay it before 2005, that is not my case. I would appreciate if anyone has an idea on this! Thanks!

Where should i send my tax return

Thanks a lot for this informative post.

As you stated in the post, it is optional for employees to declare their taxes. However, I learned that declaring tax will be mandatory once the employee declares the tax, i.e., it is optional as long as you don’t declare it once. I also heard that you can apply to the Financeamt so that they will revert it to optional. My question is, can one declare once, then revert to optional, then wait for four years and then declare? This way, it saves some time

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Sichal. I have never heard of such rule. Me and a few of my friends did it only once as employees and then didn’t do it the years after with no issues at all from the Finanzamt. You shouldn’t worry there. It’s optional for employees.

Where should i send my tax return

I have questions regarding tax return in Germany. I did internship from December 2015 to the end of June 2016. After that I have stayed in Germany learning German language, all the time Anmeldet. My income for the first six months of 2016 was 8400, and I didn’t work since the end of the internship. How much can money can I get back and what is the easiest way to do it?

Thanks in advance!

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Filip. This is hard to say without knowing more of your situation, expenses, etc. It’s probably worth it if you haven’t done it before though.

Where should i send my tax return

Thank you for your post.

I was wondering if you need to send the receipts of all the deducted expenses.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi Maite, in general no, especially if you are an employee, but you will need to be able to show them if the Finanzamt asks you.

Where should i send my tax return

Hi All. Reading through this page it is all related to either an employee or a freelancer. Does anyone know the specific forms that I would have to fill in if I am an employee in another country(Hong Kong) but I live in Germany? In this scenario I pay my taxes as per the Hong Kong tax guidelines.

I believe that I am in the situation where I may not have to pay taxes however I would prefer to submit the tax return regardless.

In addition does anyone know if there is a cheap service which I could get help in filing the return given the complication above.


where should i send my tax return

Sprintax is easy to use and works as follows:

  • You create an account, or log-in if you’ve already created an account.
  • You then answer some easy-to-understand questions.
  • Sprintax then reviews your details for all applicable allowances and deductions.
  • Sprintax finalizes the calculations and prepares your tax return.
  • You print your tax return, sign it and mail it to IRS.

Tip:If your university has given you a link to Sprintax – don’t forget to use it!

Sprintax offers a range of services to assist in the preparation of tax returns, including the following:

  • Federal tax preparation – 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ
  • State tax preparation
  • Form 8843
  • FICA
  • W7 – ITIN processing
  • Other NR forms and schedules

  • IRS compliance guaranteed
  • Federal & State tax return guidance and preparation
  • ITIN applications facilitated
  • Complete tax relief review
  • User-friendly system
  • Optimized tax return
  • Flexible service
  • 24/7 Live Help

What documents / information might I need to prepare my tax return?

  • Passport
  • US entry and exit dates for current and all previous visits to the US
  • All tax forms you’ve received (including Forms W-2, 1042-S and/or 1099, etc.)
  • Visa / Immigration Status information, including Form DS-2019 (for J visa holders) or Form I-20 (for F visa holders) Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • If you are using Sprintax for State Tax Return(s) preparation only, you will need a copy of the Federal Tax return you have already prepared
Tips
  • Make sure that you have all payment documents for the tax year you’re preparing your return for.
  • If you do not have an ITIN, Sprintax can still help you!

Do I need to list all my visits to the U.S. including those on a tourist visa and from long ago?

The exemption from the substantial presence test covers 5 years for students on J, F and M visas and it is given once for a lifetime and 2 out of 6 years for other exchange visitors, such as scholars, teachers, trainees on J, Q visas.

Respectively, to identify your eligibility to exclude days from the substantial presence test (to remain non-resident for tax purposes no matter how many days you stayed during the tax year), you must list all your visits.

Tourist visas may or may not affect your exempt status, however they may affect the days counted for the substantial presence test that will determine your residency.

I already graduated in May, am I a full time student/degree candidate?

F1 graduate students whose program requires immediate CPT, or students participating in post-completion OPT, who meet all the requirements of the OPT/CPT programs, do not change F1 student status while the practical training programs are treated as part of their study process.

