Who is required to file a tax return?
If you received income from freelance work, business enterprise, or agriculture and forestry, you are obligated to file a tax return. As of 2021, this can be done exclusively via an electronic transmission. In addition, retirees with income exceeding the basic tax-free allowance (9,744 euros) are also required to file a tax return.
Employees with traditional income must file a tax return to their local tax office under certain circumstances. This can include, but is not limited to:
- married couples with tax classes 3/5 or 4 with factorization
- those earning additional tax-free income exceeding 410 euros per year
- those earning more than 410 euros a year in wage replacement benefits such as short-term work benefits, unemployment benefits, parental/maternity benefits
- those with a second job in tax class 6
- those who received a severance payment or anniversary bonus and chose to tax it according to the one-fifth method
You can find out more about these topics in our article regarding mandatory tax assessment.
Voluntary tax return
A voluntary tax return is recommended even for those not required to do so. In 9 out of 10 cases, voluntary tax returns lead to a tax refund – in fact, according to the Federal Statistical Office, the average refund from voluntary tax returns amounts to 1.095 euros.
You can expect a high tax refund from voluntary tax returns if you accumulated high expenses (such as income-related expenses, special expenses, or extraordinary expenses) throughout the year, got married, didn’t work the whole year, or your salary was subject to monthly fluctuations. For household-related expenses and tradespeople costs: a tax savings of 20% of the costs is directly deducted from your individual tax liability.
2021 Tax forms
Do you wish to forgo an electronic submission for your 2021 tax return? Here, we will provide you with the necessary tax forms from the Federal Tax Administration’s form management system as PDFs. Simply print them out, prepare your 2021 tax return, and send them to your local tax office.
- Main Form ESt 1 A Income tax return cover sheet
- Infosheet eData
- Form AUS Foreign income and taxes
- Form AV Entries related to tax incentives for pension contributions (so-called Riester contracts)
- Extraordinary Expenses Form (Anlage Außergewöhnliche Belastungen)
- Corona Aid Form (Anlage Corona-Hilfen) Expenses related to Corona emergency aid, bridging aid, and comparable grants
- Energy Measures Form (Anlage Energetische Maßnahmen) Expenses for energy measures in buildings used for personal residential purposes
- Form EÜR Income surplus statement (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Form EÜR-Report of Current Assets Report of current assets for Form EÜR (income surplus statement) (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Form FW Subsidides of home ownership
- Form G Income from business enterprises (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Form Household-Related Expenses (Anlage Haushaltsnahe Aufwendungen) Household-related employment, services, and tradespeople services
- Form KAP Income from capital assets / tax imputation
- Form KAP-BET Income from capital assets / Income from capital assets / tax imputation according to separate and uniform assessment (investments)
- Form KAP-INV Investment income not subject to domestic tax deduction
- Child Dependent Form (Anlage Kind) Declaration of child expenses / income
- Form L Income from agriculture and forestry (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Mobility Premium Form (Anlage Mobilitätsprämie) Entries related to applications for mobility premiums
- Form N Income from non-self-employed work (traditional income)
- Form N-AUS Foreign income from non-self-employed work
- Form R Pensions and other retirement benefits
- Form S Income from self-employment (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Form SO Other income
- Special Expenses Form (Anlage Sonderausgaben) Declaration of special expenses (excluding insurance expenses and pension contributions)
- Miscellaneous Form (Anlage Sonstiges) Other statements and claims
- Form SZ Declaration of non-deductible debt interest (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Form U Alimony payments to a divorced spouse
- Dependent Payment Form (Anlage Unterhalt) Payments to dependent persons
- Form USt VAT return (can only be transmitted electronically)
- Form V Rental and leasing income
- Provident Expenses Form (Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand) Declaration of provident expenses (Nursing care expenses, unemployment insurances, health insurances, etc.)
- Form WA-ESt Other statements and claims involving foreign countries
Deadline for your 2021 tax return
Tax return deadlines always fall on July 31st of the following year. This means the tax return deadline for your 2021 tax return is July 31st, 2022 – since this falls on a Sunday, your tax return must be received by your local tax office no later than August 1st, 2022.
Tip: Don’t procrastinate – late tax return submissions can lead to expensive lateness penalty fees.
Voluntary tax returns can be submitted up to four years following the tax year in question. This means if you still want to file a retroactive tax return for the 2018 tax year, you have up to December 31st, 2022 to do so – no exceptions will be made past the four year deadline.
Some important changes to the 2021 tax year
In 2021, the basic tax-free allowance (Grundfreibetrag) was raised to 9,744 euros – only the income that you earn exceeding this amount must be taxed. Child benefits (Kindergeld) and child allowances (Kinderfreibeträge) were also increased to 15 euros per child per month and 8,388 euros (for couples filing a joint assessment) respectively – this covers child allowance as well as education, care, and training allowances.
The Home Office Lump Sum was extended through the 2021 tax year: A flat rate of 5 euros per day spent working from home can be claimed up to a maximum amount of 600 euros per year.
Corona-related relief for short-term work (Kurzarbeit) still applies for the 2021 tax year, the only difference being that only additional earnings made during short-term work from mini-jobs (up to 450 euros per month) will remain tax-free.
The commuter allowance (Entfernungspauschale) increased from 30 cents to 35 cents from the 21st kilometer of one-way travel during the 2021 tax year.
The solidarity surcharge (Solidaritätszuschlag) is no longer applicable to 90% of taxpayers; simplified proof of donations will apply for donations of up to 300 euros; lump sums for volunteers, disabled persons, and caretakers have also been increased.
A detailed overview of tax changes during the 2021 tax year can be found in our article Tax Return 2021: Tips and Tricks!
Submitting your tax return with wundertax: File online
More than 28 million tax returns were filed online in 2020 and the trend continues to rise. If you want to save on expensive tax consultants or tedious form searches, your best option is to file your tax return online with wundertax: Submit your tax return easily and securely in just 17 minutes!
Our simple tax interview prompts you to fill in your income and expenses, offers tips on how to save additional taxes, and shows a live display of your estimated tax refund. Your tax return is automatically generated in the background – no software installations necessary! Furthermore, our tool lets you know during the interview whether you’re required to submit your tax return or not. Try out wundertax – easier than Elster by a long shot!
Try out wundertax for free and only pay upon submission! Find out your tax refund amount and only file if fully satisfied!
Tax assessment notice (Steuerbescheid): Appeals, changes
Did you forget to include certain information in your tax return? Did the tax office not account for certain expenses? After you receive your tax assessment notice (Steuerbescheid), you have one month to file an application for a simple change or to make an appeal against it. More about this can be found in our articles!