Tax Return for Students in Germany – Studentensteuererklärung

Taxes are an essential component levied by the Government. Anyone who has earnings in Germany can claim back part of the income tax which they have paid throughout the year. Today I will talk about Tax Refund for Students in Germany (Studentensteuererklärung)

Studying is expensive. Fortunately, as a student, you can claim back many of your study costs on your tax return. But the topic of taxes can overwhelm many students so they either do not think about taxes or do the bare minimum to get a refund. I often asked my seniors about tax returns and they either didnt know anything or just said to do the bare minimum, so here is some information for you to get started.

Lets start with the basics:

Who has to file a tax return?

In many cases filing a tax return is not mandatory for example if you are in tax class 1 or are married and both partners are in class 4/4 combination the you are not legally obligated to submit an annual tax return.

For all mandatory filers the deadline is the 31st of July of the following year. So for 2020 one has till the end of July 2021 to file a tax return.

For voluntary tax return one can apply for up to 4 years in the past, so in 2021 a student can apply a tax return for 2020, 2019,2018 and 2017 and can carry forward losses up to seven years (verlustvortrag) more on that later.

Documents Required

  • Tax Id Number ( 11 digit number you recieve within few days after you register with the city)
  • Lohnsteuerbescheinigung ( A document you usually recieve at the end of the year from your employer)
  • Bank account

What can be claimed in a tax return?

A: Education fees

Semester Fees, University registration fees, Exam Fees everything related to your education

B: Transportation Costs

Costs between house and university (30 Cents per km) one way costs

Seminars, Library other study events (2 way costs are accepted)

Uni attendence 100 days

100x1wayx10kmx30cents = 300€

Going to library

100x2wayx10kmx30cents = 600€

C: Job applications

Internship, thesis, permanent job

Per post 8.5€ , per Email 2.5€

D: Relocation costs

Moving to another city for internship or thesis

E. Telephone and internet costs

F: Electronic gadgets

Mobile, printer Laptop : 950€ max otherwise broken into different years

G: Other equipment

Printing costs, pens, paper etc

H: Any realized losses from your investments can also be mentioned and adjusted in the Tax return

Any many others that I might have forgotten

An important thing is to keep proof of things whenever possible, this will help you manage expenses and help you later on when you are applying for a tax return

How to file a tax return

The are many options available

  • Elster (official Program by the Govenment)
  • Tax Consultant (often very expensive and mostly used by professionals)
  • Tax Aid Associations (also mostly used for complicated tax situations)
  • Online platforms (wundertax,taxfix etc)
  • Softwares (Wiseo, Quick Steuer etc)
  • Submitting manual papers (due to covid it might not be available in many Cities)

Choosing a platform depends on the complexity of the taxes, in most cases it is better for students to go for Online platforms which cost 29€ onwards. One can go for Elster but it is in German language and is too complicated even for German nationals (but it is free).

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*None of this is meant to be considered as investment, legal or tax advice . As I am not a financial expert nor a tax consultant please do your own research and come to your own conclusions I am only sharing my experience with stock investing. The video and articles are accurate as of the posting date but may not be accurate in the future. Referral links used in the article, using them will help me earn some money if you use them at no additional costs to you.

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