If you’ve never received a Social Security Number, you will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to enable you to file your taxes.

An ITIN must be provided on tax returns, statements, and other tax related documents, for example you’ll need one:

  • When filing your tax returns
  • When claiming treaty benefits

Sprintax can organise this for you.

If you were married on the last day of the tax year, you do not have the option to file a return jointly with your spouse, if both you and your spouse are non-resident aliens. If you file Form 1040NR, your only option is to file a single tax return (married non-resident alien status is also treated as a single).

If you are citizen of Canada, Mexico or South Korea, or a student or business apprentice from India, by filing 1040NR, you may have the option to claim dependency exemptions for your family under certain circumstances which Sprintax will determine for you. If you are filing Form 1040NR-EZ, you can only claim "single non-resident alien" or "married non-resident alien", which are both treated as single filing status and you cannot claim dependency exemptions..

Dependent is a broad definition of a child or another member of your household. In general, non-residents are not allowed to claim dependents on their tax returns. However residents of Canada, South Korea, Mexico and some students or business apprentices from India may claim dependency exemptions for their family members the same way as residents of the US if certain conditions are met. You must use Form 1040NR in order to claim a dependent; the exemption cannot be taken on form 1040NR-EZ.

The April 18th tax deadline is the date by which all tax returns must be filed for the previous year. If you owe the IRS money and you don't file your tax return by April 18th, the IRS will impose late filing penalties and interest on the amount you owe, so the sooner you apply the better.

I will not be able to send my return on time. What should I do?

If you are not able to file your federal income tax return by the due date (April 18th), you may be able to get an automatic 6-month extension. To apply for the additional time, you must file 'Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return' by the original deadline for filing your tax return (April 18th).

You should note that Form 4868 is an extended deadline to file your tax return but is not an extension of time to pay any money due. If you owe any tax, you must estimate your tax liability on Form 4868 and pay any amount due at that time.

What is an 'instalment agreement' and does Sprintax provide such an option?

IRS permits people to make monthly payments through an instalment agreement if they're not financially able to pay their tax bill immediately. You will be required to pay a fee for setting up this agreement. However, it’s worth noting that you will reduce or eliminate the amount of penalties and interest you pay and avoid the set-up fee if you pay your tax bill in full when it’s due.

The Sprintax software does not facilitate instalment agreements; however we can still help. Contact the Sprintax team via our online chat system, toll free number 1-866-601-5695 or email [email protected] for additional information about instalment agreements.

When I’ve mailed my tax return to IRS how can I check the status of my tax return?

You can check the status of your federal tax refund at any time by using the "Where's My Refund?" tool on the IRS website. You can also call the IRS TeleTax System on (800) 829-4477 or the IRS Refund Hotline on (800) 829-1954. When you call or visit the IRS website, you will need the following information:

  • The first social security number shown on the federal return
  • Your filing status (single or married filing separately etc)
  • The exact amount of the refund shown on your federal return ($ amount of the refund)

If you underpaid your taxes you need to pay the outstanding amount to the relevant tax office before the deadline (April 18 for tax year 2016). If you end up owing additional taxes with your return, you have various options to pay your taxes. You can pay by check, bank transfer or use your credit or debit card.

You may need to prepare a payment voucher and mail it to the IRS with a check or money order if you choose this payment method. If you choose to pay with a payment voucher, Sprintax will provide the filled out form for you. You will find detailed information about the method you have chosen in your instructions.

Depending on your nationality (tax residency immediately before you entered the US) and other conditions, you may be able to claim a tax refund under an international 'tax treaty'. Tax treaties are agreements between the US and other countries that allow you to claim back tax you paid while working abroad.

Sprintax always checks if you're eligible for an international tax treaty when we prepare your US tax return. Your eligibility depends on factors like your nationality (tax residence), length of stay, purpose of your stay, type of income and visa.

If you have been present in the U.S. during the tax year on F, J, M or Q visa status and did not receive any income you should only file the Form 8843-Statement for Exempt Individuals, to explain the basis of your claim that you can exclude days of presence in the U.S. for purposes of the substantial presence test and to meet the obligations of your academic visa. Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government. Sprintax will help you prepare your 8843 form quickly and easily just by answering our straight forward questionnaire!

