Tax returns in Germany—what are the deadlines in 2022?
Not sure exactly when you’ll need to submit your tax return? Learn everything you need to know about the 2022 submission deadlines.
4 min read
Every year, tax season returns like clockwork, but knowing whether you need to submit a return, or when you need to submit it depends on a number of factors. We know it’s not always easy to keep track of everything when it comes to taxes. That’s why we’re breaking down everything you need to know about your tax return submission deadlines for 2022.
Voluntary tax returns—is the deadline fast approaching?
Unlike those who are self-employed, employees don’t usually have to submit a tax return in Germany. But you can submit one on a voluntary basis, for example if you deduct expenses and want to get part of your income tax back.
Luckily, you don’t have to stress about submitting your voluntary tax return right away. You have four years until it’s really due. So for this calendar year, the deadline is December 31, 2025.
If this isn’t the case for you and you’re required to submit a tax return, you’ll want to read on, as your situation will be a little different.
Reasons you might need to file
As we mentioned before, employees generally aren’t required to submit a tax return. But there are a few exceptions that we’ll need to break down before we get to individual deadlines.
When am I required to submit a tax return?
A lot can happen in a year. Maybe you spent some time looking for a job. Perhaps you couldn’t work for a few weeks because you were sick—or maybe you had a child.
If any of these circumstances apply to you, you probably received wage-replacement benefits. This may include unemployment, sick pay, or parental benefits. Reduced hours compensation also counts as a wage-replacement benefit. If you received more than €410 in 2021 from this type of benefit, you have to submit a tax return. You can find more reasons here (in German).
The tax office may also ask you to submit a tax return, even if none of these scenarios apply to you. You can find out how to submit a tax return in our guide.
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Mandatory tax returns—when do I need to file?
If you’re required to submit a tax return for the 2021 calendar year, you have until October 31, 2022. You can submit your tax return electronically via the official Elster portal. If you don’t have an account yet, register for one as soon as possible because registration codes come via post for security reasons.
If you are an employee and don’t have any other income, you can also submit a paper tax return. But remember to factor in delivery time. If the return is received after October 31, 2022, it will be considered late and a penalty will apply.
Tax return extensions
Compared to the voluntary submission deadline of four years, October 31, 2022 can feel quite tight. But if you need more time, you can apply for an extension to postpone the tax return submission deadline:
- Simply send an informal letter to your tax office. Make sure you state the reasons for the extension—for example, if you’ve been sick, or required documents are missing. Just be sure you don’t apply for an extension right before the submission deadline.
- If you work with a professional tax advisor, you’ll get an extension, which would make your new deadline August 30, 2023. But think about whether you really need that much time, because tax professionals can be quite expensive.
How long do you have to submit voluntary returns retroactively?
As you have four years to submit your voluntary income tax return, you can also submit your returns for 2018, 2019, and 2020 retroactively. The deadline for the 2018 calendar year is December 31, 2022. It’s important that the tax office receives the documents before midnight. Otherwise, you’ll miss the deadline and the tax office won’t accept your return. It’s best to put the tax return deadlines in your calendar or write them down so you can give yourself enough time.
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