Monday 8 September 2014

Fighting the Finanzamt (the German IRS)

Kindergarten, child, Berlin, rentenversicherung, erste hilfe

There is one rule in the German tax regulation that I find utterly stupid and I hope that they one day will remove such nonsense. The rule is that if you go for a job interview somewhere (and this can be to any country so no restrictions to Germany only) then part of the cost for the trip as well as your stay is deductible from your taxes. Utterly stupid!

The benefit for the German government is that few people seem to know this and therefore also do not take advantage of it. I previously did not know about it but now I do.

So these days I always make sure to book a job interview meeting so that I am able to deduct the trip from my taxes. Sure it does not always work out to get a meeting but many times it does and then I also deduct that trip from my taxes.

This then also leads to, just like the title says, fighting against the Finanzamt. The reason for that is of course that they do not want you to deduct those travelling expenses even thought it is clearly written in the law. Instead of doing things properly, which would be to change the stupid law, they try to push the problem onto the tax payers that have had job interviews by refusing to accept the costs and by asking for more and more specific details.

All of this they do over a phone calls so that there is no written proof of exactly what was refused and for what reason. Afterwards they do send a paper and the paper that one gets back from the German finanzamt is a disgrace to say the least. There are no explanations for what have been accepted and what have not been accepted and there is only a lump sum dropping out from their calculation. With the words that if one does not accept it then one can go against it. I always wonder how can I go against it when I do not even know what they refused. Should one just send a general "I refuse" letter back to them?

I have sometimes tried to re-calculate what they accepted but I have found it to be difficult to say the least and have therefore stopped even to try to figure it out.

My new strategy is therefore instead to refuse to accept any phone calls from them and I will demand everything in written form. These days I also write in my letters to them that each item they refuse to accept they specifically, in written form, must inform me about and for which reason it was refused. Future will tell if it works or not...

Tax laws must be simple. The more complicated you make the regulations the bigger the chance to find loopholes. In most countries today I think everyone one have benefitted by just burning the tax laws and write a new one. Every income you receive you pay x% in taxes with no exceptions existing.



Anonymous said...


I am a Swedish Citizen that own a german stock (Talanx) the double-taxation law states that Germany can tax me 15%.. However they taxed me 27%. I´ve been in Contact with the Swedish Skattemyndighet and they told me that i have to Contact the germans to get my Money back. Could you Point me in the right direction to which site i should visit? Or perhaps even better the specific form i need to fill out ;)

I enjoy your blog btw!

Ps. I dont know why some Words are capitalized.. The entry-form did that on its own.

Fredrik von Oberhausen said...

Hi there,

I just spent the last hour trying to find out how to get the taxes back from dividends here in Germany.

Please go to this page to reclaim taxes from dividends in Germany.

The form looks very German so mark my word when I say it will be no fun to fill it out which makes it even more important to fill it out!

If you look around a little bit more on that page you can maybe find also other useful information for international investors with investments in Germany.

I hope it will work out for you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

The form does indeed suck the very Life out of ones soul! I´ll have a fun evening!

Thank you once again!

Fredrik von Oberhausen said...

You are welcome and sorry about the evening!