All you need to do is:

  • Create/Login to your account
  • Fill in some information about your stay in the U.S.
  • Finalize the process and review your form
  • Print, sign, and post to the tax office

In the United States, besides federal tax, there are also state taxes and local taxes (in addition to many other types of tax such as FICA, sales, property, etc). Whether you need to file a state tax return will depend on the tax rules of the state in which you lived and /or worked. Sprintax will prepare your federal tax return (if applicable) and if requested, we will also prepare your state tax return.

A Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, is used to help figure education credits (and potentially, the tuition and fees deduction) for qualified tuition and related expenses paid during the tax year which are specifically available for US citizens and residents. Foreign students and non-residents do not need 1098-T form for computation of their taxable scholarship and preparing their tax return.

As per the IRS instructions, Educational institutions do not have to file Form 1098-T or furnish a statement for:

  • Courses for which no academic credit is offered, even if the student is otherwise enrolled in a degree program
  • Non-resident alien students, unless requested by the student
  • Students whose qualified tuition and related expenses are entirely waived or covered entirely by scholarships
  • Students for whom the institution does not maintain a separate financial account and whose qualified tuition and related expenses are covered by a formal billing arrangement between the institution and the student's employer or a governmental entity, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defence.

Educational institutions must file this form for each student they enrol and for whom a reportable transaction is made. Insurers must also file Form 1098-T for each individual for whom they made reimbursements or refunds of qualified tuition and related expenses.

How long can I access my Sprintax online account for?

You can access your Sprintax account for as long as you like and if you choose to use our service for future tax years, you can still access the same account.

You can reset your password by clicking the “Forgot your password?” link in the log-in area. We’ll then send you a password reset email to the email address you gave us. Can’t see the password reset email we sent you? Check your spam folder in case it’s gone there.

Please make sure you use a valid and current email address and the same one that you used to register with Sprintax.

What should I do if I enter incorrect information on my tax return in Sprintax?

If you submit the wrong information on your tax return in Sprintax, you can simply go back through the steps, correct the information and submit your tax return once again. Sprintax won’t ask you to pay again for the changed tax return.

Please note that you are allowed to change any piece of information in your account, such as addresses, name and other personal data. However, to protect user’s privacy and security the user is allowed to change just one piece of unique personal information at a time and these are: your Name(s), Date of Birth and Social Security number. For example, if you made a mistake in your DoB and you want to correct it, you can do that, but you will be unable to change your name or SSN at the same time as those fields will be locked for editing.

What should I do if I discover a mistake on the tax return I filed with the IRS?

If you submit incorrect information on your tax return to the IRS, you will need to correct this by completing and filing a 1040X – Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. If you need assistance with this please contact us at [email protected]

Where can I enter my university access code (discount code)?

Simply enter the code on the ‘Review Your Order’ page to get your discount. You must have a different access code for every tax year and each code can only be used once.

Sprintax Individual User Pricing

If your individual circumstances are not supported by the Sprintax software, your tax return may be prepared offline instead. Please contact us at [email protected] and we’ll review your case and provide more information on our offline services and prices.

You can simply pay by credit card.

Where can I find my tax return in case I haven't printed or saved it?

If you need to reprint or modify your tax return, simply log-in to your account and click on the "Download Returns" section on the drop down menu in the top right corner.

Generally, this could be caused by something in your browser or computer interfering with normal network interaction. The issues that you encounter within your Sprintax account can be solved by:

  • Logging in through a different browser. Some versions of Google Chrome do not comply with the Sprintax software at 100%.
  • Clearing your browser cache and cookies - A cookie is a small file that is stored on your computer when you visit a website and contains information about your previous interactions with that website. Sometimes cookies can cause problems with your browser loading certain websites, especially if a website has recently gone through an update of its layout. The cache file saves parts of websites you have loaded, but just like cookies, can cause problems if a website has gone through a design change. Note: Clearing your browser cache and cookies may clear information that is saved to websites you visit, such as any usernames or passwords that may be saved and automatically entered each time you visit that site.
  • Perform a “hard refresh” in your browser (Windows: Ctrl+Shift+R / Mac: Command+Shift+R)

I received a letter from the IRS saying that my tax return is incorrect/ additional information is required– What should I do?

