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How to get more out of your tax return in Germany in five easy steps

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Tax returns in Germany can be complicated, tedious, and time-consuming. Tax authorities don't seem to make things easier for expats, despite the fact that the number of expats continues to increase year over year.

Germany tax return tips

If you have ever attempted filing a tax return in Germany, you know how tedious it can be. Although preparing the documents and filing the tax return is a hassle, knowing how much you will get back is a relief. The following five tips could prove to be the icing on the cake.

Child care and school fees

You may be able to claim tax exemption for your children's school fees if you live in Germany with your family.

It may be possible to claim the tuition fee for a deduction if your children attend a school where the tuition fees need to be paid. It is common for international schools in Germany to charge tuition and other categories of fees. However, you need to keep the invoices when you pay the bills as the tax authorities require evidence for the fees that are paid.

Additionally, childcare costs can also be deducted from your tax return. However, you need to provide the bills and invoices as supporting documents while filing the tax return.

Training and education for jobs

Usually job related training or any education that prepares you for your job are paid by the employer. However, in the event that you need to pay for a training or a course of your own, then you can claim this for a deduction when filing your taxes.

The expenses for your transportation to the destination where the course is conducted, accommodation, food, any other related costs can also be considered. However, you need to show the invoices as supporting evidence.

Work from home

Since the pandemic began, most German companies had provided their employees with office desks, chairs, laptops, and other equipment to set up their home office. On the other hand, some companies offered additional payments to their employees so that they could purchase the necessary equipment. However, it is possible to claim up to 600€ for the expenses incurred to you to set up your home workstation if the bills are paid by you.

Therefore, make sure to include the invoices as supporting evidence when filing your tax return.

Supporting a second home abroad

The amount that you spend on financially supporting your elderly parents who are living abroad can be claimed for your tax return. However the parent who owns the bank account into which you transfer the money should be over 65 years old and not earn a living.

While preparing the documents, you need to include the bank account statements of both the sender and the receiver highlighting the corresponding monthly transaction. Additionally you also need to submit the maintenance declaration (Unterhaltserklärung) and Confirmation of receipt of money (Geld-Empfangsbestätigung) forms.

Travel expense to the home country

You can claim the expenses for the flight tickets if you paid them yourself when you travel back home to visit your parents or for any other purposes. However your trips to anywhere else cannot be considered.

As always, make sure to keep the flight tickets as well as boarding passes as supporting evidence while filing the tax return.

Understand the documents

It's not surprising that the documents related to taxes in Germany are in German. Therefore, it's essential that you understand everything related to them to fully benefit from your annual tax return.

If you are an expat and need to have any tax-related documents translated into English, I can recommend a service that I often use: Beglaubigung24. They are one of the best online translation services in Germany and offer translations for a variety of documents at competitive and reasonable rates.


SteuerGo is one of the easiest options to file your annual tax return online. Whether income tax, capital gains or childcare costs, SteuerGo is a good choice. They help to secure overpaid income taxes.

It is easy to enter your data with SteuerGo since it provides everything you need to get it done correctly and securely. With their online form, you can get started right away and keep track of everything, from personal information to useful tax tips.

SteuerGo checks all data automatically for accuracy and plausibility. Then you can securely submit your tax return to the tax office. Additionally, SteuerGo allows you to check the subsequent tax assessment notice from the tax office.

Another benefit that SteuerGo offers apart from the english speaking customer support is, you can try it before you actually file your tax return. You simply follow the questions, enter the data or any supporting evidence and see how much you will get back.

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