New housing estate: The forms remained incomprehensible at first
Photo: Hans Blossey / IMAGO
I come out: As the son of a farmer, I bought a few pieces of land in Western Pomerania over the past few decades.
And I currently have to submit a property tax return for them, like millions of others.
And with magpie.
No problem really, I thought.
I'm not exactly inexperienced.
Two hours and five unsuccessful calls to the tax office later I was done - with my nerves.
The forms initially remained incomprehensible (to me), the error messages did not go away and when I called for help from the Greifswald tax office, the telephone machine greeted me five times in a friendly manner, only to throw me off the line directly and without comment.
And that's how it happened that I went to our website as editor-in-chief and used the help of my »Finanztip« colleague Jörg to fill in the form.
And I recommend you do the same.
My preparation for the property tax return
But first things first:
The tax authorities currently want such property tax returns for all 36 million properties in Germany.
This is intended to raise the property tax more fairly from 2025 - the trigger is a major rebuke by the constitutional judges to politics four years ago.
And because the administration has a lot of data, but it is often old, and it is not digital enough itself to bring the data together, we citizens should now do the digitization.
At the beginning of June I got the relevant activation data for my Elster from the tax office.
They also came pretty quickly in the mail.
At that time I had also prepared the official so-called parcel data for my properties.
In addition, the notarial purchase contract, the drawings of the location of the property and the size of one house.
I was already able to download the parcel data.
In fact, my colleague had already made five separate instructions for Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg, Hesse and Lower Saxony, because the property tax return in these countries works differently than in the so-called federal model.
This in turn applies to the other eleven federal states - and for them there is a sixth guide: a total of 75 pages.
But first I tried it all by myself.
I went to the Elster site and clicked "Login Now."
It was easy with a certificate file and password.
i was in
And I also found the right form (»Property tax for other federal states«), which now had to be filled out.
And then later has to be sent to the tax office responsible for the property, even if that is not the tax office responsible for you at your place of residence.
But then the first problem: I started to fill out the main form without immediately ticking the correct attachment.
This later caused problems that I got tangled up in.
Instructions: It's easy
So let's now follow my colleague's instructions: Mark the right attachment with a cross, for most of them the »Land property attachment (GW2)«.
Next you can enter the data for each individual piece of property on which you pay property tax on eight individual pages in the main form.
You shouldn't let the official German irritate you.
First of all, it is only a question of whether the property is developed or not and at which address the property can be found.
If you don't have an address for the property, for example because there is no house number, don't worry.
The land register sheet
But what you need in any case is your land register page, either from the notarial purchase contract or the map and the data simply from the Internet.
The parcel information can be obtained anonymously and free of charge from public authorities, for example here.
(You only need to prove a legitimate interest to know who the owner is.)
With the data you can then answer the actually simple questions about the parcel.
You probably know the district and municipality.
Then it's about the district - in the country the place or district, in the city the residential area.
Then it's about the corridor, a part of the area.
And finally the lot (most would say "lot").
And of course the size of the plot in square meters.
numerator and denominator
Then something disturbing happens.
You will be asked for the numerator and denominator of your parcel.
But often it just has a number: 17, 8 or 77. If your parcel has the number 8, just enter an 8 in the numerator and simply leave the field for the denominator empty - even if a fraction with a number in the numerator does not one in the denominator does not make mathematical sense.
If, on the other hand, your parcel has the number 12/1, enter 12 in the numerator and 1 in the denominator. You face the same challenge in input fields 17 and 18.
(Caution: These numbers can be different in the five other federal states.) In the best official German, the question is asked about the »share belonging to the economic unit: numerator/denominator«.
If, for example, there is only one single-family house on the property, you must enter 1 in each case.
It becomes more difficult if you own a condominium with a piece of land.
Then here you need to fill in the crooked dates of your share, say 543 for your share in the numerator and 10,000 for the total property in the denominator.
And then you have to do the math.
Namely, if the plot were 5000 square meters, 543/10,000 of it would be 271.5 square meters.
Round the number down to 271 and do not enter it immediately in the line above in input field 16 under area, but only later in line 4 of the »Annex property (GW2)«.
Because the line above must expressly state the entire area of the property - and not just your share.
Your ownership interest - again with the numerator and denominator in a different meaning - is also an important category - on line 30 of the main form.
The term "share in the economic unit (property of land/operation of agriculture and forestry)" is used here.
It is only a matter of whether you submit the declaration for the entire property here, because you alone own the house on the property.
However, it could also be the case that you own the property together with your husband, ex-husband or siblings.
Enter the data accordingly.
1 in the numerator for you, and if it's yours alone, also in the denominator.
If it belongs to you with your husband, if there is a 2 in the denominator, if you have two siblings, it belongs to you with a 3 – and so on.
Exciting: Only one of you can make the statement for the property.
So you should discuss beforehand who will find the bureaucracy easiest.
As you can see, it's not that easy.
And that was only the main form so far, I also had to fill out the »Annex property (GW2)«.
If only I had been less proud and would have looked for the filling-in help instead of working out such details myself!
more on the subject
Anger at Elster: How the digital property tax return makes citizens desperateBy Markus Böhm and Jörg Breithut
The same thing will have happened to other taxpayers.
And some of them may have shut their computers angrily at first.
In any case, the Federal Ministry of Finance has announced that in the first of the four months for filling out the declaration, just 2.9 million of the 36 million declarations arrived.
So only every twelfth declaration was made.
Tax consultants, bank employees and also local councilors are currently being bombarded with inquiries as to whether they can help with the work on the property tax return.
Chambers of agriculture help farmers with their property issues, chambers of crafts the craftsmen.
Children their parents who are not so digital.
If you have a more complicated case, then it also makes sense to seek advice.
And to secure an appointment for the consultation, which is certainly not always free of charge, as soon as possible.
There is even an extra page in the form of the property tax return on which you can name your helping hand when filling it out.
Just as I confessed my initial bankruptcy to you, I'll also tell you that you don't need this help from others for your single-family home or your condominium.
You can do that yourself. With my favorite filling-in aid – suitable for all federal states.
I wish you success.