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Expenses which you can deduct from your income if you are working as an employee in Germany

We know – filing your tax return is a pain for most of you. But, have in your mind that this could be also an opportunity to get cash back from the tax authorities. This happens if you have additional expenses to deduct from your working income. There is a lump sum amount of 1,000 EUR which you can deduct from your working income. However, it is very easy to exceed this amount significantly. Please find the main examples of what is deductible in your German income tax return.
Commuting expenses from home to workplace
• There is a flat amount of 0.30 EUR you can deduct per km between your home and workplace per working day. The smallest distance has to be considered, but, it is possible to consider another route if it is conveniently situated. Usually, the tax authorities accept 230 working days if you are working 5 days a week. Commuting expenses are limited to 4,500 EUR per calendar year if you are not using a car.
• In some cases it makes sense to deduct actual costs, e.g. in case the costs of monthly train, bus or city ticket is above 4,500 EUR per calendar year.
• It needs to be checked individually if it makes sense to calculate commuting expenses by lump sum or to take the actual costs.
Costs for home office
As a general rule, costs for home office are not deductible. But there are 2 exceptions: (1) the home office is centre of your professional work. In these cases you can deduct all costs related to the home office. (2) no other workplace is available. If this applies you can deduct all costs related to the home office up to a maximum of 1,250 EUR. Costs in scope of deduction are rent costs including heating and other ancillary costs and furniture.
Double household costs
You relocate to Germany but your family is staying abroad (or at least in another city in Germany)? You bear costs for both households where you are working and where you and your family are living? If so, you can deduct costs for double household:
• Additional rental costs for the flat where you are working, up to a maximum of 1.000 EUR per month.
• Costs for travel cost to visit the family with a lump sum of 0.30 EUR for the one-way distance once a week. If you go by plane you can deduct the actual flight costs.
• 24 EUR meal allowance for the first three month only.
• Phone and internet costs
• Relocation expenses see below.

Relocation expenses
If you move for your job you can deduct costs from your income. Job related movement will be accepted when you save at least one hour for driving to your workplace one way. Examples for costs you can deduct:
• Travel costs (e.g. hotel costs, flight costs, train costs etc.)
• Agency fees, broker commissions and furnishing.
• Double paid rent
• Storage of furniture, move of household
• Further a lump sum depending on your personal situation can be considered, e.g. married couples 1,622 EUR, singles 811 EUR, and for each child 357 EUR.
In case you obtain trainings for your professional development additional costs are deductible. It is not required that there is a link between the training and your job. If you can demonstrate that training will improve your professional activity even at another company or another business area, the costs are deductible. Examples what you can deduct:
• Seminar costs, registration fees
• Professional literature
• Work equipment
• Accommodation costs
• A lump sum of 0,30 € as travel costs for both ways can be deducted. Extra tip: in case you have a learning group travel costs for regular meeting are deductible in the same way as well.
• As lump sum for meals, you can deduct 12 EUR if you spend more than 8 hours on a business trip and 24 EUR if you spend the whole day.
Work equipment
Costs for work equipment not paid by your company can be deducted as well. Examples are Laptops, Software, Smartphone but also working clothes. Clothes which are not typical for your profession only, e.g. a suit, cannot be deducted. Costs up to 952 EUR gross can be deducted at once; costs exceeding this amount have to be allocated to the usual life. For e.g. laptops the useful life is 3 years.
Extra tip: Usually a lump sum of 102 EUR will be accepted by the tax authorities without any documentation.
Business trips
• Usually, you will be refunded by your company with standard lump sums for meals and travel costs when you are on a business trip. Further, it is very likely that hotel for the business trip will be paid. However, if you won’t get refunded by your employer you have the opportunity to deduct costs for business trips in your tax return.
• As travel costs, you can again deduct a lump sum of 0.30 EUR both for both ways. This is different to commuting expenses where you can consider one-way only.
• As lump sum for meals, you can deduct 12 EUR if you spend more than 8 hours on a business trip and 24 EUR if you spend the whole day.
• Hotel costs are deductible with actual costs.
• Different regulations apply if you are on a business trip abroad.

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