You can recoup many of your study costs by filing a student tax return. We give you all the tips and information you need on deadlines, deductible expenses, and the obligation to file a tax return.
Table of contents - Tax returns for students
When is it worth filing a tax return as a student?
Many people studying probably think filing a tax return isn’t worth it because they don't work full time, but this is not true. As a student, you have more expenses during your studies than you might realize, and many of them are tax-deductible (find those under 4).
In some instances, it may be mandatory for a student to file a tax return:
How much tax do you get back as a student?
This generally cannot be determined, though, the latest figures show that employees who have submitted a tax return for a year receive an average of 1,095 euros back from the tax office.
For students, this amount is usually lower. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t file – a tax refund for a student can be very worthwhile.
As a student, you have a lot on your mind, but a tax return may not be one of those things. Inken explains everything you need to know about how to file your taxes as a student and, above all, answers the most important question: Is it worth it?
How do you file a tax return as a student?
Finish your tax return even faster.
What can I deduct from my taxes as a student?
Your expenses during studies may be different or lower than at a later stage in life and employment – but you still have every opportunity to get good money back from the taxman!
Semester fee, examination fees, admission tests, seminar expenses
Drive to the university or library. Also: journeys between the main residence and the second residence
0.30 euros per km one way, from km 21: 0.38 euros. Max: 4,500 euros
Telephone and internet costs
Smartphone contract, internet at home, landline
20 euros per month (240 euros per year)
Computer, tablet, software and peripherals
No, but full depreciation is possible in the same year or within 12 months. Only partial use for the study can be claimed for tax purposes
Literature and other tools
Specialist literature, special equipment, didactic materials, printing and copying costs, pens, pads, etc.
No, deducting the actual amount or using the non-complaint limit ("Nichtbeanstandungsgrenze") of 110 euros (not guaranteed, but mostly accepted)
Possible in the case of a student flat as a second home ("Zweitwohnung")
No, rent is fully deductible
Interest on student loan repayment
No, credit costs are fully deductible
Which tax class are students in?
As a student, you usually fall into tax class 1 – also the standard class for employees – but exceptions can occur:
With Germany's most popular mobile tax app, you can do your tax return in no time.
Losses carry-forward: claim taxes back in the future
With the loss carry-forward, you can take losses into the period after your studies too, saving on taxes in your first year of work.
Tax returns for second education
In contrast to a first degree, a second degree/secondary education is considered further education. As an example, expenses for your Master's degree, or a course of study after you have completed an apprenticeship or another course of study can be deducted in a tax return as further education costs.
These are considered income-related expenses, and can therefore be deducted in full. This saves you income tax during your studies.
Tax return for first degree studies
A first degree refers to a person’s first course of study.
If this is one's first education at all – for example, no training was completed before the studies – these studies are then considered as initial education.
If we assume that the first study is also the first training, the allowable expenses are only deductible as special expenses, not as income-related expenses, as in the case of second training (see above). The maximum deductible amount is limited to 6,000 euros.
Deadlines for student tax returns
If you are studying and are , you have the same amount of time to do so as other mandatory tax filers. Unfortunately, there is no relief for student tax returns. Since you are required to file a tax return for several jobs, you should be aware of this deadline.
Deadlines for mandatory submissions:
It is important to note in general that students are not required to file a tax return. But, since a student tax return can still be very worthwhile, we recommend calculating your possible tax refund with our .As with other tax groups, students have four years to file a voluntary tax return.
Deadlines for voluntary submissions:
Even if you haven't submitted a tax return in recent years, it's not too late! As a student, you can file voluntary tax returns for up to 4 years retroactively.
For example, until the end of 2024, you can file your tax return for 2020 and the following years with the tax office.
The tax office pays you interest
If you file your tax return late, you may even receive more money from the state. If you have not filed a tax return for the last few years, the tax office will pay you interest on the amount you get back. Although a few conditions do apply, this means you can get even more money from the tax office!
Tax return for students: ELSTER vs. Taxfix
As you have already read, Taxfix is very different from the classic online service. Students who do their tax returns with ELSTER are required to fill out complex forms that are often very difficult to understand.
The questions in the Taxfix app, however, are intuitive, simply worded and offer an explanation box if you get stuck.
ELSTER usually makes you fill out several forms, whereas with , you can complete the question and answer procedure in one go. In the meantime, you can switch from smartphone to app and back - your data is constantly synchronised.
We also point out deductible costs that you might have missed. Combined with the plausibility check for your entries, nothing stands in the way of your tax refund!
Complete the question-answer flow in less than half an hour on average!
With Taxfix, you can complete your tax returns from 2019-2022, in no time at all. No tax knowledge is necessary – simply choose to complete your Taxfix tax return yourself, or have an independent tax advisor do it for you. What are you waiting for?Start now