Taxpayers must file an income tax return steuererklarung if they have lived in Germany continuously for more than six months. They can submit it online or on paper using the software called ELSTER designed by the Federal Central Tax Office.
It’s free and you can do it anytime, from any computer. You can also download ELSTER on your phone for on-the-go filing.
Your tax ID is your permanent, unique number that you’ll need to register for all kinds of public benefits and business licenses. Every German resident has a tax ID, which is a 10 or 11 digit number that has the format “12 345 678 901”.
The first time you apply for a German address, you’ll get your tax ID in a letter from the Finanzamt. This will usually arrive around 4 weeks after you registered your address, sometimes longer.
Once you’ve registered, you can use your tax ID to apply for all kinds of benefits: child support (Kindergeld), pension and Kitagutschein. You can also use your tax ID to start a business.
Getting a tax ID is easy and doesn’t take long. If you’re a freelancer or own your own company, you’ll need to go to your local Finanzamt with your passport.
They’ll ask you to fill in some basic information about yourself and your line of work. They’ll give you a tax ID, and then you’ll keep this ID safe in case you need it later.
Your employer will usually give you a wage tax deduction at the beginning of each month, which is an advance payment on your annual income tax. When you file your tax return, the amount of wage tax that was deducted will be credited against your final tax liability.
There are also some other tax deductions that you can claim for if you’re working in Germany. You can claim for work-related moving costs, work clothing, continuing education or training and even travel expenses to and from the job site.
You can also write off certain household costs such as cleaning services or a housemaster or gardener. These are all specially labeled as ‘Haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen’ and are easy to calculate.
Expenses related to your children are also deductible, such as school fees and childcare services. You can also claim for travel expenses, such as train or plane tickets to visit family members.