The letter from the IRS will provide information about the issue they believe is incorrect or incomplete. You should review the IRS letter and compare the issue(s) identified in the letter with the tax return completed in Sprintax and provide the information/documents in requested by the IRS (if any) by the due date stated in the notice.

You should contact the IRS directly on +1 267 941 1000, which is the phone number of the Non Resident department within the IRS. The best option is to call early in the morning (they open at 07.00 AM Easter time) when the hold time may not be as long.

Sprintax is a self-preparation tool so the information on your tax return will depend on the information you entered through the Sprintax software

Exact timelines are determined by the IRS on a case by case basis. Tax return processing time for paper tax returns (including non-residents 1040NR) is estimated at 4-6 weeks from the moment when the tax return is received within the IRS. Please, allow a further 1-2 weeks for mailing, if you requested a check before you contact IRS. Please note the IRS allow up to 6 months for the processing of non-resident returns.

What if I miss the April 18th deadline and file late, or don’t file at all?

Non-residents can apply for their tax refunds even after the April 18th deadline, but a return has to be filed no more than 3 years after the original deadline in order for the IRS to issue a refund.

You should not worry about the penalties and fines if you have no tax liability, the IRS will not penalize you if you do not file a return on time.

The deadline for filing your Form 8843 is the same as the deadline for filing your tax return (18th of April).

If you owe additional tax for the year, you must file a return and pay those taxes on time to avoid late filing and payment interest and penalties. The IRS charges substantial interest and penalties on past due taxes. Where there are additional taxes due, the IRS treats each late filer individually and calculates penalties and interest based on the balance due shown on the return or adjusted by the IRS. Once the IRS processes your return, they'll calculate the penalties and interest based on the number of days your return is late, and then send you a separate bill. For this reason, Sprintax cannot calculate late filing penalties or interest.

The terms of your visa require that you stay in compliance with all laws of the United States, including the rules relating to income tax filing. If you want to apply for permanent residence in the US at a later date you will be asked to prove that you have complied with all tax laws.

Your opinion of your Sprintax experience is very important to us and there are a number of different ways to provide your feedback:

The Sprintax team is ready to help! Ask us anything via our online chat system, call us for free on 1-866-601-5695 or email [email protected]

I filed my tax return with my form 1042-S. Should I expect a delay in processing of my refund?

If you requested a refund of tax withheld on a Form 1042-S by filing a Form 1040NR, IRS may need additional time to process the return. Please allow up to 6 months from the original due date of the 1040NR return (18th of April) or the date you actually sent your 1040NR, whichever is later to receive any refund due. Basically, refunds of federal tax reported on 1042-S is expected to start on or after 18th of October, 2017.


If HM Revenue and Customs have not sent me a tax return, what should I do?

See Am I liable to submit a tax return? for details on when a return needs to be completed. If you think that any of these circumstances apply and you have received a tax return from HMRC, or there has been some other change in your circumstances not covered here that makes you think you may be required to submit a return, you can contact HMRC about Self Assessment on 0300 200 3310 for advice.

If you have made a capital gain of more than £11,100 (your tax-free allowance, or Annual Exemption Amount for 2015/16) and/or started to receive income that is not taxed either entirely (or in part) before you get it (for example, rent payments to landlords or most income from National Savings & Investments accounts) and you have not received a tax return, you will need to contact HMRC by 5 October following the end of the year in which this happened – otherwise you may be liable to pay a penalty.

If you have started a new business you must not wait until 5 October to tell HMRC. You should register within three months of trading, even if you already complete a Self Assessment tax return.

You should keep HMRC informed about any changes you think may affect your tax position. This applies even if this is not a change that requires a tax return, as it may affect the tax you pay through PAYE. When contacting HMRC you need to tell them your tax reference, which your employer will be able to provide, and your National Insurance number. You will also find these on your notice of coding.


