Should I file a voluntary tax return in Germany?

Not all taxpayers are obligated to file tax returns. Nevertheless, 9 out of 10 taxpayers receive a refund when filing a tax return. We discuss what's the average tax refund you can expect and what you need to bear in mind.
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In a couple of clicks, our tax calculator will help you decide if a tax return is worthwhile for you when you’re not a mandatory tax filer. All you need to do is answer a few simple questions.

Optimized for Kurzarbeit and ALG I

Have you faced short-time work (Kurzarbeit) in 2020 or 2021 and are, therefore, obligated to file your taxes? Use Taxfix and file your taxes quick and easy.

What is meant by a mandatory tax filer?

Some employees face a legal obligation to submit the tax return: the assessment obligation (Veranlagungspflicht). The tax office assumes that too little tax has been deducted.

There can be many reasons for such a tax obligation:

  • when you have several employers, you’re obligated to file a tax return if your income tax calculation does not account for all your salaries.
  • income tax submission is mandatory if both spouses receive wages and one person is in tax class V, VI or IV with a factor.
This article explores the different tax cases where you qualify as a mandatory tax filer. If you are a mandatory tax filer, pay close attention to the tas deadlines stated in the article as well.

Income replacement benefits have been more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees receive or have received short-time work allowance or unemployment benefits (ALGI) after termination of contract. Once you receive an income higher than 410 euros from such benefits (which most people do), you are obligated to file a tax return!

Why should I file a voluntary tax return?

Non-mandatory tax filers can submit voluntarily tax returns. In most cases, a voluntary tax return pays off well. Often those who are not obliged to submit a tax return can expect a tax refund and recover the overpaid taxes from the state.

Cases where filing a voluntary tax return is worth it

Filing a tax return voluntarily can be worthwhile if:

The average tax refund you can expect

The Federal Statistical Office has evaluated that of the approximate 13.7 million people in Germany who submitted a tax return in 2016,12 million received a tax refund. On average, the refund was 1.051 Euro.

You can expect an average tax refund of 1,051 euros. At Taxfix you get at estimate of your expected tax refund by simply answering the easy-to-understand questions find out. Instead of using tax extensive forms, you enter your tax situation in the app or browser and Taxfix calculates the expected tax refund for free and without obligation. You can then decide whether you want to submit with Taxfix (via the ELSTER interface).In some cases, filing a tax return with Taxfix is free of charge as well.

You can withdraw miscalculated tax returns

You have submitted a voluntary tax return and are expecting a tax refund. But according to the tax assessment, the tax office is demanding an additional payment? No problem. Your voluntary submission gives you a certain period when you can appeal against the tax assessment.

At the same time, submit your application for an assessment according to §46 Para. 2 No. 8 EStG back. Your tax return is then deemed unsubmitted and you do not have to make any additional payments.

File taxes for 4 years retroactively

A big advantage of submitting your voluntary tax return is that you don’t have the usual tax deadlines are bound. You can take your time. You can submit your voluntary tax return retroactively until after 4 years .

You can still submit your voluntary tax return for the year 2018 until the end of 2022 to your responsible tax office.

Voluntary tax returns are worth it

In most cases, you can expect a tax refund if you file a voluntary tax return. That’s reason enough to try it yourself!

If you’re unsure about filling out tax forms, download the Taxfix app onto your smartphone Download or open it in your browser. It takes a few easy steps to complete your tax return.

With easy-to-understand questions and no difficult tax jargon, the app helps you to complete your tax return in less than 30 minutes and calculates your expected tax result for free, which usually shows up as a refund.

A voluntary tax return is worth it! Get started right away with Taxfix. Start for free
Jana Teuber
by Jana Teuber
published on: 18.08.2022
updated on: 06.09.2022

Optimized for Kurzarbeit and ALG I

Have you faced short-time work (Kurzarbeit) in 2020 or 2021 and are, therefore, obligated to file your taxes? Use Taxfix and file your taxes quick and easy.

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About Taxfix

With Taxfix you can do your tax return quickly and paperless from anywhere – both via the app on your smartphone and online in the browser. You provide information about your tax situation according to the question-and-answer principle and have your possible refund calculated. Your data will then be securely transmitted via the ELSTER interface.