Why is filing in Germany so tedious and why do they need so many details?

We understand that filing a tax return under the best of circumstances is a very unfun subject. So, we do not expect you to find it a joyous thing when it comes to doing it in a country, a language, and a legal setting which you are not familiar with.

However, the tax office is going through a similar experience. They are receiving income information, expense bills and other documents which are not their bread-and-butter. So of course, they are wondering what all of this is, where it is coming from and why a certain tax treatment is in order.

The reconciliation itself is not necessarily difficult or complex for us – we do this on a daily basis. What makes this long, tedious and detail-oriented process is that the tax office would like to understand what it is we are doing and how we came to our conclusions – so we need to walk them through every single step. To put it pictorially…. your US tax situation is an F250 which needs to be processed in a system geared for Volkswagen station wagons. Definitely doable but it needs a lot of explaining, reasoning and the furnishing of documents supporting our take.

Also, there are still way more “normal” tax returns to be processed in Germany than those which come with non-regular/foreign income effects. So, a lot more staffing goes towards those as there is more work and more easily available tax money for the Germans than with returns from international individuals. This puts an international automatically on the backburner of any tax office in Germany.

So, long story short, international individuals’ tax returns need – by nature – more reconciliation work and do not enjoy the prime attention of a tax office. These two factors make filing a German tax return with foreign income effects a long, slow walk in the rain. We fully understand that this is not great, but hope that the above sheds some light on the issue in general. We are certainly in your corner trying to make this as smooth and efficient for you as possible, but also us need to work through the bottlenecks which the tax office presents us with.

German tax filing disappointed woman

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