How do I file an appeal against the tax notice? (Einspruch gegen Steuerbescheid einlegen)

If you've done everything correctly, then you can usually look forward to a nice refund. The waiting time until you receive your tax notification (Steuerbescheid) can be used for a nice, long holiday or some shopping therapy. And why not indeed? Money will be coming in soon. And then, all of a sudden, it happens... The tax office (Finanzamt) tells you that your tax refund (Steuererstattung) will be much lower than you expected. In this case, the only thing that comes into question for many people is to file an appeal (Einspruch).

Reasons for an appeal (Einspruch)

Reasons for an appeal (Einspruch) can vary. It's common knowledge that the taxpayer usually feel at a disadvantage. However, sometimes it's just a matter of forgetting to enter essential information.

These are the following reasons for an appeal:

• Expenses were not stated in the tax return (Werbungskosten) • Costs for household-related services were not recognized (haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen) • The tax office has miscalculated • Special expenses were not included (Sonderausgaben) • Taxpayer-friendly judgments and administrative instructions were disregarded

Note: You can find out how the tax office (Finanzamt) came up with their calculation in the "Erläuterung zur Festsetzung". This can be found in the tax office's calculation. If the text has not been clearly formulated, a call to your respective tax office may be worthwhile.

Appeal (Einspruch) information worth knowing about

You have one month to file an appeal (Einspruch) after receiving your tax assessment notice (Steuerbescheid). First of all, an informal letter that shows the tax office (Finanzamt), even without mentioning any reasons, that an appeal has been made is sufficient. This letter can also be withdrawn later without fear of consequences.

Tip: If only a specific part of the tax bill is to be rechecked, it is advisable to apply for a simple change (Änderungsantrag).

Legal Information

Appeals (Einsprüche) must always be made in writing. This is regulated by Paragraph 357 sec. 1 AO (Abgabenordnung). It must be possible to deduce who lodges an appeal (Einspruch) from the letter. The name and address must be written down for this. Actually, the document does not even have to be signed.

Whether the objection is sent by e-mail, fax or post is not important. Tax o allow transmission by electronic means if the recipient expressly offers this option. Emails should be avoided in order to be able to prove the dispatch date in an emergency. It is best to send an appeal by mail or fax.

What happens after the appeal (Einspruch)?

After the tax office (Finanzamt) has received the appeal (Einspruch), the entire tax declaration (Steuererklärung) is re-examined. The appeal naturally needs to be admissible. Even appeals that are unfounded can be rejected.

The tax office can reach the following decisions:

  • Abhilfe: the applicant's reason for appeal has been accepted
  • Teilabhilfe: justification is only partially accepted
  • Einspruchsentscheidung: appeal rejected

If the appeal is rejected, the only option is to go to tax court (Finanzgericht) and file a lawsuit.

Sample notice of appeal (Beispiel Einspruch)

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