Peter Scheller
Berater für Wirtschaftsprüfer, Rechtsanwälte, Steuer- und Unternehmensberater

„Wenn es knifflig wird.“

Expatriates: 10 tax issues to be considered in Germany

von Peter Scheller

Expatriates: 10 tax issues to be considered in Germany

Tax systems are different in every country. Therefore expatriates working abroad face special challenges. German tax regulations are different to regulations in other countries. Individuals who are working and living in or considering re-locating to Germany should pay attention to 10 important topics.

No. 1: Tax rates

Germany has the reputation of being a high tax jurisdiction. This is the case for individuals with high income.  The maximum income tax rate is 45% plus solidarity surplus charge of 5.5% on income tax. Therefore the combined maximum rate is 47.5%.

The tax burden on lower or average income is endurable. In addition German tax law is less strict concerning the deduction of income related expenses compared to most neighbouring countries. And it provides a wide range of personal allowances and a relatively liberal acceptance of private expenses. Foreign individuals are often surprised by the relatively low tax burden on average income.

The real problem is social security liability if applicable. The social security contributions are one of the highest in Europe. Individuals coming to Germany should always seek advice on whether or not they can avoid German social security contributions.

 No. 2: Tax assessment

The majority of Anglo-American countries adopted a self-assessment regime for income taxation. US- or British citizens for instance have to file their income tax return and to calculate their tax burden. On this basis the income tax has to payed.

In Germany the system is different. The taxpayer also has to file income tax returns. These tax returns are basis for the tax assessment by the fiscal authorities. The final tax amount is calculated by the tax office. Consequently every taxpayer receives a tax assessment note. Please be aware that this ugly looking printout on recycling paper is the most important document you receive from your tax office. If there is a mistake in the tax calculation or your legal opinion varies from the one of the tax office your can file a legal protest within a month. If you miss the deadline you lose your legal position. Then the tax office can reject the correction even if they have made the mistake. Therefore it is important to check the tax assessment note within the one month time frame. If you have a German tax adviser you should send the note to him as soon as you receive it.

 No. 3: Work related expenses

Employees are entitled to a lump-sum deduction for work related expenses not exceed Euro 1.000 p.a. If expenses exceed this amount the proven expenses are deductible. There is a standardized deduction for commuting between home and work by car of Euro 0.30 per kilometre (one way). Germany’s tax law allows the deduction of most other work-related costs such as travelling costs, contributions to professional associations and unions, necessary expenses for two households, depreciations on IT and other assets used for working purposes etc. A special limitation exists for the expenses for the taxpayer’s home office.

More about issues to be considered if working in Germany see here.

No. 4: Relocation expenses

Very interesting for expatriates moving to Germany or back to their home countries is the possibility of  deducting relocation expenses. Deductible are all removal/transport and travelling costs for the employee and his or her family. Deductible are also expenses for flights to search for a home in Germany. Additional expenses such as compensations for rental contracts, broker fees for procuring flat or home or in connection with childcare can be deducted.

The employer may reimburse those expenses free of tax. However, if the employer does not reimburse all relocation expenses, the employee is entitled to deduct additional costs in his or her German income tax return. In addition there are special lump-sum deductions for international relocations. These deductions are significant.

No. 5: Personal deductions and allowances

Under certain conditions contributions to statutory or private pension schemes, mandatory contributions to health, accidental and liability insurances and to insurances for disability and old age are deductible. This also applies for contributions to foreign insurance companies if their products fulfil certain criteria set by German tax law. Very dangerous in this respect are fund-based pension plans (see next number).

Donations to German and foreign charities and non-profit organisations are also deductible if they fulfil certain obligations. Alimony payments up to Euro 13,805 for a divorced or separated resident spouse is deductible if the spouse agrees to be subject to German income tax with these payments. There are a varity of other allowances and deductions.

No. 6: Fund-based pension plans and trusts

Most expatriates from English speaking countries have pension plans which are fund-based. Tax implications of these plans are often ignored and can lead to disaster. In general contributions to these plans cannot be deducted because the foreign plan do not fulfil certain German legal requirements. If the German employer pays a proportion of the contributions these payments are taxable income. Beside this a far more serious danger lurks around the corner. If the investment funds are non-transparent (which in general they are) a penalising tax regime comes into force. The taxable income will be increased by at least 6% of the last published market price of the calendar year. A higher amount might be applicable under certain circumstances. This taxation of investment funds take place regardless of the fact whether profits or capital are distributed or not. It is also irrelevant whether the fund is profitable or not. This tax regime is designed for Germans who try to avoid German taxation by investing in tax havens and by „accident“ it also hits expatriates with fund-based pension plans.

Obviously this tax implication was not designed to tax fund-based pension plans of expatriates. It is very questionable whether these tax regulation is in line with European freedom rights. Along with a team of experts I am working on a defence strategy. We will forward this issue to German fiscal courts and if necessary to the European Court of Justice.

