Many people have had other types of income and costs in 2020 and because of the special circumstances there are some changes regarding the tax return.
For the home office there is a new lump sum rate. Single parents receive a higher relief amount.
Freelancers who have received aid due to the coronavirus [Soforthilfen] have to consider it as business income, increasing potentially their tax liability. While from January 2021, long-distance commuters can deduct more, people with a disability and relatives assisting them benefit from higher lump sums.


Who has to file a tax return?
It is mandatory for many more people than usual to fill in tax forms:

  • anyone who has received more than 410 Euro in compensation for short-time work [Kurzarbeitergeld] or other wage replacement;
  • employees who had an allowance registered in their income tax data or were in tax classes III/V, IV plus factor or VI;
  • pensioners, who – after deducting allowances, relief and lump sums – exceed EUR 9,408 (for married couples: EUR 18,816) in 2020.

Their tax return can be made on paper or digitally (with the help of a tax program or using the portal www.elster.de).
The deadline for all those who have to file their tax return this year will be the 2nd of August 2021. In case a tax consultant or a tax assistance association takes charge of the declaration, the deadline will be the 28th February 2022.


Voluntary tax return
If it is not mandatory, it may be worth filling in a voluntary tax return because it is possible to deduct business expenses [Werbungskosten] – such as for continuing education or a work-related move.
The voluntary declaration can also be submitted retroactively for up to four years.


Separate or joint returns?
For married couples and registered partners it is usually more convenient if they file a joint tax return, in case they want to benefit from the ‘splitting gain’ and save tax. However, if one of the partners has received a severance package or a wage replacement such as unemployment benefit or short-time working, it may be more advantageous to file them separately.
By using the ‘Elster’ tax program you can calculate in advance which is the best choice for you.