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Last updated on January 6th, 2023 at 02:45 pm
Should you hire a Steuerberater for your German expat taxes? What is the cost of a Steuerberater in Germany? And what are your alternatives besides hiring a tax consultant in Germany? Learn more in this article.
Let’s be honest- When it comes to filing taxes, most of us have no clue what we’re doing. None of us intentionally want to deal with taxes even in our own native language, never mind in a foreign language in a country infamous for bureaucratic black holes.
Don’t worry my fellow expat friend! In this article, you can learn about how to hire a Steuerberater in Germany for filing German expat taxes (and the simpler and affordable alternatives!)
There are three main ways of filing German expat taxes.
- Online tax filing software: Inexpensive. No German required. DIY approach
- Lohnsteuerhilfeverein (Tax help associations): Moderate cost. German required. Guided approach.
- Steuerberater (Tax consultants): Expensive. No German required. ‘All done for you’ approach.
Scroll down to read about all options in more detail and my recommendations.
1. Online German Tax Filing Software
If you have an uncomplicated tax situation, then online tax filing software is your best friend! It may seem like an uphill task to get your head around when using a German tax filing tool for the first time.
However, the learning curve is very short and you can use live custom tax tips to maximise your tax refund. Investing an hour or two in online tax filing software in Germany can save you a lot of money.
1.1 Online tax filing software for salaried expats in Germany
If you are a salaried/ employed individual, then you can use English tax filing software in Germany such as SteuerGo.
Read my review and comparison of smartsteuer and SteuerGo and learn how you can effortlessly submit your taxes for under €50 per German tax return!
1.2 Online tax filing software for self-employed expats in Germany
If you are a sole trader or a freelancer, then you can also use tools such as Accountable to record your income and expenses, prepare your VAT or income tax statements and submit them to tax authorities – all in simple English!
2. Lohnsteuerhilfevereine (Tax Associations)
You can approach your local “Lohnsteuerhilfeverein” which are present in nearly every German city. Anyone in Germany can use their services. Members are required to pay a small one-time registration fee and then an annual membership fee, which depends on your total income including income from rental property and investments.
At the time of writing this post, the annual fees for a Lohnsteuerhilfeverein membership fee range from €49 – €325 per year. So they offer the most budget-friendly tax advice in Germany. Since they are run by German volunteers, you will need some German language skills to get help from your local Lohnsteuerhilfeverein.
Bear in mind though that the services of the Lohnsteuerhilfevereine are dedicated for comparatively simple German tax declarations normally for employed, salaried, people living in Germany without special requirements such as self-employed or foreign income.
In essence, as long as you fit their profile they offer the same services as any other Steuerberater at a more pocket-friendly price.
3. Steuerberater (Professional Tax Consultant)
It is possible to file your German expat taxes without lifting a finger.
The only caveat is that…
Before I proceed further, let’s get one thing out of the way – Steuerberater in Germany are freaking expensive. I can confirm this…because I
have had one until 2020! Most German tax consultants will not even get out of bed for €100/hr.
BUT, they can save you as much as they charge and give you the opportunity to sleep well at night knowing your financial affairs are in good hands. It is worth the investment due to reduced stress and helps to avoid extra financial burdens.
You can easily find an English-speaking tax consultant in Germany through YourXpert.de.
This platform is officially in German, however, you can easily filter the tax consultants by using their language filter. As you can see in the image below, they support quite a few European languages.
4) Checklist for Hiring a Steuerberater in Germany
4.1) Check the complexity of your tax situation
Assess your tax situation before getting a Steuerberater in Germany. You may really not need one for filing simple annual tax returns in Germany. With a little bit of research and great tax filing software, you can do it yourself.
However, if you have a double tax obligation, or you are self-employed in Germany or have income or properties outside Germany, then it is a completely different beast. Chances are that you are clueless about navigating the German labyrinth of paperwork and tax laws.
In this case, you might benefit greatly from hiring a Steuerberater in Germany.
4.2) Check for the latest fee regulations
You do not have to worry about getting ripped off by a Steuerberater in Germany. Fees for tax advice is regulated by law in Germany, a “Gebührenordnung” which bases the fees on income or turnover etc. There is an upper limit to the fee charged by tax consultants in Germany. Make sure to check for the latest standard rates regulation before accepting any offer by a Steuerberater in Germany.
No German tax advisor will vastly deviate from that as they can get barred if they are reported. Gesetze-in-Internet has great information and tables for verifying the current rates. There are also some online calculators which can give you an estimated cost of a Steuerberater based on your finances.
4.3) Check for the scope of their services
A professional Steuerberater in Germany can file your annual tax return plus other tax reports (advance VAT return) throughout the year (if you are self-employed). If you are self-employed in Germany they may charge a monthly fee plus fee for filing your annual German tax return.
4.5) Check for their reviews before hiring them
If you don’t have any personal recommendations for a Steuerberater in Germany then you may have to do your own research. Thankfully, a lot of Steuerberater in Germany have their own websites or Google Business Pages. Make sure to go through the customer testimonials before you hire them. You can also use a platform like YourXpert.de to read customer reviews before even sending an inquiry to a tax consultant in Germany.
4.6) Check for their language skills
Do they speak your language? This is very crucial, especially for filing expat taxes in Germany. You want to be able to communicate freely with your tax consultant. It is thankfully not so hard to find a bilingual Steuerberater in Germany.
For example, you can find a Spanish, Turkish or English-speaking tax consultant in Germany on YourXpert.de.
Want to consult an English-speaking German tax advisor? Use the question box below to briefly describe your query and find tax help (and a free cost estimate!)
A professional tax consultant is the best bet for someone who is self-employed or has a complicated tax situation.
Most regular freelancers, salaried employees, students and pensioners can use the tax associations for their annual German tax returns.
And, if you’re the bravest (and brokest) of expats, you can go the DIY route and use one of the many German tax filing software and apps out there for filing your annual German expat taxes.
How do you deal with taxes in Germany? Do you file your German expat tax return yourself or get professional help? Let me know in the comments below!
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