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Checklist: This is what you need to know for your tax return 

Written by Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany
Updated on
Read in 3 minutes

You have until the end of July to file your tax return. That would seem like it’s more than enough – 7 months, after all – but many self-employed people still put off filing their annual tax return until the last minute.

In order to file your tax return in a timely manner and not lose too much extra time, this page provides an overview of the information you need to submit your tax return. 

Your tax number

One of the most important pieces of information in your tax return – and also one of the first pieces of information when processing it in ELSTER – is your individual tax number. This number is crucial for the tax office to properly identify you and see which tax returns you have previously filed. Therefore, you should always have your tax number at hand to fill out your tax return.

➡️ Freelancing in Germany: Here’s what you need to know about tax numbers

💡Tip from Accountable: You are not yet self-employed but would like to be? Then applying for a tax number is the first step! To do this, you just need to fill out the tax registration questionnaire – and you can do that easily and directly online with our helpful guide. Apply for your tax number now.

Your income

One of the most important parts of the tax return is your income – after all, the form is called an income tax return. Accordingly, you should first create an overview of all your self-employment income that you earned in the past fiscal year. In Germany, the fiscal year is identical to the calendar year, i.e. it runs from January to December.

Good to know: In the tax return, it is not the date of the invoice that counts, but the date of the actual payment, i.e. when the money arrived in your account. 

💡Tip from Accountable: If you link your bank account to your Accountable account, the payment receipt will be noted directly in the app and you will have all the info right there. 

➡️ Why you need a separate banking account as freelancer

Your business expenses

For self-employed people, business expenses and other business-related expenses are very important to reduce your tax burden and to avoid paying more taxes than necessary. You have to list your business expenses in the income surplus statement, or Einnahmenüberschussrechnung in German

➡️ How to submit your Einnahmeüberschussrechnung in Germany

💡Tip from Accountable: With our app, you can easily keep track of your income and expenses throughout the year, so you won’t have any problems entering the corresponding amounts when filling out your tax return as well as the surplus income statement.

Your insurance contributions

Also relevant for your tax return are the insurance contributions you have made during the year. This includes your personal health insurance and care insurance, but also other insurances related to your self-employment.

In order to save time when filling out your tax return, you should get an overview of the costs you have incurred in the past year. You will probably also receive a corresponding notice from your health insurance company.

➡️ A guide to insurance for freelancers in Germany

Receipts for your business expenses

You can deduct your business expenses via the revenue surplus statement. If you have always recorded your expenses or entered them via Accountable, then this will not take very long.

However, it is possible that you will be asked questions about this after submitting your tax documents – and for this you should always have the corresponding receipts available. In fact, in Germany there is even a so-called retention obligation, which means that you have to keep business records for up to 10 years and, if necessary, present them during a tax audit.

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Other information

Depending on your individual situation, other information may also become relevant for your tax return.

For example, parents must declare the payment of child benefits and have the corresponding total amount for the year on hand.

Married couples must also enter information on the spouse’s income, depending on whether they have chosen a joint or single assessment.

If you own real estate, for example, or have invested your money in other ways, you must also provide information about this. The best thing to do is to consult a tax advisor.

➡️ 5 common mistakes when submitting your tax return 

Preparation is  everything

As you can see, there’s not that much complicated information you need for your tax return – and if you organize your finances with an app like Accountable, you can file your tax return in no time.

➡️ Step by step guide: Here’s how to file your income tax return with Accountable

All your taxes. Done.

Just add your invoices. Accountable generates all of your tax returns without mistakes..
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Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany
Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany

Tino already built two companies and therefore knows the challenges freelancers face first hand. With Accountable he wants to solve all those challenges related to taxes.
When not working, Tino enjoys a nice Asado with a glass of Malbec as well as celebrating one of the occasional wins of favourite soccer team 1. FC Köln.

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