The majority of the countries adopted a self-assessment regime for income taxation. US- or British citizens for example have to file their income tax return and calculate their tax burden. On this basis the income tax has to be paid.
In Germany the system is different. The taxpayer has to file an income tax return. The forms have to be transmitted electronically through a system called ELSTER (www.elster.de) to the German tax office. A tax calculation is also carried out in this system.
The due date for the transmission of your tax return is the 31st of July of the year following calendar year you are claiming for. If you decide to utilize the service of a tax adviser, the transmission period will be extended “automatically” until the end of February of the calendar year after next.
For example: For the calendar year 2018, you generally need to submit the tax return by 31st of July 2019. If you involve a tax adviser, the tax office generously gives you an extra 7 months until the 29th of February 2020 to submit your tax return.
The transmitted tax return is the basis for the tax assessment by the German tax office. The final tax amount payable / refundable is calculated by the tax office. Consequently every taxpayer receives a tax assessment note. Please be aware that this ugly looking printout on recycling paper is the most important document you receive from your tax office. Any mistake in this tax assessment note can only be challenged by a legal protest (Einspruch) within one month. If you miss the deadline you lose your legal position and possibly money. Therefore it is important to check the tax assessment note within the one month time frame.
If a German tax adviser has been involved and a power of attorney has been issued, the tax assessment will regularly go to him and will be checked immediately.
Especially in the year when you moved to Germany we highly recommend to consult a German tax adviser. This is because if you move mid-way through the calendar year your tax position become more complex due to taxable income earned abroad with relevance to your German tax return. In this respect we refer to our last newsletter.
Note: If you move to Germany in the course of a calendar year, make copies of your income earned and tax paid in your home country! ( https://relocation-agent.com/what-should-be-considered-by-expatriates-when-moving-to-germany-for-tax-purposes/)