If you are an employee in Germany, you are required to file a tax return every year. The good news is that the process of filing your tax return has been made easier through the ELSTER system. ELSTER stands for “ELektronische STeuerERklärung” which means “electronic tax return”. It is a free online platform provided by the German tax authorities that enables taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of filing your German tax return using ELSTER.
Step 1: Gather your tax documents Before you can file your tax return, you need to gather all the relevant documents and information that you will need. This includes your salary statements (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung), your health insurance contributions, your pension contributions, and any other documents that relate to your income and expenses in the tax year.
Step 2: Register for ELSTER To use the ELSTER system, you first need to register for an account. To do this, go to the ELSTER website and click on “Registration”. Follow the prompts and fill in your personal information. You will receive a registration confirmation in the mail, which you will need to activate your account.
Step 3: Install the ELSTER software Once you have activated your account, you will need to download and install the ELSTER software onto your computer. The software is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Simply follow the instructions provided to download and install the software.
Step 4: Prepare and submit your tax return Once you have installed the ELSTER software, you can start preparing your tax return. Open the software and select “Income tax return” from the main menu. The software will then guide you through the process of entering your income and expenses for the tax year. Make sure you enter all the relevant information accurately and completely. The software will automatically calculate your tax liability based on the information you provide.
Once you have completed your tax return, you can submit it electronically using the ELSTER system. The software will generate an electronic signature which you will need to enter to confirm your submission. Your tax return will be automatically transmitted to the German tax authorities.
Step 5: Check your tax assessment After you have submitted your tax return, you will receive a tax assessment from the German tax authorities. This will show the amount of tax that you owe or the refund that you are entitled to. Check this assessment carefully to ensure that it is correct. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the tax authorities to discuss them.
In conclusion, filing your tax return in Germany using ELSTER is a simple and straightforward process. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that you file your tax return accurately and on time. Remember to keep all your tax documents for at least six years in case the tax authorities request them in the future.