My primary reason for posting is that I've gotten conflicting opinions from 2 different Steuerberater (who specialize in German taxes for expats) about my 2015 tax liability in Germany, and so I'm hoping for some guidance on a tax residency question.
Here's the relevant background:
I'm a US citizen.
I moved to Germany from the US in September 2015 and was issued a Blue Card in Germany in November 2015.
I've lived in Germany continuously since moving here in September 2015.
- I was employed full-time and paid in USD by a US corporation that does not have a German entity between October 2015-July 2016. In July 2016, I changed jobs and started working for a German-headquartered GmbH.
Now for the conflicting opinions from the Steuerberater:
In February 2016, I spoke to Steuerberater #1 about filing taxes in Germany for the tax year 2015, and he informed me that because my salary was paid from the US and had not been present in Germany for more than 6 months during the 2015 tax year, I did not have a tax liability in Germany. Therefore, I filed my 2015 taxes in the US as if it was a normal tax year there. Note that I was detailed in describing to the Steuerberater my Blue Card situation, long-term intentions to stay here, etc, before he gave me this recommendation.
I just had a conversation with Steuerberater #2, who will be helping my wife and me file our 2016 taxes in Germany, and he informed me that I do, in fact, owe income tax in Germany on the salary I earned during the 2015 tax year after I moved here.
After doing more research of my own, I've more or less accepted that Steuerberater #2 is correct, and the best course of action is to file a 1040X on my 2015 US return, reclaim the federal income tax I paid on my 2015 foreign-earned income (I should qualify for the foreign-earned income exclusion under the physical presence test), then pay the relevant 2015 income tax in Germany as well as any penalties for lateness.
Of course, if I don't have a tax liability in Germany in 2015, I don't want to go through the hassle. But if I do have a tax liability in Germany in 2015, then I want to pay it ASAP.
Does anyone know if I was a tax resident in Germany in 2015 and if I owe taxes in Germany on income earned during the ~3 months I worked here that year?