An income tax declaration is a written statement by a taxpayer regarding their income situation in one particular calendar year. The tax office checks your income tax declaration to make an assessment of the amount of taxes that should have been or should be paid for that year. If you've paid too much tax in advance, the difference will be refunded. However, if you've paid too little, you need to pay the difference to the tax office within a statutory period.
Voluntary tax declaration
If you receive your income as an employee, filing an income tax declaration is voluntary. Your employer calculates the tax, solidarity surcharge, and if necessary church tax based on your income and pays this to the tax office directly. However, an income tax declaration can be worthwhile, especially if you've had work-related expenses that could reduce your tax burden. These are, for example, expenses for a job-related move (including moving in from abroad) or for trips between home and work.
You may submit a voluntary tax declaration until 4 years after the calendar year in question.
Mandatory tax declaration
If you receive income from self-employment, renting, capital assets, pension or income from several employers, you will be required by law to file an income tax declaration. Further obligations arise from Section 46 (2) of the Income Tax Act (Einkommenssteuergesetz).
The tax declaration has to be submitted until May 31 of the following year. The deadline can be extended upon application. If the tax declaration is submitted by a tax consultant or income tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein), the deadline will be extended without having to apply.
You can submit your income tax declaration by mail, electronically or in person to your responsible tax office. Which tax office this is depends on your registered address. Moreover, you can ask a tax consultant or income tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein) to fill out your income tax declaration.
For further information, please refer to:
- City of Hamburg: Hamburg Administration Guide (to find your tax office) – (in German)
- Federal Ministry of Finance: Tax income declaration forms (in German language)
- Elster: Online tax income declaration (in German language)