Tax return for single parents: How to increase your household budget with your tax return

The number of single mothers and fathers has risen sharply compared to 2000. Every fifth child (about 2.4 million) lives only with the mother or father. For many, this living situation is associated with numerous financial challenges. In this article, we would like to use a tangible example to explain which additional income sources are open to making more money available for the family.
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An (almost) real-life story

Nina is 37 and a single parent. She works as a dental assistant in Hamm, north of Dortmund. Her little son Alexander has just turned five years old. They live in a two-room apartment not far from kindergarten. To be with her son in time after work because of the kindergarten’s opening hours, Nina bought a car two years ago. She can still cover her expenses for rent, food, and insurance. To finally go on vacation with her son, Nina is more frugal with her money this year. For example, she cooks late in the evening for the lunch break the next day. She is continuously looking for discounted offers.

Saving costs a lot of time, especially since Nina also has to take care of her household and, of course, Alexander. So, where does that leave time to deal with finances in detail? Or to put it another way: Does it actually make sense to file a tax return?

Singles parents should file a tax return... it usually pays off.

This applies to low and high earners, to singles, single parents and married people. Because it is not the relationship status or the income level that is decisive, but the tax burden and the further financial burden in the year for which a person submits the tax return. With the tax return, one has then the possibility of getting back the taxes paid too much.

In the payroll, as with any other employee, part of the salary is transferred from the employer to the Tax Office for social and health insurance and, of course, taxes. The amount of the deduction depends on the wage and tax class. As a single person, for example, Nina has the tax class II.

Tax class 2: made for single parents

What are the requirements?

  • You file an application for tax class II with the tax office.
  • You have a minor child living in your household for whom a child allowance or child benefit can be claimed.
  • No other adult person is living in the household who can act as an additional legal guardian.
As soon as an adult person can act as an additional legal guardian (e.g., the partner) registers his/her primary residence in your household, you are no longer entitled to tax class II. The legislator no longer recognizes you as a single parent.

With tax class II, single parents receive additional tax easement in the form of the “relief amount for single parents”. This applies in addition to all other tax-free amounts up to 1,908 euros per year for a minor child. For each additional minor child, the annual amount increases by 240 euros.

This type of tax relief makes it possible for Nina to have some hundred euros more of her gross salary in her pocket than i.e. in tax class I (often used by singles persons). The “single parent relief amount” can be claimed retroactively in the tax return, even if you are not yet in tax class II, but meet all conditions.

What happens if the child grows up in several households?

In general, only one parent can claim the same child’s relief amount for the same month. Suppose a child is cared for equally in both households, depending on the switching model. In that case, the parents can divide among themselves who is entitled to the relief amount. If the parents do not decide on this, the parent to whom the child benefit is paid receives the single parent relief amount.

With the tax return, there are many ways to reduce the tax burden by stating income-related expensesAny expenses incurred in the acquisition, securing, and maintenance of income – meaning expenses directly connected with your work. They are deducted from your taxable income and therefore reduce your …
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and special expenses and to reclaim taxes paid retroactively.
For example, Nina achieved a tax refund of over 1,300 euros for 2018 by declaring care costs, flat-rate travel allowance, work equipment, other advertising costs, and special expenses.

To receive a tax advantage as a single person, the tax office must first accept the person as a single. This is achieved by filling out the insurance policy for the relief amount for single parents. At least one of the children is underage and there is no other person of full age registered in the household who could be a parent.

If the application is approved, an additional annual allowance of 1,908 euros for the first minor child and 240 euros for each other minor child is automatically granted.
Which parent receives the single parent allowance is freely selectable. Usually, it is the parent who also gets the child benefit.

Life as a single, working parent is a financial challenge. A tax advantage can help to ease the burden. Therefore, it is essential to claim the numerous special expenses and reclaim taxes paid too much.

Julian Schwarzmann
by Julian Schwarzmann
published on: 18.08.2022
updated on: 18.10.2022

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