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This is how you get the most out of your tax return


Taxpayers get an average of 1000 euros back from the tax office every year - the deadline for 2020 ends at the beginning of November. The Corona year had some fiscal finesse. The tips at a glance.

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Tax return (symbol image): Made quickly with software

Photo: Christian Ohde / IMAGO

If you have to submit your tax return for 2020 and have not yet done it, you should start now.

You must have submitted your documents by November 1st.

This is especially true for millions of recipients of short-time work benefits.

Otherwise you have to expect a delay surcharge of at least 25 euros per month.

2020 was a special year.

This can now be seen again in the tax return.

It used to have to be handed in by the end of May and then by July at the latest. This time the tax administration has given us taxpayers longer time;

in some federal states, where All Saints' Day is a public holiday, even until November 2nd.

This extended period of time also benefits the tax administration, which had its hands full with the consequences of the corona crisis.

Short-time work allowance and taxes

And these repercussions are also considerable when it comes to taxes. For many, the biggest chunk is probably short-time allowance payments in the past year. All recipients who have received short-time work benefits in excess of EUR 410 must submit a tax return. That's millions of workers. This also applies to recipients of unemployment benefit, parental benefit or sickness benefit.

No taxes are due on the short-time work allowance as well as the other wage replacement benefits.

But the payments increase the assessment base and lead to the fact that many recipients of short-time work benefits will now have to pay additional taxes in 2020 (so-called progression proviso).

The following generally applies: Anyone who has been on 100 percent short-time allowance for a few weeks or months will probably not have to pay back;

On the other hand, if you have received short-time work benefits for months in addition to part of your normal wages, you can expect a proper back payment.

High additional earnings due to Corona

A second group that will have to submit unfamiliar tax returns are early retirees who have made use of a special rule for 2020 and 2021.

Normally, early retirees are allowed to earn a maximum of 6300 euros a year in addition to their pension, otherwise the pension will be reduced.

In order to get all women and men on board to fight the corona challenge, especially in the health sector, the legislature has increased this limit to 44,590 euros for 2020 and even to 46,060 euros in 2021.

This means that there is no risk of a pension reduction even if you have substantial additional earnings.

But of course these additional earnings have to be taxed.

They are well above the tax-free earnings from the mini-job that is otherwise common for early retirees, which - taxed at a flat rate - does not have to be entered in the tax return at all.

Get more out, pay less

On average, taxpayers in this country have paid a good thousand for years when they submit their declaration.

In the past few years, 88 percent of tax returns resulted in a refund.

In 2017 it was an average of 1051 euros.

It is therefore generally worthwhile to make such a declaration.

For most of them, because they are just getting a lot of money back from the state.

For others, it's important to make the statement sensibly so that they don't have to pay back as much.

Which rules bring how much is in principle the same for all groups.

The classic tax return is not rocket science. With good control software or a suitable app, you can easily do the job at the weekend. And if you are there once and have not done it yet, use the software to postpone the explanations for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. That could bring in another 1000 euros per year.

What is important is what you can deduct from your taxable income. In any case, you don't have to pay any taxes in 2020 for the first 9,408 euros; they are tax-free as a subsistence level. In the case of employees, the sum is deducted pro rata from the taxable income every month. The same applies to tax exemptions because you have to take out health insurance and make provisions for old age with the statutory pension or in a pension fund, raise your own children and provide for them financially. The employer knows that. In addition, there are many other possible deductions that the employer cannot know in detail. You will not have to pay any taxes on this part of your income either.

There are also a number of expenses for craftsmen and home service providers that reduce your tax liability.

This is what it means in tax German: With such expenses, you can deduct part of the invoice from your tax liability afterwards.

The nice thing about it: These deductions are the same percentage for everyone.

The editor-in-chief doesn't benefit any more than the journeyman plumber.

If you simply deduct your income, however, it is primarily the higher-income earners who benefit.

Deduct business expenses from wages

First of all, you can deduct all costs related to your job from your taxable income.

However, your employer has already deducted 1,000 euros a year from the payment of the salary, i.e. employee lump sum.

