1. I only Worked for Part of Last Year in Germany. Can I get a Tax Refund as an Expat?If you work only for some time in the year of your arrival in Germany you have to file a tax return in Germany for this particular year. As a rule of thumb you can take it that you will get a refund if the level of income before your arrival is lower than your German income. The same is the case if you did not work for some time at all before you came to Germany. If your level of income was higher before your arrival it can actually happen that you will have to pay extra in Germany.
2. I Moved to Germany Last Year and Stayed for Less than 183 Days in Germany to Work as an Employee. Do I Need to File a Tax Return and Pay my Taxes in Germany as an Expat?If you are tax resident outside of Germany while you are working in Germany, stay in Germany for less than 183 days and get paid by your non German employer you will most likely not have to get involved with German taxes at all (some exceptions may apply). Whether the 183 days are counted during the calendar year or a 12 month period can vary from country to country (defined in the Double Taxation Agreement between Germany and your country of residence [link to DTA] ).
3. I Worked as an Employee for the Full Year in Germany. Do I have to File a Tax Return as an Expat?If you are a single individual who has nothing but income as an employee and who has worked in Germany for the full year you have no obligation to file a German tax return at all (this can be different for married couples). However, you can voluntarily file a tax return if you expect a tax refund based on your tax deductible expenses [link]. This possibility is available for the last 4 years – sometimes even more.
4. What is a “Lohnsteuerkarte”? Where can I get a Lohnsteuerkarte and what will I as an Expat do with it?A Lohnsteuerkarte is issued by your local authority where you register as a resident (Kreisverwaltung, Stadtverwaltung, Gemeindeverwaltung). It is only relevant if you work or plan to work as an employee (not self employed). Your employer will ask you for your Lohnsteuerkarte as this is the basis on which he will work out your monthly tax. The Lohnsteuerkarte will show your employer whether you are married, what tax class you are in, whether you have children and whether you are paying church tax.
5. What is the Best Tax Class “Lohnsteuerklasse” for me Working as an Expat?There are 6 different tax classes reflecting your tax status and your tax credits:
Lohnsteuerklasse 1: single individual
You can work out your best option online if you go to “Lohnsteuerklassenwahl”:
6. How Much will I get Paid into my Hand?You can work out online how much is left of your salary after tax if you go to “Lohnsteuer”: www.ofd.niedersachsen.de/master/C363370_N9581_L20_D0_I636.html
You can work out your annual income tax liability online at www.abgabenrechner.de/ekst
7. My Salary is Paid into my Bank Account outside of Germany. Do I have to Pay Tax on it in Germany as an Expat?It is completely irrelevant for German tax purposes where you receive your salary or in which currency. As long as you are tax resident in Germany you are taxable on your worldwide income in Germany. Literally anything you receive (in any shape or form) in exchange for your services is relevant for tax purposes.
8. I Left Germany After having Worked as an Employee. Can I get my German Pension Contributions Refunded as an Expat?The most frequent situation we come across for purposes of a pension refund is the following:
* You have worked in Germany as a regular employee for less than 60 months,
Under these circumstances it is highly likely that you qualify for a complete refund of your German pension contributions. The money refunded to you is tax free. Refunds are made to anywhere in the world and do not preclude you from coming back to Germany at any point in the future to visit or to work here again. More details on the German pension system can be found at www.deutsche-rentenversicherung-bund.de