Even more dangerous is the German tax regime of trusts. This applies for expatriates moving to Germany if they are beneficiary or settlor of a trust. For more information see an article on the website of the IAPA International Association of Professional Advisers.

No. 7: Property service fees

Germany has a very special tax regime for private motivated expenses. Normally they are not tax deductible but expenses connected to private homes are deductible up to certain limits. This applies for services such as housekeeping, chimney sweeping, housemaids, gardening, snow clearing etc. It also applies for certain maintenance and repair work at your residential home. You can deduct these costs even if you are a tenant of a flat. Your landlord or property manager should provide you with a special property expenses statement.

These regulations apply for all properties used for residential purposes regardless of where the property is situated in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Therefore expenses connected to holiday homes can be deducted, One can deduct these expenses for a holiday home on the Costa del Sol if he provides the tax authorities with proper invoices and bank statements associated with the same.

No. 8: Foreign source income

Most expatriates moving to Germany think that their foreign source income is not subject to German income taxation. This is a grave misjudgement. Foreign source income is either taxable in Germany or it effects the progressive German income tax rate. In both cases the income has to be declared in the German income tax return.

The calculation of foreign source income has to follow German legal requirements. This may require a recalculation of foreign source income. This is especially the case for business and rental income (for example recalculations of depreciations or capital allowances).  Foreign income taxes including withholding taxes can often be offset against German income tax if foreign source income is taxed in Germany.

No. 9: Stock options

A special problem arises from employment income related to stock options. Respective benefits will be taxed in Germany under certain conditions. Taxed will be the difference between the value at the time of purchasing the stocks and the value at the time when the options have been granted. For the allocation of taxation rights the time between granting the options and the vesting time (vesting period) is applicable. This means that if somebody worked for an employer in the vesting period in different countries he may have to pay taxes in two or more countries.

Example: The vesting period was 2 years. For one year employee worked in the USA and for the other year he worked in Germany. Half of the benefit will be taxed in the USA and the other half in Germany.

If your employer withheld German income tax on the full benefit you have to declare the tax-free part in your German income tax return in order to reclaim the unjustified tax. In general it is easier if you or your employer apply for an exemption form from the Federal Central Office for Taxes. In this case your employer is not obliged to withhold taxes on the exempt amount.

No. 10: Paperwork

German income tax law requires a lot of information when filing out the income tax return. It also grants various deductions and allowances. In return German tax authorities ask for extensive proof and documentation. It is therefore advisable to keep all documents regardless whether they are of a German or foreign source. Lack of documentation might result in significantly higher taxes and lack of knowledge can prove expensive.

See also: Expatriates – 10 issues to be considered if working in Germany


Income Tax Einkommensteuer
Solidarity Surplus Charge Solidaritätszuschlag
Social Security Sozialversicherung
Income Tax Return Einkommensteuererklärung
Tax Assessment Note Steuerbescheid
Property Service Fees Haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen
Property Expense Statement Hausgeldabrechnung
Relocation Expenses Umzugskosten
Tax Adviser Steuerberater
Federal Central Office for Taxes Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

Author: Peter Scheller – Master of International Taxation – Steuerberater




Kommentar von G. P. Alvord |

We lived in Germany from 2014-May of 2017. From Jan 2- 2017 until May 12, 2017 our date of permanent departure from Germany, we were out of the country for 34 days, leaving 98 calendar days that we were physically in Germany. Fj

We filed and paid Germany income tax each year.

Question: as we were only in Germany 98 days in 2017, do we have to file and pay income tax for 2017. We are getting different answers from different Steurberaters.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

As long as you have a  residence in Germany, you remain in the system:

Germany does not have the 183-days rule like many other countries.

You have to file an income tax return for 2017. Whether you have to pay taxes, is another questions.

Kommentar von Regina M |

I am permanent resident living in Hamburg with a permanent work contract in a company and want to buy shares in a company up to 3% of total. Do I need to do something special with my tax declaration even if I don’t have any earnings on the first year?

Kommentar von Anuj Gupta |

Hello All,
I am an Indian citizen living in Germany since Jan 2011, during all these years i have been actively investing my income (earned and taxed in Germany) in various assets like real estate, life insurances and mutual funds in India.
Now I am considering making Germany as my permanent base, hence would like to bring all my assets like money from various investments like real estate etc from India to Germany.
To do so which all taxes or documentation should i keep in my mind.
Your help will be really appreciated.

Kommentar von Prathyusha chatta |

Hello ,
I am a dependent (on family reunion visa).I am not yet working.My husband pays for my German language learning course and also the travel expenses for it.Are these expenses are claimable on tax ?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Yes, but if you do not have any income and therefore do not pay taxes it is irrelevant.

