Annual Tax Return (Steuererklärung) for Students in Germany
A tax return is possible for all students in Germany, regardless of whether they are foreign or domestic students. You can file a tax return whether you are an international student from France, India, Egypt, or Poland or a domestic German student.
As a student, you can also voluntarily file your tax return retroactively for up to 4 years.
When Students must File a Tax Return
Students are required to file a tax return if:
- they are self-employed or freelance and earn more than the basic tax-free allowance
- they have rental income or capital income that together add up to more than the basic allowance
- they were employed by several employers
Important for Your Tax Return
It is important that you have all the important information and documents ready before you start preparing your first-time tax return (Erste Steuererklärung). These include, among others:
- Your tax ID and tax number (Steuer-ID und Steuernummer)
- Information about your income, e.g. payslips (Lohn- und Gehaltsabrechnungen)
- Information on possible income-related expenses, e.g. invoices for work equipment or travel expenses
- Information on possible special expenses, e.g. donation receipts
- Information on possible extraordinary burdens, e.g. medical expenses
The more accurate and complete the previous information is, the easier it will be for you to prepare your tax return and calculate any refunds or payments. It is therefore advisable to collect all relevant documents thoroughly and store them carefully before you start your tax return.
Keep copies of your tax returns and related documentation for at least 10 years. Then you always have proof of the information in your tax return.
There are different types of tax returns depending on your income, residence, and other factors. If you are not sure which tax return is correct, contact a tax advisor. Check your tax return thoroughly before submitting it. Make sure all information is correct and that you have submitted all relevant documentation.
Details regarding the tax return can be found on the ELSTER website.
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