Tax Declaration

How can I file my tax returns in Germany?

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The tax return has to do with the most notable tax we pay: the income tax ("Einkommensteuer"). Income tax is deducted from the money you earn over the year, i.e. your salary as an employee, your income from self-employment, as well as, for instance, the interest you win from your savings or rental income. You can learn more about different types of tax in our chapter "German Tax System".

Tax returns are handed to the Tax Office ("Finanzamt") once a year. Whether you have to file a tax return depends on various factors. In principle, self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs are required to file a tax return and must ensure they disclose their incomes to the Tax Office and transfer the due taxes. If you are employed, however, it is your employer who deducts the due income tax (as "Lohnsteuer") from your salary and transfers it directly to the Tax Office. So, as an employee, you often are not obliged to file a tax return. Nevertheless, it may be worth the effort because the Tax Office may have collected more than it was due. Therefore, filing a tax return can possibly mean the Tax Office will refund you.

What do I need to know?

What types of income oblige me to pay an income tax?

How much income tax do I have to pay?

Do I have to pay income tax as a pensioner, student, "mini-jobber" or unemployed individual?

Do I have to file a tax return?

Is it worthwhile to voluntarily submit a tax return?

What types of tax relief are there for families?

What can I deduct from my taxable income as a self-employed individual?

Where and how can I file my tax return?

What deadlines do I need to keep in mind?

What happens if I submit my tax return too late?

What happens if I do not pay taxes?

Where can I get help with my tax return?


If you live in Germany but earn money abroad, you may also have to pay taxes on the income in question in Germany. There are some double taxation agreements ("Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen") among Germany and many other countries to rid taxpayers of double-taxation (once elsewhere and once in Germany). You can learn more about such agreements on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance.