Symbolbild Steuererklärung 2020

Tax Return 2020: File voluntarily and save

The tax return deadline for mandatory filers in 2020 was on November 01, 2021. If you missed it, here’s what you can do now. 

If you’re not obligated to file, we still urge you to complete the tax return – a big refund might be waiting. We show you how it works.

Symbolbild Steuererklärung 2020

Who is obligated to file the tax return for 2020?

In case you’ve been working for more than one employer you have to file taxes for the respective year. Also, being married and having a certain combination of tax classes can lead make you a mandatory filer.

If you’ve received  compensation from the state for short-time work (Kurzarbeitergeld) or unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld) in the previous year, you have an obligation to file your 2020 taxes. To know for sure if you’re a mandatory filer, read this detailed article on mandatory filers.  


After analysing your tax situation, you might find yourself obligated to file a tax return for 2020. Usually, if you’re a mandatory filer, the tax office will send you reminders to file your returns when you miss the tax deadline. 

In case you aren’t obligated to file a tax return, a voluntary tax return for 2020 may benefit your finances. We will explain, when you can benefit from it and how the German tax system with Lohnsteuer (income tax) and Einkommensteuer (income tax) works. 

Tax Return 2020: Why you should file voluntarily

The deadline for mandatory filing for the tax year 2020 may have passed, but for voluntary filers, the deadlines are far more relaxed.


Voluntary filers have plenty of time to judge if the tax return will be beneficial or not. In 9 out of 10 cases, filing taxes brings back refunds and improves your financial situation by saving you your hard-earned money. That’s a great cushion, especially in uncertain times like the COVID-19 pandemic.


There is an important number to that: Around 88% of the people (in Germany) who filed taxes in 2020 got a refund. Moreover, the average tax refund in Germany is EUR 1,072. The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to filing a tax return.

Deadline for the tax return 2020: Until when can mandatory filers submit their taxes?

When it comes to filing your taxes in Germany, there are certain deadlines and dates you have to follow. Otherwise, there can be heavy financial penalties.

Mandatory tax return 2020

The deadline for filing taxes is usually at the end of July of the following year. By that logic,the tax deadline for 2020 should have been July 31, 2021. BUT: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s an increase in the number of mandatory filers. Therefore, the tax deadline has been postponed. 

It was October 31, 2021. 

If you do your taxes with the help on a tax advisor, there is more time to file.

Tax deadline 2020 with a tax advisor: May 31, 2022

Our blog article highlights additional information on the deadlines for (mandatory) filing.

Retrospective filing for mandatory tax declarations

If you missed the deadline for your mandatory tax return, we urge you to act quickly. One pressing reason to file quickly is that the tax office can slam late-tax penalties on mandatory filers who have missed the tax deadline. The penalties have increased in 2019 and you can face them anytime after the deadline.

The most notable penalty late filers face is the so-called ‘Verspätungszuschlag’  or penalty for late filing.  

This penalty applies (latest) from the 15th day of the month after the deadline onwards. The tax office reserves the right to apply this penalty as early as it seems fit.

The tax office usually sends a reminder if mandatory filers don’t submit tax returns on time. However, this does not stop the tax office from issuing penalties before sending out reminders.

On top of that,  there are additional the tax office can use, like penalty payments (Zwangsgeld).

Retrospective tax return 2020: Act now!

Regardless of penalties—we advise you to file your retrospective tax return as soon as possible. That’s how you mitigate the risk of high penalties, or any fine at all.

To deal with taxes without stress and in less time,  as well, give Taxfix a try. Our inquiry-response process helps you file tax returns intuitively—without complex tax jargon. You don’t need to deal with printed tax forms, and, yet have a high chance for the highest possible refund. 

Start the intuitive and non-binding tax return now!

Voluntary filing for 2020: The benefits of filing now

There isn’t as much time pressure for voluntary tax returns — you get 4 years to complete them. In the year 2021, it’s possible to file for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2022, filing the 2017 tax return won’t be possible anymore.

In our experience, we have seen voluntarily tax returns earn great refunds. Reasons for the unexpectedly high refunds could be high income-related expenses or other spendings you might have forgotten already. Taxfix helps you remember these expenses and file them correctly and thoroughly. 

Why don’t you file for several years in one go? In doing so, you’ll get multiple tax refunds at the same time! 

The respective deadlines for voluntary filing are mentioned in our article. 

Frau, die mit dem Rücken zur Kamera steht, sich zum Betrachter umdreht und dabei von der Sonne angestrahlt wird

Your tax-return in less than half an hour

Designed with the help of tax experts, the Taxfix app empowers you to reclaim overpaid taxes each year. Simple, fast, secure, ELSTER-certified.

What do I need for the 2020 tax return and what can I deduct?

To file your tax returns correctly and make the tax office happy, you’ll need the following documents: 

  • Your tax identification number (Steuer-Identifikationsnummer)
  • The annual payslip (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung)
  • Your valid bank account details 
  • Receipts and evidence for income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) and extraordinary expenses (außergewöhnlichen Belastungen)

Deduct income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) and more

We advise you to keep important receipts and evidence, even though you do not need to provide them when filing your tax return.

They can help you save money by deducting certain expenses from tax. Possible categories for deductions are income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) and other financial burdens that can count as deductibles.  

Find more information here: 

What to keep in mind during the 2020 tax return?

