These are the most important flat-rates (Pauschalen in der Steuererklärung)

If you think this article is about flat-rate trips, then you are unfortunately in the wrong place. However - since you’re already here, let’s take this chance to explain flat-rate deductions in German tax law.

It definitely doesn’t hurt to learn a little about this topic. I mean, we don’t want to throw too much money down the tax office’s throat.

This is the reason why we compiled an overview of the most important flat-rates.

WHAT IS A FLAT-RATE DEDUCTION?

Flat-rate deductions are accepted by your respective tax office without proof. A specific part of your income is mandated as tax-free. Expenses that exceed the flat-rate can be deducted as well. However, if your income is below the flat-rate, then this is automatically deducted from your taxable income.

However, there isn’t just one flat-rate in German tax law, many areas are covered. There is a long-term care flat-rate, the advertising flat-rate and much more. Which ones are the most important? You’ll find out now.

PROPORTIONAL TAX ALLOWANCE FOR ELDERLY RETIRED PERSONS

Pensioners that are older than 64 years old can lower their tax burden up to €1,900/year with the so-called proportional tax allowance for elderly retired persons. The actual amount of the flat-rate is dependent on the birth year of the pensioner. The tax office automatically calculates the amount of the proportional tax allowance for elderly retired persons for you.

Note: If you were born after Jan. 1, 1975, you will unfortunately not be able to profit from this.

CHILD ALLOWANCE

Parents can earn €7,356/year without having to pay taxes on this amount. Whether the children are biological or adopted or even if they’re foster children doesn’t play a role in this. The child allowance is meant to guarantee enough money for the upbringing of their charges.

The child allowance should not be confused with child benefits. You can not claim both variations at the same time. Your respective tax office re-checks this every year to see which option is the best for the parents. This process is called the “favorable review.”

LONG-TERM CARE FLAT-RATE

Life isn’t just a bowl of cherries. Many people take care of a family member that cannot complete daily tasks without outside help. The government contributes to this support with a long-term care flat-rate.

Those that require this type of care can profit from up to €924/year. There are naturally some requirements that must be fulfilled:

  • The person requiring long-term care must have a handicap ID with “H” mark or they must have long-term care level 4 and 5
  • The person in question is taken care of in their own home
  • Service is not requested in return for long-term care

SAVERS’ FLAT-RATE

The savers’ flat-rate is especially interesting for those who put a few cents under their mattresses and save. Normally, €801 is tax-free for savers. The savers’ flat-rate is €1,602 for married couples. This flat-rate is automatically guaranteed by the tax office.

MOVING EXPENSES FLAT-RATE

Everyone moves a few times in their country. If the move is due to relocation for a job or for professional reasons, a moving flat-rate can be deducted from your taxes to offset moving expenses. The flat-rate for married couples is €1,528 and €764 for singles since Feb. 2017.

Info: You are not required to provide receipts. The flat-rate can only be claimed in form N, on the second page.

COMMUTER FLAT-RATE

More and more people are covering many kilometers on their way to work. Normally, everyone receives a commuter’s flat-rate of €0.30/kilometer driven. However, those that have an e.g. 18 km drive to work should itemize their commuting costs in the “Advertising costs” section, since the advertising cost flat-rate of €1,000 is quickly exceeded for longer commuting distances.

Important: The flat-rate only applies to a one-way commute, that means not the trip to work and back.

ADVERTISING COST FLAT-RATE

Apropos: The government guarantees employees a €1,000 flat-rate at the end of the year. This is an advertising cost flat-rate. This means that only the remaining annual income can be taxed. Therefore, it is normally advisable to complete an income tax declaration.

ADVERTISING COST FLAT-RATE FOR PENSIONERS

Even pensioners can benefit from an advertising cost flat-rate. However, this is much lower than that for employees. Only €102 is deducted annually for each pensioner.

ACCOMMODATIONS FLAT-RATE

Employees have been able to deduct an accommodations flat-rate since 2014. Those who are on the road for their work for longer than 8 hours have the right to deduct a flat-rate of €12. The €12 flat-rate can be deducted for the departure and arrival days. You can get €24 if you are on the road for work 24 hours or longer. Normally, the employee’s business trip costs are reimbursed directly from their employer.

HANDICAP FLAT-RATE

Normally, people that have a handicap are confronted with much higher costs for day-to-day living than a healthy person. Costs for medication, therapy etc. represents an unacceptable burden for them. Therefore, the government helps and guarantees a handicap flat-rate from €310 to €1,420.

The amount is dependent on the degree of disability. This is determined separately and individually. A medical opinion is required as well. The degree of disability that is assigned is adhered to on the income tax declaration.

STANDARD DEDUCTIONS FOR EXPENSES

Standard deductions for expenses are private costs that you are allowed to deduct from your income in order to save on taxes. This is divided into two groups: in long-term care flat-rate and in “other” special expenses. Contributions for mandatory and private retirement provision, health and long-term care insurance contributions, donations et al. belong in this category. If no information about this is provided, then the government guarantees a flat-rate of €36 for singles and €72 for married couples.

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