How can maintenance payments be deducted from your taxes? (Unterhaltszahlungen)

There are situations in life where people need help. After all, everyone may need help at some point. Long-term care, divorce or children who do not yet earn their own money and have to be supported - there is a variety of situations.

Whatever the case, family members are usually given financial support. Many volunteer and some are legally obliged to do so. This means that sometimes there is no choice but to look after the welfare of a relative.

The best part of the whole thing is that the state shares the burden with you. Maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlungen) are taken into account for tax purposes. Benefits to an ex-partner, one's own child or those in need of care - those who submit this in their tax return (Steuererklärung) will ideally receive a hefty tax refund (Steuererstattung) from the tax office (Finanzamt).

Deduct maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlungen) from your taxes

Everything doesn't always run smoothly in terms of maintenance (Unterhalt). Normally, there have been months of court battles before maintenance is paid for the first time.

Divorced or permanently separated spouses are obliged to pay maintenance to their former partner. If one of them earns more than the other, then the difference must be made up to benefit the low earner.

Possibilities of tax deductibility

In Germany, there are two ways to make paid maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlungen) for tax purposes. On the one hand, expenses can be specified as special expenses (Sonderausgaben) and, on the other hand, costs can be submitted to the tax office as an extraordinary burden (außergewöhnliche Belastung).

Special expenses (Sonderausgaben)

If maintenance payments are specified as special expenses in the tax return, then this is the so-called Realsplitting. Realsplitting follows the tax performance principle (steuerliches Leistungsfähigkeitsprinzip). The maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlung) reduce the efficiency of the maintenance worker and increase the benefits of the maintenance recipient. The tax burden (Steuerlast) is therefore reduced for the maintenance payer.

The only condition: The maintenance recipient must agree to the real splitting This means that this must also be signed on the income tax return. In addition, the maintenance received must be entered under "other income".

Extraordinary burden (Außergewöhnliche Belastungen)

Maintenance recipients do not always accept Realsplitting. In such cases, payments may also be stated as an extraordinary charge (Außergewöhnliche Belastungen). In this situation, the consent of the ex-partner is not necessary. The recipient does not have to pay tax on the services as well.

The only condition here: The maintenance recipient must tell the tax office how much is earned. Only then can the maximum amount of maintenance be determined for the maintenance payer. If the person refuses to disclose the revenue, payments by the debtor may not be taken into account.

Maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlungen) for children

After a divorce, a parent usually has to pay for the child or children. A maximum of € 8,820 can be specified as maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlungen) in the tax return as an extraordinary charge (Außergewöhnliche Belastungen). However, this is only possible if child benefit (Kindergeld) or child allowance (Kinderfreibetrag) is not claimed. However, since this is usually the case, the deduction of the costs is only relevant if it is a full-age child, for which no child benefit is drawn.

If the child is also working and earns more than € 624 a year, the income exceeding this amount will be offset against the maximum of € 8,820. The right to child benefit (Kindergeld) must also exist.

Maintenance payments (Unterhaltszahlungen) for relatives in need of care

Those who pay maintenance (Unterhalt) for immediate family can also claim these expenses for tax purposes. Thus, for example, expenses for home care of parents (Heimunterbringung) is tax deductible.

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