For many working people, filing a tax return is a chore. But as time-consuming as it may be, in many cases it gives money back from the state.
Admittedly, there are nicer things than spending the free weekend preparing your tax return. Many people can't imagine anything more horrible than dealing intensively with the complex regulations of German tax law. Who is supposed to see through all the different regulations? For this reason, a third of taxpayers refrain from submitting the forms to the tax office altogether. It's a shame about the money that you get refunded in many cases.
When is the tax return voluntary?
It is mandatory for the self-employed, traders and farmers to file a tax return, regardless of the amount of income. Employees, on the other hand, are automatically deducted from their monthly salary. They are only obliged to pay the tax if they exceed certain income limits or have additional income, for example from renting and leasing. Therefore, in most cases, the tax return is voluntary for employees.
However, if you are smart, you will recognize the financial benefits and still take care of submitting the forms to the tax office on time. In 90 percent of cases, a whopping sum is returned. According to the Federal Statistical Office, an average of 1,095 euros is reimbursed by the state. In total, you have four years to submit your tax return voluntarily. You can therefore still file your tax return for 2019 until 31 December 2023.
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Tax return: Is it worth it for me?
A common misconception is that the tax return is not worth it at all. According to the German Economic Institute and Köln Consult, many employees mistakenly believe that there is nothing to deduct from them. However, it is often forgotten what can be deducted from the tax. Do you pay church tax or have you made donations? Then you can deduct these contributions as special expenses.
Each employee is also entitled to a lump sum of 1,200 euros for income-related expenses. This lump sum is automatically deducted from the gross salary when filing your tax return. If the advertising costs are higher, then there is correspondingly more money back. Be aware of how many things you can actually deduct from your taxes: the result may be surprising. Whether health insurance and long-term care insurance contributions, completed training or travel expenses: You can list all these things in your tax return. Extraordinary burdens such as medical expenses bring additional tax advantages. These include expenses for aids such as glasses and dentures, co-payments for prescribed medication and alternative practitioner costs.
Tax return: You have to reckon with this amount of time
Of course, you have to invest a little time. According to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, taxpayers spend an average of 6.3 hours processing their tax forms. The survey of 1,000 employees also revealed that women generally need more time to process their documents. The higher the level of education, the more complex and correspondingly time-consuming the tax return becomes. Nevertheless, given the expected refund, it is worth taking care of filling out the forms for one or more days.
You should allow © enough time to fill out the tax forms IMAGO
Help with tax returns
Everything that has to do with taxes and payments is a real torture for you? Then seek help. For example, through tax software that guides you step by step through the tax return. Even the inexperienced, thanks to the useful programs, manage to fill in all the fields without errors. The costs range from eight to 60 euros, depending on the desired functions. Tip: You can deduct the expenses for the software from your taxes in the coming year. With Elster, on the other hand, the tax return is free of charge.
Alternatively, there is the possibility to join an income tax assistance association. For an admission fee and annual fee, it prepares the income tax return for employees, civil servants, trainees, students, pensioners and pensioners. According to the Federal Association of Income Tax Assistance Associations (BVL), the membership fee amounts to 50 to 390 euros. In addition, there is the admission fee of 10 to 15 euros.