The COVID-19 pandemic changed taxes for 2020 and for the following years drastically, with also having grand implications for tax regulations. Apart from that, other new transformations have been conducted by the tax office in Germany.

Therefore, filers should be aware of the tax changes and file their taxes accordingly. Mostly, employed people, families and people with low income benefit from these.  

Find here some examples:

Child benefit and child allowance have increased

The child allowance (Kinderfreibetrag) has increased to EUR 2,730 for each parent and the care allowance rose to EUR 1,464. Combined, this makes an allowance of EUR 4,194 (or EUR 8,388 for couples who file together) in 2020.

Also, there is a child bonus (Kinderbonus) of EUR 200 in 2020, in 2021 it’s EUR 150. 


In the table you’ll see which values apply for the child benefit in the tax year 2020: 


Child benefit
(in 2020)
Child benefit
(2021 onwards)
First child
EUR 204
EUR 219
Second child
EUR 204
EUR 219
Third child
EUR 210
EUR 225
Every further child
EUR 235
EUR 250

The basic tax-free allowance (Grundfreibetrag) has been increased

The basic allowance is the part of your income on which you won’t have to pay taxes. In the table you can see how large this part is and how it’s evolved.

Basic allowance
EUR 9,408
EUR 9,744

Introduction of a fixed deduction for home office

Many employees don’t go to their workplace anymore. As a result, the commuting allowance (Pendlerpauschale/Entfernungspauschale) is no longer applicable as a tax-deductible item.

That’s why there is a new fixed deduction: Employees who don’t have a dedicated work station in their flat or house can still deduct certain costs. This can come in handy when you work from your kitchen table or your supposedly private work desk. In this case, you can deduct EUR 5 for a maximum of 120 days per year, allowing a maximum accumulated deduction of EUR 600. 

Find more information on this in our article Study & Home Office: What Can I Deduct from Tax?

Even more changes to tax regulations

You will find more changes to the tax system for 2020 in our article. Please note that this article is in German.

Why Taxfix?

Average refunds of €1,072

Get back your overpaid taxes! It’s hard-earned money that is rightfully yours — invest or spend it on anything you’ve been saving up for.

In less than half an hour

Don’t spend so much time on your tax return, but more time on things that matter — not to mention, you won’t waste time worrying about tax errors ever again.

4.6 out of 5 stars

Over 50,000 positive reviews — that speaks volumes about satisfied Taxfix users.

How do I file my 2020 tax return?

You have several options to. The official programme introduced by the German tax legislation is called ELSTER. Individuals and companies can use the online platform ElsterOnline to create, edit and transfer their tax declaration to the tax office by filling out digital forms. 

Nice to know: The software "Elsterformular" worked only until the tax year of 2019. Therefore, users have to switch to ElsterOnline or find an alternative.

Voluntary filing for 2020: Which software should I choose?

A tax software enables you to create and transfer your tax return to the tax office. This may sound like a new programme you have to download or install onto your computer, but that’s not always the case. 

The software also includes browser-based tools that are independent of your OS. It doesn’t matter if you use Windows, Mac, Linux or whatever, you just open your internet browser and start to file. 


One such programme is Taxfix. You complete your electronic tax return from your computer—something a lot of people prefer over mountains of paperwork. When you file taxes from one place, it’s easier to have an overview of everything you need for your tax return and stay streamlined.


Another advantage of Taxfix is the plausibility check which checks whether your entered data is ‘plausible’ or likely correct. This makes Taxfix an intuitive user-oriented app. Taxfix also synchronises your data across the browser and the Taxfix app to keep things updated at all times. By the way: The Taxfix app also works stand-alone.

Tax return 2020 via app

The Taxfix tax-app lets you file as easily as on desktop. As opposed to ELSTER, you don’t fill out complex forms that usually require a certain level of tax knowledge. Instead, you answer easily comprehensible questions in the inquiry-response process. These lead you through your tax case and don’t miss any relvant topics. 

The app enables you to file your taxes from anywhere—be it the subway or your couch. 

By that, filing isn’t complex anymore but is meant to be intuitive and even spark joy.

This is how it works

Steuererklärung-App von Taxfix

Taxfix is the ideal solution for voluntary tax returns

In terms of the questions and overall compilation, there is no difference between the browser-based version of Taxfix and the Taxfix app in the Play Store or App Store.

Both platforms provide you the same ease of use and calculate your expected refund. The tax return calculation is free with Taxfix. You will see right away how much youcan expect to get back from the tax office.

It takes you less than half an hour to complete your tax return and, if you so choose,  your completed return is transferred to your tax office via a secure ELSTER interface. You also won’t have to wait longer for your refund than you would if you used the ElsterOnline solution.

These benefits make Taxfix the most popular mobile tax app in Germany. 

Start now and discover your expected refund through our app or the browser-based version. Pay only if you want to transfer your tax return to the tax office. 

Die Taxfix-Gründer Mathis Büchi und Lino Teuteberg sitzend in einem hellen Raum mit Fenster im Hintergrund

About Taxfix

Lino Teuteberg and Mathis Büchi founded the fintech startup Taxfix in 2016. Taxfix helps hundreds of thousands of people file their annual tax returns quickly, correctly, and without stress. Experienced tax experts, lawyers, and developers collaborate at Taxfix to demystify taxes and create an intuitive tax-filing app. The goal: simplify tax returns to make refunds accessible to all taxpayers.