Kommentar von Kay |

I receive a wage-loss replacement in Canada, but am a permanent resident of Germany, where I don't receive any income, but my husband does.
I paid taxes on this income in Canada for the last 4 years, but I am now considered a non resident.
Do I have to pay taxes on this income in Germany and if so, do I have to pay it back to the year I came to Germany?

Kommentar von Özi |

Residing and Working in Germany and salary taxable in Germany by the employer. Vorsorgewohnung in Austria generates rent income. How to calculate the rent tax and where to pay it?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Without getting into detail:

Rental income to be taxed in Austria.

In Germany tax excempt. However, it has to be declared in the German income tax return since it has an effect on the German income tax rate.

Kommentar von Igor |

My family was in Germany during one month as a turists. When we were going back home we had a law to return taxes. But it is not organized in Dusseldorf airport and i can provide you with all details.

1. To check items for the tax free refund we have to register to the flight at first. It took 20-30 minutes to stay in line to register. We were before chekin started. So we had 2 hours for all.
2. We have to go for checking goods we bought to the officer. We staid in line 30-40 minutes. There were just 2 officers with no time limitation as passagers.
3. We have goods for more then 1500 euro with the price for children 20-40 euro and few items 130-300 euro. So checking every item is about 20 minutes.
4. For the Handy bagagge tax refund i had to go to check in other place with a new line.
5. I needed the time for airport control and for the passport control.

If you use arifmetick which is before university education you can easily understand that it is impossible to return taxes in Dusseldorf airport.

This time i was in tax control when i had just 1 hour to go to the flight so i made a decision not to return taxes just to be on time to flight. I was right because my family run to be on time to the flight. And it was without checking handy bagagge so i am sure this process is not orginized.

You can use airport video to check this process from registration untill boarding and i will give you permission to check it.

I often travel and i know how it has to work. It is not orginized in Dusseldorf airport. We dont steel money we return it by the law.

Please provide me organisation name which is responsible for this process i would like other people are not so sad about their money.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

To use professional advisers is in general quiet expensive. The refund must be substential in order allow an employment of such a person.

Kommentar von emmanuel |

hello i am living in France and i have a job offer in Bremen. my wife and 2 kids will stay in France and she will keep working and tax imposed in France. what will be my tax class in Germany to calculate my net revenue if interesting or not to accept this position. moreover as we pay also taxes in France i wonder what will happen about our both revenues in each country ? in germany will i have to declare my wife french revenue ? in France i know i will have to declare, not taxable but included in calculation of % on my wife tax level. thks

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You really need proper tax advice in Germany in order to avoid a double taxation secnario.

Kommentar von Nadine |

I am a German citizen, worked in Germany and moved to Mongolia (Abmeldung 6.7.2018, then had a holiday and have been a resident in Mongolia from August). Under a special agreement with the Mongolian government, my wages here are tax exempt. I do not pay tax here. How do I declare this in Germany? Do I even need to declare this tax exempt income in Germany. Can Germany tax my income although it has been declared as tax exempt here?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

If you are not tax resident in Germany any more you will not be taxed here. However, you have to declare this income in your German income tax return since t has an influence on your German income tax rate (see

Kommentar von KT |

I am permanently employed outside of Germany (in Asia). I expect to work in Germany for approximately 35 days and to stay in Germany for 45 days (including the weekends) during 2019. Do I need to pay individual income tax in Germany for such a short period?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

It depends on a lot of things such as:

  • Where do you work abroad?
  • Do you have a residence in Germany?
  • Which nationality do you have?
  • What is the type of work you do in Germany?

and so on.

Kommentar von George Yiu |

My wife works in Germany now. I plan to reunion with her in July this year and stay in Germany as resident.
I am now working full time in Hong Kong and will work at home when I move to Germany.
Will my income earned in Hong Kong from Jan 1 to Jun 30 be subject to German tax?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

This needs a proper analysis and far more information. Please send an e-mail.

Kommentar von Anastasia Lavrenko |

Hi there,

I have lived and worked in Germany for 7 years and moved to New Zealand in June 2018 where I've been employed since. I'd like to submit my tax return in Germany for 2018 but I am getting extremely confused on whether I have to and if yes how to report my change of residency and employment status/earnings abroad. It seems that Anlage N-AUS is only for tax-exempt foreign income but what should I do if I payed taxes while working in NZ? Where do I specify that? Thanks in advance!

Antwort von Peter Scheller


Kommentar von Kiran |

I am permanently employed outside of Germany (in Asia). I expect to work in Germany for 30 days (including the weekends) during 2019. Do I need to pay individual income tax in Germany for such a short period?

My stay will be in dusseldorf,
I don't have residence in Germany
Technology Analyst in software engineer

Antwort von Peter Scheller

If you are not resident in Germany and work only for 30 days (business travel) there are no tax implications.