How Long Does It Take to Get My IRS Tax Refund? – Status & Tracking

There are times even better than Christmas – like the day that you get your tax refund check. But unlike Christmas, you never know when that exact day will come.

The good news is that the speed of getting one’s tax refund has increased exponentially since the early 1&909rsquo;s. Back when I was in college, I remember filing my taxes in March or April and then not seeing my paper check refund until as late as June. Plus, there was no real indication of the status of that refund. Information from the IRS was difficult to get in the days before the Internet.

Thankfully, filing taxes has changed quite a bit since 1990. Most significantly, we now have tax preparation software that walks taxpayers through the maze of income streams, tax credits, and overlooked tax deductions. Moreover, with the advent of technological advances, the turnaround time on tax refunds is as efficient as ever. In 2011, you can get your refund in as little as eight business days after filing.

So when will you get your tax refund? Let’s look at the two best options for tracking your refund and getting an approximate idea of when it will arrive. And then we’ll delve into five areas that can help ensure you will get your refund as quickly as possible.

Taxpayers who have a tax deficit or who owe taxes will usually wait until the tax filing deadline to send the required payment, but those of us who are expecting a refund want it now. The IRS has anticipated this strong desire and created two tools to help those of us who are compulsively checking our mailboxes twice a day to see if the refund has arrived.

IRS2Go is a smartphone app created by the IRS that is made to work with both the Android and iPhone software – it can be downloaded from iTunes or the Android Marketplace. The IRS website explains how the app works and has additional tax information benefits that are provided by the app. Personally, I think this might be a little overboard, but if you really, really need the money and want to know the second that the refund is issued…here you go.

The second tool is a webpage created by the IRS called, Where’s My Refund? Just enter your social security number, filing status, and amount of your refund, and the IRS will tell you the date that you will see your check or direct deposit. It is important to know that the refund arrival estimates are updated every Wednesday and you must wait at least 72 hours after filing to check on the status of your refund.

Now that you know how to check the status of your refund, here are 5 things you can do to make sure that you get your refund as quickly as possible.

It all starts with how quickly and error-free you file your taxes. Keep all of your tax documents, including your W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and deduction statements, in one place so that they are easy to find when you are ready to file. There is nothing worse than filing delays caused by your own personal filing system.

2. Use Online Tax Prep Software

Use tax software to guide you. It is usually much faster than attempting to figure out the IRS tax booklet, and the software ensures that you are compliant with current tax law and are maximizing your deductions. The amount of time that it will take to finish your return will vary based on how many income streams, deductions, and investment income sources you have. It takes me about five hours to prepare my return using free online tax preparation software like TurboTax, and I estimate that the average is somewhere around three hours.

This factor will play the largest role in how quickly you receive your tax refund. The IRS discontinued TeleFile (filing by phone) in 2005, so we are left with two filing options: paper file via snail mail and electronic filing via the Internet. If you paper file, it will take three to four weeks for the IRS to process the return and acknowledge your refund. If you e-file, you will get a notice of arrival within 24 hours and confirmation of refund within 72 hours.

Once your tax return is accepted and the refund approved, you can choose to have your money directly deposited in your bank account within a week. If you choose to have a paper check sent through the mail from the IRS, this option will add at least another two weeks to the process.

5. File on a Sunday or Monday

If you can control it, try to file on a Sunday or Monday to maximize the likelihood that you will receive your refund before the weekend. If you file on a Friday, your filing may very well not be processed until the following week.

There are other factors out of your control that may affect the speed of your refund like software glitches and the filing volume around the time you submit your taxes. No matter what steps you take to ensure quick refund, we are all at the mercy of the bureaucracy.

The reality is that once you hit that “e-file9rdquo; button or send in your tax return by mail, there is nothing more that you can do to speed up your refund. Checking your iPhone IRS app or “Where9rsquo;s My Refund” every hour may bring you peace of mind, but it will not bring you that money any faster. Remember the old adage: “a watched pot never boils”? If you are expecting a refund, file your return, relax, enjoy life, and eventually you will find a pleasant surprise in your mailbox or checking account.

Have you received your tax refund yet? How long did it take from the day you filed?