The classic among income-related expenses is the flat-rate commuting allowance: you have to travel to work, and you can deduct the costs from your income as a lump sum. 30 cents for every kilometer between home and work for every working day on which you drove to work. It doesn't matter whether you are traveling by car, bike or train. If the commute to work is 20 kilometers long and you drive to work on 220 days, the costs for this alone are € 1,320, i.e. more than the € 1,000 employee lump sum that has already been deducted. If you have more costs, it is really worth it when filing your tax return. By the way: Since the beginning of the year, long-distance commuters have benefited from an increased distance flat rate of 35 cents from the age of 21.Distance kilometers - so for the first time with the tax return for 2021 next year.

Home office

Here, too, there is an important special regulation for 2020: the home office flat rate.

Your company asked you to work at home because of Corona.

You can claim a flat fee of five euros for these working days - for up to 120 working days in the last year.

Even if you have worked at the kitchen table without a study.

But be careful: Either you are in the home office or you have driven to work.

So please do not claim a flat rate for distance and home office for the same working day.

With home office you can benefit even more in terms of tax: If you had to work from home for a few days and you have your own study, then you can deduct the expenses capped at 1250 euros as income-related expenses from taxable income in 2020. It is important that the study has a lockable door and that it is used almost exclusively for work. The game console has no place there. To be on the safe side, you have documented your work and the furnishings in the study with photos in case the tax office asks you later.

Even more lucrative: For example, because of Corona, you actually had to work the majority of the working days in your private study.

Then you can claim the proportionate living costs for this study from the tax.

With 1000 euros monthly rent for 100 square meters and 15 square meters of study, that is 150 euros per month as long as you were in the home office.

If you have purchased a new desk, screen or other office furniture, you can deduct these costs additionally.

This applies to each piece of furniture up to 800 euros plus VAT, including the desk chair at the kitchen table.

Other deduction options

But not only advertising expenses are worthwhile with the tax return.

You can also deduct special expenses from your taxable income.

This includes your church tax as well as expenses for retirement provisions, donations, but also childcare costs and school fees.

Well-paid Riester savers also benefit from a special expense allowance.

Perhaps not every year, but in some years exceptional burdens that you can claim against your tax are particularly important.

You can claim high doctor or hospital bills, floods, costs for caring for your parents or for personal disasters if certain minimum sums are exceeded.

That is why it is often worthwhile to buy the new glasses in the same year as the treatment at the dentist with the expensive implant.

Reduce the tax liability

In addition to the advertising costs and extraordinary burdens, you will certainly have incurred a lot of other bills in 2020 that you can claim for the tax office.

The most important categories are craft costs and household services.

Craftsman costs

For example, you used 100 percent short-time work to finally rebuild the garden.

The horticultural company helped and in the end wrote a hefty bill of 6,000 euros, of which 4,000 euros were labor and travel expenses.

You can claim this and deduct 20 percent of it directly from your tax burden.

In total, you can claim 6,000 euros in wages and travel expenses for tradespeople for everything related to your household and thus deduct up to 1,200 euros from your tax liability.

Household services

There is even more money in it if you have employed companies or self-employed persons in 2020 who have helped you in-house. This ranges from the labor costs for the cleaning man, who does the basic cleaning of the apartment every two weeks, to the bill for the moving company. You can also quote one or the other craftsman's calculation here. The only thing that matters is: The work must be carried out in your house, apartment or on your property. The service provider has to write a proper invoice and you have to transfer the money. You can specify costs of up to 20,000 euros that reduce your tax burden by up to 4000 euros (20 percent).

Every tenant can state household-related services in the tax return, because part of the ancillary housing costs for rent always belongs to this category.

And more than half of the people in Germany rent a house.

The corresponding costs are often listed separately in the landlord's ancillary costs statement.

If you now collect everything on the weekend and submit your tax return electronically to the tax office at the beginning of the week - ideally with the help of a pre-filled tax return, make a note of the date.

And see how long it takes to get a decision.

Some people filed their tax returns in March.

I'm interested in whether they can then be served more quickly at the tax office.

If you really can't make it these days, then you can always contact a tax advisor or an income tax relief association.

They like to do it, you will then have until the end of May 2022. That will cost money, however.

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-10-23

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