Kommentar von Adriano |

I am a German citizen but I never lived in Germany, only for vacation. Now I’m planning to move to Germany with the family and look for a job there. I have savings in bank abroad, that I will use to maintain family there till I find a job. Do I need to pay taxes over my savings abroad? Or only about the money “repatriate “ to Germany to cover my costs there?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Please have a look at

Kommentar von Rin |

I registered and worked as self-employed in Germany for 6 months during the tax year 2018. Then I moved to Japan for about a year (March 2018 - April 2019) where I worked and payed taxes (not as self-employed). I'm back in Germany, still registered as self-employed, and I don't know which forms I need to fill in. AUS, N-AUS?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

I suppose you need help of a professional tax adviser.

Kommentar von Nor B |

Hello, can i still claim as tax deductible for my overseas (australia) tax return items i already included here in my German tax return? For example “loss of income” from australian rental property?

Kommentar von Michelle |

I am a permanent resident here in Germany and just got recently employed by the Philippine government as an Administrative Assistant in their consulate. My contract states that they will give me my gross income monthly and I will be the one the pay and file for my taxes and social security. How do I go about this?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

We should not discuss this in this forum. Contact me via e-mail.

Kommentar von Ameera maged |

I work in Germany, and my kids lives with me, but my spouse is working outside Germany and do not hold any permit residence in Germany, is his income taxable in Germany?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

His income will only be taxable in Germany if the following applies:

He has a tax residence in Germany ( and/or he works in Germany.

Kommentar von Mo ElEI |

I am working in Saudi Arabia. My wife got an offer to work in Germany. Which German Tax category she will get?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

This depends on a lot of different issues (e.g. residence).

If you are not resident in Germany but your wife she will be tax classI.


Kommentar von Venkat |

I am deputed in Germany for long term, If I send money to my home country for my family maintenance Father & Mother livelihood. Is this exempted in Germany Income Tax for Tax year 2019?

Antwort von Administrator

You need to ask an expirienced tax adviser.

Kommentar von Rajsekhar Thejomurtula |

I and my wife moved to Germany from India in 2015. I have a permanent contract in Germany whereas my wife works from home as a freelancer for a company in India. Her income is in Rupees and it is taxed by the Indian goverment. I declared her income and with that her salary was added to mine and was taxed. However this is dual taxation, which shouldnt be happening. When i approached the Finanzamt here they say she needs to pay tax in Germany as she lives here, but i dont understand why. We dont claim any jobless benefits and her contract and salary are all from India. Is she really bound to pay tax here? Additionally, since we declared her income, the medical insurance moved her from a family one (which was under mine) to a separate one, because of which we are having to pay extra premium.

I find this totally unfair.

Antwort von Administrator

You need help by a expirienced tax adviser.

Kommentar von Anna King |

Hello, my husband and I are married and he got a job here in DE since Dec 2017. his tax class was “4” because we did not joined him yet, we just joined him here in DE this year 2019 under Family reunion visa and he just changed the tax code to “3”. I just want to know if he can file a return of tax due to change of tax code since 2017? Thank you for your reply.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You can always file a tax return.

Kommentar von PSBQ53 |

Hello, with my wife and 2 sons I arrived in Germany in 2003 living in an apartment headed to me and my wife. In 2005 only me left Germany going in Spain (for full 12 years) working in a stable company and living in an apartment rented only for me.
Taking in consideration the above info, please let me know your opinion to the following questions:
1) few weeks later that I left Germany I received to my address in Spain a letter from a German judge telling me that starting from December/2005 the apartment in Germany was given "only" to my wife until when a final decision (divorce, arrived in december/2007) will be taken. Then, with the Judge's words can I say that starting december/2005 my "permanent house" was the only one in Spain?
2) before to leave germany, in september/2005, I filled ABMELDUNG but never I received its receipt. On my request to the municipality, made in 2006, I received from them an email confirming that I was no more resident in Germany: do you think that email is a valid document as receipt for ABMELDUNG?
Thanks a lot for your answer.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

What do you want to prove and more specific - To whom do you have to prove that you had you residency in Spain and not in Germany.

Kommentar von PSBQ53 |

Hello, about "Kommentar von PSBQ53 | 13.12.2019": I want to say that "to whom" could be german authorities (Finanzamt, Krankenkasse, Municipality, etc) in the case they want to check
- my ABMELDUNG status (one confirmation email coming from municipality is enough to demonstrate that I filled correctly ABMELDUNG? );
- the german judge decision (to give to only to my (ex-)wife the german apartment) is OK to satisfy what says the article 4.2.a of "double taxation agreement spain germany"

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You can ask at the relevant "Einwohnermeldeamt" whether the Abmeldung is recorded there.

You may also prove that you were resident in Spain if you had a "Resendencia" and if you paid your income taxes in Spain.

Kommentar von N.Jones |

I work out of the United States online but live as a single parent in Germany. I pay both state and federal taxes in the United States. Do I have to pay taxes in Germany?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You are of course a German tax resident and have to pay taxes in Germany.

