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Filing your tax return for 2023: What you need to consider

Filing your tax return for 2023: What you need to consider
Filing your tax return for 2023: What you need to consider

New deadlines, new allowances, new home office rules: What you need to know about filing your tax return for the 2023 tax year.

There is still time to file your tax return for 2023. But if you can’t wait to collect your tax refund, you can get started now. There are a number of tax reliefs on income tax for the 2023 tax year, some of which are automatic, others must be applied for. An overview of deadlines and changes as well as useful tips.

When is the deadline for filing the 2023 tax return?

The general deadline for submitting tax returns has been postponed several times in recent years. Compared to last year, it has moved forward one month again: The 2023 tax return must be submitted by Monday, September 2, 2024 (since August 31st falls on a weekend).

Those who prepare their tax return with the help of a tax advisor or a tax assistance association have more time. In this case, the deadline for submission is June 2, 2025Only in exceptional cases can the tax office demand earlier submission.

Citizens can file their tax returns much later if they do so voluntarily, although they are not obliged to do so (see below). The voluntary tax return can be filed up to four years later: For the tax year 2023, the deadline is therefore December 31, 2027And: The voluntary tax return for 2020 can still be submitted until the end of 2024.

If a due tax return is not submitted on time, the tax office can demand a late payment surcharge. This amounts to 0.25 percent of the assessed income tax – at least 25 euros for each month or part thereof.

Can I extend the deadline?

Deadline extensions are only granted in justified exceptional cases, provided that the reasons are not your own fault. If you want to submit your tax return later, you can apply informally to the relevant tax office. According to the consumer advice center, possible reasons include illness, long stays abroad or outstanding documents. The tax office will inform you in writing whether it will grant an extension and, if so, what the new deadline is. However, it can also demand that the tax return be submitted on time with reference to missing documents – a “provisional” notice can then be corrected later.

Who has to file a tax return?

Filing a tax return is mandatory for, among other things:

  • Couples with tax classes 3/5 or 4 with factor
  • Employees with tax class 6
  • Self-employed persons with income from freelance work or commercial operations
  • Persons who received wage replacement benefits (unemployment benefit I, short-time working allowance, parental allowance, sickness benefit) or untaxed additional income of more than 410 euros
  • Pensioners whose income exceeds the basic allowance of 10,908 euros.

Even submitting a tax return voluntarily can be worthwhile, as it often leads to a refund of overpaid taxes. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the average tax refund is around 1,100 euros.

What is the best way to do my tax return?

Paper tax returns are slowly dying out. In principle, it is still possible for employees and pensioners without income from self-employment to submit the forms by post. However, the tax offices have established the digital route as the standard. The free Online portal “Elster” The tax return can be filled out and sent paperlessly to the tax office. For several years now, receipts no longer have to be sent directly – they only have to be presented upon request from the tax office.

A practical alternative to Elster are commercial Tax programs or apps: They cost between 20 and 45 euros, but make it easier to fill out and provide tips and advice to ensure that you don’t forget any important items. This way, you can easily more than recoup the price. The test winner at Stiftung Warentest is Wiso, but other tax programs also do well.

If you do not feel confident about completing your tax return on your own, even with tax software, you can contact a Income tax assistance association or tax consultant Get professional help. This usually costs a three-figure sum. The exact costs depend on the complexity of the case and the income. Income tax assistance associations are cheaper, but are only open to employees, civil servants and pensioners (not to the self-employed).

By the way: Expenses for tax advice or tax programs can be deducted from taxes next year.

What’s new in the 2023 tax year?

The federal government has decided on some tax relief for the 2023 tax year. The tax offices automatically take into account the increased Basic allowanceup to which no taxes have to be paid on income – it rose from 10,347 to 10,908 euros. The other key figures above which a higher tax rate applies also increased accordingly.

The Child allowance also rose by 360 euros to 9312 euros. Alternatively, parents benefit from the higher child benefit of 250 euros per child. The tax office checks on its own initiative what is cheaper. In addition, the relief amount for single parent increased by 252 to 4260 euros.

The Training allowance rose from 924 to 1200 euros per calendar year. Parents can claim it if they support their adult children who no longer live at home during their vocational training.

Expenses for the retirement provision can now be fully deducted as special expenses.

The Employee allowance for business expenses was increased from 1200 to 1230 euros. The tax office sets this amount as a flat rate unless even higher work-related costs can be proven.

The Savings allowance increases from 801 to 1000 euros for single people and 2000 euros for couples. Capital income (interest, dividends, share profits) is tax-free up to this amount. To avoid paying capital gains tax, an exemption order must be submitted to the bank (can be split between several institutions).

What changes in the home office?

Those who work a lot from home may be able to deduct significantly more than in 2022. Home office flat rate has been increased and expanded. Instead of the previous five euros for up to 120 days in the home office, six euros can now be set for up to 210 days. Instead of a maximum of 600 euros, up to 1260 euros is now possible.

Anyone who has a separate study can deduct the full actual costs instead of a flat rate. However, this is only possible if the home office is the centre of your professional or business activity and where you spend more than half of your working hours. The previous option of deducting up to 1250 euros in actual costs in other cases (not the centre but no other workplace available) is no longer available. Instead of the actual costs that must be proven, an annual flat rate of 1260 euros can also be applied for the home office.

The article first appeared on February 26, 2024 and has been slightly updated

Source: Stern

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