Tax Return Filing Deadlines
If you are required to file your annual tax return in Germany, your Tax Return deadline is 31.07. of the following year. For example, when you submit your tax return for the year 2025, you should do so no later than 31.07.2026. In this article, you will find who is and who is not obliged to submit an income tax return.
If your tax advisor will submit your annual tax return, the submission deadline is generally extended to the last day of February of the year after next. However, even in such a situation, your local tax office may in certain cases request the income tax return earlier, but not before the end of 31.07. of the following year.
The tax return deadline in Germany is the same for Germans, expats, and foreigners.
Deadlines for 2021, 2022 and 2023 Due to the Corona Pandemic
Taxpayers who submit their income tax return without a tax advisor, have been extended the deadline for submitting the return for the accounting year 2021 by three months, for the accounting year 2022 by two months, and for the accounting year 2023 by one month.
Those who were required to file a tax return for the year 2021 had three more months to do so. The tax return had to be filed by 31.10.2022 when you do that by yourself. If you have a tax advisor who will do it, the deadline for submission is extended to 31.08. 2023.
You also have more time to file your tax return for 2022. You must submit your tax return by 02.10.2023. If you have arranged a tax advisor, the deadline is extended to 31.07.2024.
|Tax Year||Deadline – Yourself||Deadline – Tax Advisor|
* The deadline is Saturday, 30.09.2023. Since it is a weekend, the deadline is extended to Monday, 02.10. 2023
You Need a Tax Return Submission Deadline Extension
Only in exceptional cases is it possible to try to get more time to submit the tax return. So, if you think that you will not be able to submit your tax return on time, send a written request to the your local tax office for an extension of the deadline. In that document, it is important to write the reasons for the request to extend the deadline and specify the new deadline in which you will be able to submit the income tax return.
The tax administration is not obliged to grant the extension request of the tax return deadline.
Tax Return Submission Deadline is Missed
If you miss the submission deadline, you must expect sanctions. It is possible that a late payment surcharge, a penalty payment, a tax assessment and/or interest may be imposed.
Who has to File a Tax Return
As an employee in Germany, whether a foreigner, an expat, or a German, you are required to file an income tax return in the following cases:
- Salary tax allowance (Lohnsteuerfreibetrag) – this is a situation where you have been granted a salary tax allowance (e.g. due to high travel expenses or double household); This excludes lump sums for disabled people, survivors, and children’s tax-free allowance (Kinderfreibetrag), and if the total salary earned in 2022 was no more than 13,150 € for a single person or 24,950 € for a couple
- Income without salary tax deduction – you have income, from which no salary tax has been withheld, of more than 410 € per year (e.g. rental income)
- Benefits (Lohnersatzleistungen) – you have received tax-free benefits such as insolvency, unemployment, short-time working, sickness, parental or maternity benefits in excess of 410 € per year
- Individual tax deduction (Einzelveranlagung) for persons in marriage/civil partnership – you must submit a tax return if you live in a marriage/civil partnership and your partner has already submitted his tax return
- Tax groups for marriage/civil partnership – you and your partner have had salary payments and are in tax group combination 3 and 5 or tax group 4 with the factor
- Allowances for children (Freibeträge für Kinder) – when you are not married or divorced parent who wants to split an allowance for the joint child other than 50/50; this also applies to the education allowance and the disability allowance
- Divorce and remarriage – you divorced, but in the same year, you or your ex-partner remarried (it doesn’t matter who); you became a widower, but you got married again in the same year
- Several employers – you have received a salary from several employers at the same time and you belong to the tax class 4
- Change of employer and mark “S” is in the income tax certificate – a situation when you were employed by more than one employer within one year and a letter “S” is entered in your income tax certificate (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung); This means that your new employer has calculated income tax for other payments, such as Christmas bonus, without taking into account the previous salary with the previous employer
- Severance pay (Abfindung) – you have received severance pay, and the employer has withheld tax from the salary according to the “fifth rule” („Fünftel-Regelung“)
- Investment income (Kapitalerträge) – when you had investment income for which the final withholding tax was not calculated
- Carried forward loss or minus from previous years – a situation when you had a tax loss in previous years; for example, for the year 2020, you have a tax loss or minus, so you must submit a tax return for 2021
- Loss carried forward (Verlustvortrag) – you had a tax loss from previous years. If, for example, a remaining loss carry forward was determined in the 2020 tax assessment, then a tax return must be filed for 2021
2. Self-Employed, Agriculture and Forestry
In Germany, if you are self-employed (article 18 EStG), a business owner (article 15 EStG), or you are in agricultural or forestry (article 13, article 13a EStG), you need to pay tax if the total amount of your income exceeds the basic tax-free allowance (Grundfreibetrag). For 2022, this amounts to 10,347 € for a single person and 20,694 € for a married couple or civil partnership when they jointly file a tax return. As mentioned earlier, this is the same whether you are a foreigner, an expat, or a German.
If you are a pensioner in Germany, you are obliged to tax return. But pensioners have deductible expenses. That means if, after deducting expenses, the taxable income is above the basic tax-free allowance, taxes have to be paid.
It is everyone’s responsibility to determine whether they need to file an annual tax return because the government tax office will not do it.
Even if you are not required to file an income tax return, the tax office may ask you to do so. In such a situation, you will receive a letter from the tax office with this request.
Voluntarily File a Tax Return
If you only receive wages from which income tax has already been withheld by your employer, you are generally not required to file an income tax return.
However, you can voluntarily file an income tax return (so-called “Antragsveranlagung”). Filing a voluntary income tax return can be particularly worthwhile,
- if you were in an intermittent employment relationship
- if the amount of your salary varied during the year, and your employer has not yet performed the annual income tax adjustment
- if your tax class or the number of your children changed in your favor during the year, and your employer did not take this into account during the annual adjustment of income tax
- if there are expenses related to your job, special expenses, or extraordinary burdens
- if you had expenses for basic health insurance and/or statutory insurance for long-term care that exceed the minimum flat-rate compensation that your employer takes into account in the income tax deduction process
Until When Can I Voluntarily Submit a Tax Return?
You have four years after the end of the respective year to voluntarily file a tax return (so-called “Festsetzungsfrist”). For example, the tax return for 2021 must be received by the government tax office by 31.12. 2025.
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