How to get back some of your tax?
Here is some basic information on how to complete your tax report - kindly provided by Steve Boudreault. Status is June 2009 (updated with some additional information by Christine November 2009).
Steve says the following:
This only applies to PhD students with a work contract. You might have the impression that this look like a "cooking recipe", and that there are things that you don't need to do (for instance, to give the "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung"), but this is how I did it and it always worked out.
I will first start with 2 frequently asked questions :
Can I get some money back ?
It will depend on the time you started a contract. Indeed, the fiscal year in Germany starts and ends the 1st of January (I think) and it will depend on how much money you get in a given fiscal year. Example : I started my contract on 1st of July, so I was paid for 6 months. The trick is the following : there is a threshold (10000 +/- 2000 euros, I don't know) in a fiscal year in which if your income is lower then that, then *all* taxes you have paid are given back to you. In my case, I got all my money back for the fiscal year 2005, but not for 2006 and 2007. Of course, that sucks for people starting their contract on January, but that's the way it is.
Should I *really* do the tax report ?
This depends on each cases (and maybe also the point above). It could also depend on the agreement between your state and Germany (maybe?). Finally, if you have a stipend, you don't need to it. (Unless you already had a tax report done before?)
As you can see, for 2 questions, there is a lot of "case-by-case" details (and legal stuff) so to put everything together for a webpage is quite challenging for me alone. Therefore, if YOU can bring more informations, please do so.
How do I get the forms?
Where you can get the forms also depends on the way you want to submit them in the end. You can get the paper forms at the Finanzamt and probably at the Buergeramt, or you can just go to the webpage of the Finanzamt (http://www.fa-baden-wuerttemberg.de/servlet/PB/menu/1200580/index.html?ROOT=1200591) to find the online versions. You can fill them out on the computer and print them afterwards, or you print them and fill them out by hand. You can't send these forms online! But, there is another possibility to fill the forms, which is to use the Elster program, also provided on this webpage for free. When you use this you can't print the forms to submit them (only for your documents), they can only be submitted online!
The tax reports have to be submitted to (as of 12th of November 2009):
You should have the following documents for the year 200X:
- a covering letter - the form "ESt 1 A 200X" (the tax report itself) - the form "Anlage N 200X" (things you needed to pay for your work, see details below) - "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 200X" - any receipts relevant for "Anlage N 200X"
As I pointed out above, some could argue that some documents are not needed, and some could need other documents (e.g., if you have child?), but then just add the informations here on the WiKi. Also, if someone sees a mistake in this "to do list" please make the modification.
At the end, I will give you some information on what happen with your contribution to retirement and social security. This will also depend on where you come from. Therefore, I wrote the relevant information for Canadians and *YOU* could add information on the country where *YOU* come from.
Have fun !!!
======== THE TAX REPORT =======================
(1) a covering letter There is no need to do this, but I think it is normal (and polite) to give a cover letter when you send forms. I wrote the covering letter in English.
(2) the form "ESt 1 A 200X" (the tax report itself) Now the fun starts. If you like to get the "ESt 1 A 2008" form, do " https://www.formulare-bfinv.de/printout/034037_08.pdf"
The web page may change from year to year. Then, you just need to look for the Einkommensteuererklaerung 2008 (or 2009 next year).
- item 1 : put an "X" in "Einkommensteuererklaerung". - item 3 : you can put a "Steuernummer" when you will do you 2nd (and others) tax report because this is given in the reply from the "Finanzamt Heidelberg" - item 5 : "an das Finanzamt" put <<69123 Heidelberg NR.2832 >> - item 8 to 12 : your name, address, religion, ... - item 20 and 21 : information about your bank account - item 23 and 26 : again your name and address - item 27 : date and signature !