Whether you have to pay taxes here depends very much of you income structute. You should consult a German tax adviser who is expirienced in US-German tax affairs.


Kommentar von Joseph |

Hello, I was stationed in Germany from 2003-2007 with the military. Then got out of the military in 2007, returned to the states for a week and then returned to Germany as a civilian but logistically supported through my employer on base. I've only worked on US bases as a logistically supported civilian with a SOFA card since 2007. I married in 2012 to a German woman and we have 2 daughters together.
We have a home and the girls are in the German school system. My wife works for a German company and pays her taxes. I still work on base and still have my ID card and SOFA card. Recently we received a letter from the Finanzamt stating that I will have to pay taxes here in Germany as well as in the US.
First question, is this legal?
Second question, Does this apply to me even if I fall under the SOFA agreement?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

As long as you are working under the SOFA-status you are only taxable in Germany with German source income.

Kommentar von Andrew Welling |

Hello - if a British national tax resident and working in Germany receives property rental income in the UK, is it correct that under double taxation agreements the UK rental income need only be reported in the UK tax return and does not need to be reported in the German tax return? Thank you.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You have to report the UK income on your German tax return; see also

Kommentar von Somnath |

Hello, I am an Indian National residing in Germany for over 7 years. My tax residency is Germany and I have been paying taxes and filing income tax in Germany. I am considering moving to Germany permanently. I am considering investments in Life Insurances in India. For Life Insurances, it is different in India compared to Germany. In India, you pay premiums for a certain period of time (Say 20 years), and after that period if over (20 years), you get premium paid back along with bonus which is equivalent in amount to premium paid. (example you pay 1000 euro as premium, after 20 years you get 2000 euro back of which 1000 euro is bonus and 1000 euro is the premium paid) The premium amount will be paid from the money after being taxed in Germany. However I am not sure if the bonus received is seen as foreign income by German tax authorities and is it taxable in Germany and at what rate? Thank you.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

This sound like a saving plan. To analyze the tax implications you need to ask a tax consultant.

Kommentar von Diard |

Hi, I am doing my doctoral studies in a Czech Republic public University (yearly cost of the study fees is about 6000 Eur), my tax advisors have included in the tax declaration every year, but it does not seem to be included in the tax return total. Should this be a tax refundable?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

If it is work related.

Kommentar von T cameronion |

Is it correct that the german tax office can tax me or implement the progressionslvorbehalt, on my state retirement pension ( no tax paid in uk) and my private pension which i pay tax on in the uk. If so will this sum be increased if my wife is earning.?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

I think that you need professional advice. It has to be investigated.

Kommentar von Ravi |

Hi There,

I am working in germany with 60K per year gross.
My parents are retired and living in india and they just want to send 3-4K euro monthly.
They want to send to me as a saving, so that later on maybe one day i buy a house and they move here.
Nothing is sure yet but do i have to pay taxes on that money.
They have already filed tax return in india. will that 3-4K which will be around 40K at end of the year are seen as my income.


Antwort von Peter Scheller

This need to be investigated. You need professional advice.

Kommentar von kavya |

Hello, I am an Indian National and worked in Germany (Stuttgart)for 6 months Oct 2018 to March2019 as a Software Engineer. During this period i was staying in a rented house.
I am registered under Tax class1

Since i have lived 3 months in each year. ( 3 months < 183 days ).
Am i eligible to file Tax returns?


Antwort von Peter Scheller

Yes, if you have been employed by a German employer and worked in Germany.

Kommentar von Nihal |

I was on deputation for work in Germany for 7 months in 2019 . I came back in august to India and continue to work in Indian company. I did my deregistration in Germany beginning of August.

I want to file tax in Germany. Do I have to declare my India income which I earned from sep-dec 2019?
My income was taxable in India.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

I have send an e-mail to you

Kommentar von Deepak |


I was moved to Germany from India for a new assignment by my employer in January 2019. During this process, the employer reimbursed all the costs incurred, however the initial 15 days hotel accommodation cost was added as a part of salary and hence a significant amount of it has been deducted as taxes. Am I eligible to claim this under the relocation expenses while filing my tax return?

Thanks in advance.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

This is unlikely but you may be able to deduct certain General allowances (see also

Kommentar von Faisal |


I have couple of queries regarding the speculation tax in Germany.
I purchased a property abroad in Pakistan. For which I transferred the amount from my salaried Germany account to my local bank account in Pakistan.
After 1 years I sold the property and want to bring the money back. I paid local gain tax in Pakistan too.
- Can the local gain tax paid in Pakistan can be justified to avoid speculation tax in Germany (double tax) ?
- Eventhough I got profit in local currency but becuase of higher exchange conversion rate duing the course of time, the money I brought in Germany is less than that what I initially transferred by the time of purchase. In principal, I got a loss because of exchange rate depreciation. Will the speculation tax in germany will be computed based on my profit in local currency or on the loss of €uro which I brought back in germany ?