PAGE 2 [this will depend on what you put in the tax report]
- put the "Steuernummer" in the top (if you have already done a tax report) - item 34 : put an "X" to "Anlage N" if you will submit this form - item 35 : put an "X" to <> - item 38 : put an "X" to <> - i didn't put anything else on this page
PAGE 3 [again, this will depend on what you put in the tax report]
- put the "Steuernummer" in the top (if you have already done a tax report) - item 61 : give in "30" the amount of money that is given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" in item 23 - item 65 : give in "47" the amount of money that is given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" in item 22 - item 69 : give in "53" the amount of money that is given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" in item 25 - I didn't put anything else on this page
- put the "Steuernummer" in the top (if you have already done a tax report) - I didn't put anything else on this page
That's it. It always worked fine for me and and also for other people, hopefully it should work fine for you as well.
(3) "Anlage N 2008" (things you needed to pay for your work)
Go get the "Anlage N 2008" form : "Anlage N 2008" : https://www.formulare-bfinv.de/printout/034027_08.pdf"
As for the form the form "ESt 1 A 2008", the web page may change from year to year. Then you just need to look for Einkommensteuererklaerung 2008 (or 2009 next year).
As far as I understood, this form is to reimburse the money your paid for your work (e.g., fuel for the car, semester ticket, etc.). I was informed that someone also put down a new laptop they bought. Of course, if your buy a laptop for work, and they find out that it's filled with games, movies, porn, and music, then it's your problem. You will not get all this money back, but it will lower your "threshold" I was talking about in <> (see above).
- item 1 and 2 : your name - item 3 : put the "Steuernummer" in the top (if you have already done a tax report) - idem 4 : this is the "eTIN" given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" - item 6 : write in "110" the amount of money that is given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" in item 3 - item 7 : write in "140" the amount of money that is given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" in item 4 - item 8 : write in "150" the amount of money that is given in your "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008" in item 5
PAGE 2 [here you put the money you needed to spend in order to be able to work]
- put the "Steuernummer" in the top (if you have already done a tax report) and your name - item 38 : address of your work - item 42 : distance from your home to work - item 46 : for my work, I used two "semester karte" (summer semester 2008 and winter semester 2008/2009), so 216,- euros - item 52 : AN EXAMPLE ===> to get the "semester karte", I need to be registered at the University, so I put "University registration" and 197,- euros - I didn't put anything else on this page
PAGE 3 [I don't know all the details for this page. Please double check with an Germany speaker.]
- put the "Steuernummer" in the top (if you have already done a tax report) and your name - I didn't put anything else on this page
(4) "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung fuer 2008"
That is the sheet of paper you get from the institute after every year listing your total income, taxes you paid etc. As pointed above, some could argue that the "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung" is not needed here. However, I always submit a copy and it always worked fine for me.
(5) "any receipts relevant for Anlage N 2008"
Here I added the receipts relevant for the tax report (for me, university registration receipt and "semester karte" receipt). Again, some people informed me that it is not needed. I just decided to send it, so then they have everything.
It is possible to put some travelcosts here (only the business ones!). In principle it works like this: We get a certain per diem by the institute which is (depending on the country) in some cases lower than what the state wants you to get. What you can actually put on the form seems to be a bit unclear (even to the people at Finanzamt!). If somebody KNOWS, please put it here (best with a description how to read the information out of the travel reimbursement sheet form the institute).
Consider that there is a fixed amount of mone (currently 920 Euro) assumed as your Werbungskosten (money you had to spend in some way related to your work). As I understand it everything to fill into the form under this point has to sum up to more than this to actually make a difference (might save some effort).
======== CONTRIBUTION TO RETIREMENT ============== ======== AND SOCIAL SECURITY ======================
INFORMATION FOR GERMANS ...
INFORMATION FOR CANADIANS What happen to my social security / unemployment money ? You can get money if you don't have a job and if you don't have a source of income within 12 months after the end of your last contract. (This also apply for everyone.) But can I get it back ? I'm a Canadian and I'm going back to Cananda ? No, you will not get it back otherwise. And what about my contribution to retirement ? You can get it back ... when you will be 67 years old.