Thank you very much for the clarification.

Best Regards,

Antwort von Peter Scheller

This needs a proper analysis which of course would result in a fee by a German tax consultant. This is a question of German tax law and the Double Taxation Treaty.

Kommentar von Vishal |

Hello ,

Please help with my query.

I moved to Germany in May 2019 (became a Resident) and working here since then.
Before coming here , I earned my salary in India Jan-April and paid taxes there.

Do I need to declare or pay taxes on my Indian earnings?

Best regards

Antwort von Peter Scheller

The income will be tax free but have to be declared in Germany because it will have an effect on your German income tax rate.

Kommentar von Jackson |


I am reporting a daily commute of 200 km for 200 days of the year but I don't have many receipts for gas or distance. However, my office is registered in one city and my Anmeldung is registered in the other. Will the government ask for receipts, and if they do, what if I cannot provide enough of them? Will I penalized?


Antwort von Peter Scheller

You do not need receipts if it is clear that you commute on a daily basis.

Kommentar von Bikramjit Sharma |

Hello, My tax class was changed from 1 to 3 from May, 2019. But, I started getting salary according to tax class 3 only from November, 2019. The tax office told me that due from May to October would be refunded when I apply for tax return of 2019. My question is do I need to fill up separate form for this? If yes, Please let me know which form?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

It depends which kind of income and expenses you had. There are about 40 different forms. However, you should contact a tax consultant to do your tax return.

Kommentar von Angie |


I am trying to understand if I can deduct the commute to work in my tax return if I have a company car.
I know I have to pay taxes on it (1% + the 0.03/ km) but can I get some back from the normal commuting allowance?


Antwort von Peter Scheller

In General no.


Kommentar von Gabriel |

Dear Peter,

I live, work and pay taxes in Germany. If I start a multi-year part-time online Master's degree from a foreign university (e.g. USA) and keep my full employment salary (no losses), am I allowed to deduct the tuition fees for two or three years in a row? If yes, what would be the maximum limit?


Antwort von Peter Scheller

If the tuition is directly related to you job you will be able to decuct der fees.

Kommentar von Fabio |

I am a German resident living in Berlin and working in the uk. (commuter), my salary is tax free. Should I pay taxes here in Germany? If yes, how can I declare it?
Thank you in advance

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You have to file income tax returns.

You may also be liable to German social security contributions.

I suppose that you need professional support by a German tax adviser.

Kommentar von Juliana De Beni |

I have moved to Germany since march with my 2,5 yo son . My husband works in Switzerland and comes on the weekends
We have one appartment rented in Switzerland and my husband is renting a studio in Switzerland
Questions: Can I be class 2 ?
Is the rental I pay in Germany tax deductible
The rental we receives in CH will be taxable in CH ?
Baby sitting and Kita fees are deductible ?
My pension fund is in Switzerland . Is the mandatory contributions deductable in Germany? How about the additional volunteers one
Thank you

Antwort von Peter Scheller

To answer your questions more information is required. You and your husband should consult a experienced German tax adviser.


Kommentar von Ben |

Dear Peter,

Do you have any links where we can read more about the "penalising tax regime" you describe for pension funds?

I've only been able to find a 2018 law about investment funds getting taxed as you go along instead of all at the end, but that doesn't seem to be what you're talking about, since it doesn't involve a 6% figure, doesn't give rise to taxes in unprofitable years, and postdates your article anyway :)

Many thanks,

Ben :)

Antwort von Peter Scheller

They changed the law in 2018. The new law is less penalising.

Kommentar von Anky |

Dear Peter,
I am resident of Germany since 2006,
In Year 2008 I have purchased a house in India worth 50K, for which I took personal loan from German bank worth 50K €. Now in year 2021 I am about to sell my house which has current worth equal to 100K€. As per Indian Tax system I (as Non resident of India) am liable to pay 20% TAX on my capital gain means 10K€.
I intend to bring 90K€ back to Germany, what are the Tax Implications in Germany applicable for this scenario.

Many Thanks,

Antwort von Peter Scheller

You have to check the respective provisions of the Double Taxation Convention India/Germany. Probably the gain is tax-free in Germany but has an effect on your German income tax rate.

Kommentar von Mahesh Babu |

Hi i am a indian national living in germany in blue card.
- i am getting divorce from my wife and need to pay 20000 euro as one time settlement for getting divorce to my wife in India.
can i deduct anything in my tax or i can save any tax for this 20000 euros

Antwort von Peter Scheller

To answer this questions some investigation has to be done which requires time.

Kommentar von Juliano |

Dear Peter,
Thank you for your time.
I worked abroad until nov/2020. I moved to Germany in January 2021.
When my working contract was terminated in 2020 I requested the total withdrawn of a savings plan, there was a shared payment scheme between the employee and the employer, the request was made in nov/2020, no further payments were done, but the money was transferred only in jan/2021 when I was already angemeldet in Germany.
Should I declare it in my 2021 tax return in Germany or it falls into 2020 tax return when I was not a resident?
Thank you

Antwort von Peter Scheller

What you have to declare in Germany requires a good analysis by an experienced tax adviser.

Kommentar von Inger R. |

Dear Peter,

I am a Danish citizen (but have been living abroad working with the UN for the past many years) and since September 2020, a registered resident in Germany.

I am about to start a 72 day home-based consultancy with a UN agency in Rome. Thus my UN employer is outside of Germany but I will work from Germany.

Are UN employees (consultants) tax exempt in Germany (in Denmark and most other countries UN employees – including consultants, are tax exempt) if the UN agency is in Italy?

Many thanks in advance!!

Antwort von Peter Scheller

The answer needs some research work.

Kommentar von Rafael J. |

Hallo Herr Scheller. Ich bin deutscher und US-Amerikanischer Staatsangehöriger. Ich habe viele Jahre in den USA gelebt und bin seit 1.1.2020 wieder in Deutschland wohnhaft. Bin also ganz normal steuerpflichtig in Deutschland, muss aber ab jetzt jedes Jahr einen income tax return für die IRS in den USA machen. Ich erhalte eine Hinterbliebenenrente (meine verstorbene Frau war dort angestellt) von einer öffentlichen Universität in Kalifornien. Muss ich diese komplett hier in D versteuern, oder nur diese Rente in den USA und dann dann den Progressionsvorbehalt für die deutsche Steuer anwenden, da es aus öffentlichen Mitteln stammt? Es ist keine Social Security Hinterbliebenenrente.
Vielen Dank im voraus.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Die Rente ist wahrscheinlich in Deutschland zu besteuern. Wie eine Doppelbesteuerung verhindert wird, wäre zu prüfen. Genauso, wie die Besteuerung in Deutschland tatsächlich besteuert wird.

Kommentar von Robert Sheely |

Good morning Herr Scheller,
I retired in 2018 as a US Government employee here in Germany. My Wife contacted our local tax office and she was told that as long as my income was taxed in the US, I had no German tax liability, therefore I have not filed any German tax returns. I have my pension from the US Federal Government and a VA Disability monthly compensation payment. I also take money from a US Mutual Fund on a yearly basis. I have looked at the US/German tax treaty but it's very confusing. What income do I have to specifically have to pay taxes on and is it difficult to work with the German Tax Office to fix this situation?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

The payments of the governmental plan shall only be taxed in the US.

The taxation of mutual funds is highly complicated in German tax law (and in regard to the double taxation treaty). It has to be analysed in more detail to find the right tax consequences.

Kommentar von Joey Nice |

If I was granted stock options (2019-2020) from a foreign company while working as a consultant in Germany, if I exercise them only once I have moved to another country and I am not a German Tax resident, do I need to pay taxes in Germany even if I am gone for more than 2 years?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

That has to be analysed. See also

Kommentar von Sigrid Junker |

Dual citizen. At present, I am withdrawing 20,000$/year from tax-deferred savings (401k etc) as that makes me liable only for federal tax, which is the same as I would owe for any withdrawals once I no longer live in the US. Where would I find help analyzing potential German (and/or French) tax liability for withdrawals from 401k and similar accounts as well as ROTH accounts after return to Europe from living in the US for decades?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Send me an e-mail and we will analyse your tax situation when relocation to Germany.

Kommentar von Nadia |

Dear Herr Scheller,
I work for the United Nations in Bonn, and my UN income is tax-exempt in Germany (In accordance with Article 14, 1(b) of the “Agreement among the United Nations and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”). My husband, meanwhile, works for a German organization. Can he file his taxes under class 3 (since my German income is technically 0)?
Many thanks in advance!

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Yes, he is able to choose tax class III. However, you have to file a German income tax return at the end of the year.

Kommentar von Sarah |


I am an American married to an Italian living in Germany. I have savings in America from a home i sold there years ago. I hope to bring that money over to my husbands German bank account to purchase a home for our family. Will i be taxed on this even though i have already paid taxes on the money when i sold the home in America?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

If you were not tax resident in germany in the moment of selling the house there are no tax implications.

However, did your declare income from capital investment (dividends, interests, capital gains) in years where you were tax resident in Germany? Foreign capital income is taxable in Germany if you are tax resident there.

Kommentar von AL |

Dear Peter,

I moved to Germany in September last year for my current job. I will file a tax return as I have the German income for three months. However I wonder if I should report my income from my employment out of Germany from January to September? It seems that as I'm not a tax resident I only need to pay for the German tax, and I have already paid tax for my foreign income in the respective country.


Antwort von Peter Scheller

You have to report it because it has an effect on your German income tax rate (see also

Kommentar von Patterson |

Hello, I moved from Dubai (UAE) to Germany last month for work. I have some savings in Dubai and I would like to transfer t Germany after I have a bank account. May I know if this amount will be taxed? Thank you in advance!

Antwort von Peter Scheller

The transfer of money or other financial assets do not trigger any tax. However, income from capital ivestments (dividends, interests, capital gains) will be taxed as long as you are tax resident in Germany.

Kommentar von raj daniel |

Guten Tag,

bin deutscher staatsbürger und werde nächstes jahr wahrscheinlich eine wohnung in indien als geschenk von meinem bruder erhalten (weil es so von unseren eltern damals erwünscht war).

Muss ich in DE dieses geschenk angeben?
Fallen Steuern an?
Gibt es eine automatische Meldewesen wo dieses Geschenk nach der Übertragung beim Grundbuchamt (in Indien) nach DE gemelden wird, von den Behörden in Indien?

Danke und VG

Antwort von Peter Scheller

Die Schenkung ist dem zuständigen Finanzamt zu melden. Ob Steuern anfallen, hängt vor allen von der Höhe der Schenkung ab. Ein automatisches Meldewesen gibt es nach meiner Erkenntnis nicht.

Kommentar von Aimable |

My wife got a job in Germany in March this year and I moved with her in Germany. From January next year, an Italian company is proposing to give me a Job whereby I will work most of the time out side Germany all over the world depending on where they need me. Do I need to pay the taxes in Germany? My residence is in Germany. If so what type of Taxes should I pay?

Antwort von Peter Scheller

If your employer has no establishment in Germany there are the following issues to be considered:

- You have to declare your salaries in your German income tax return

- Your employer will have to appoint a representative to fulfil its social security obligations in Germany (if you are not in Germany on an assignment contract in Germany)

Without the help of a tax adviser it will be difficult to fulfil all your and your employer's obligations in Germany.

Kommentar von Alex |

I am planning to leave Germany in February 2023, therefore will need to submit tax declarations for both 2022(i think my employer will give me Lohnsteuerbescheinigung 2022 in January 2023) and 2023(i think employer will give Lohnsteuerbescheinigung in January 2024). But after Abmeldung i will not have German address anymore. How can i make tax declaration in this case. I was informed that Bescheid is sending only to German addresses.
Is it possible to hire a tax consultant after leaving Germany and he will get the Bescheids from Finanzamt for the years 2022, 2023 and after inform me?
Second question: Since i was planned to leave Germany i opened bank account in my home country and transferred money from German bank account to my new bank account. The new bank account is a simple current account(girokonto) without interest. So basically it means putting money from one pocket yo another. But according to CRS/FATCA foreign bank accounts need to be declared. Now, I am wondering if it applicable also for girokontos?
Thank You very much in advance !

Antwort von Administrator

(1) You can appoint a German tax adviser and the tax assessment note will be send to him (Proxy required)

(2) This is US law and you have to consult a US tax specialist. However, I think you have to report this.

Kommentar von Lisa M. |

Thanks for the breakdown! Coming from Ireland, the German tax system can be overwhelming, so it's great to easily find resources like yours to help me better understand what I'm entitled to.

However, my issue is that I wouldn't like to track all of this myself. I recently came across Richmond Blackwood ( who offer personal expense management and tax optimization services for high-earners like myself. Have you spoken to them by any chance? I'm intrigued and plan to reach out to them soon to see if they can help me make the most of my finances in Germany.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

No, I did not speak to them. Please let me know your expirience you may have with them in the future.

Kommentar von Rajiv Chaudhary |

I am an Indian working and living in Dubai and was on business trip to Germany in 2022 for total of 26 days. I did not get paid any money in Germany. My travel and stay was covered by my employer in Dubai. Do I have any tax liability in Germany.

Antwort von Peter Scheller

If you were here only on a short business trip and have not be paid by a German company you are not tax liable in Germany.

Kommentar von Claudia do Valle |

Dear Herr Scheller,
I work for the United Nations in Bonn, and my UN income is tax-exempt in Germany, and as far as I know I do not have a German Tax Identification Number. I opened an account in e-toro (on-line investment platform) to invest some money and e-toro is asking me about my German Tax Identification Number, saying that they need to report information on financial accounts to comply with the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

However, I do not have this tax identification number. Do I need to have this number to invest money in an online platform which account is not based in Germany? . In addition, I would like to know in case I have profit whether I have to report this financial operation and pay tax in Germany related to the investments. Thank a lot

Antwort von Administrator

I am a tax adviser and therefore I am not able to advise you on civil law.

The following issues have to be clarified:

- Did you register with the "Einwohnermeldeamt"?

- If so, you should have got a tax identification number.

- If you don't have to have a tax identification number (which has to be investigated) you should inform the platform accordingly. However, these platforms in general have a "individual approach".

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