The German tax office usually collects more taxes than needed and refunds the surplus by bank transfer in the following year, once tax returns have been filed.

I'm now working in Germany, and I'm going to return to my home EU country (Poland). I will close all things here in Germany, including my bank account. How should I apply for tax refund, then? Can I send all papers from abroad, and give my Polish bank account details? Or am I expected to go to Germany two more times, to submit the papers and then to collect the money?

I'd like to avoid the latter, because it's 16 hours by bus in one direction.

I don't want to keep German bank accoun open, because they will charge 10 Euro each month if there will be no incoming payments. It's quite typical for German banks, as fair as I know. If you work, you pay nothing, if you don't work and have no income, you have nothing to say...

  • @GaëlLaurans I wasn't aware that it is such an issue. Maybe it's a reason for a separate question about it, generally in Poland people hate taxes, and critisizing them is a good chit-chat topic, but in some countries people can (?) take such critic personally (?).
    – user41
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:19
  • I would wait with closing the bank account, simply.
    – gerrit
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:04
  • @gerrit but the bank accout costs about 10 Euro/Month when no incomes, it's too excessive to pay such fee for about 10 months
    – user41
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:08
  • 1
    @Łukasz웃Lツ That's an expensive bank you have.
    – gerrit
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:27
  • Last year I did everything via ELSTER and after 6 months as I've got no response, I call them and it seems that my transaction ID from ELSTER was not registered in their systems, he did not understood why but I printed them from ELSTER and send them via post and I've got the refund in about 2 weeks, it was the first case, so double check with them in a few months if you get no answer, and as @juergend said, with the SEPA in place they will have no problem transferring to your Polish account, you will need to provide your IBAN and swift code (ask your bank for this if you don't know it).
    – Radu Maris
    Mar 25, 2014 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


I work in Germany some months and live in Argentina the rest of the year and get a lot of taxes back every year.

If your tax is rather simple and you don't have any receipts to sent to the tax office, then you can use the digital ELSTER to submit your taxes.

If you have receipts to send, then you can also use ELSTER if you like (but don't have to) and send your receipts (and the complete tax documents if you don't use ELSTER) by post.

If you include your Polish bank account info then the money will be transferred there. With the new SEPA bank system this is even easier.

And even if you forget something you can write up any declaration, sign it, scan it and send it by email to them. I did it in the past.

There is no need to show up personally. They only expect signed documents. If you can provide them in any way, you won't have a problem in my experience.

  • I suppose I'd have to include my Polish tax declaration for the rest of the year, because they wanted the same from me on the beginning (in that case, it was the income from the begin of the year) but if it's not a problem to send it via post, good to hear it.
    – user41
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:10
  • I suppose so. I had to include a declaration that I do not have any tax related income while abroad.
    – juergen d
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:19
  • Yes, they will want that. In Germany, the percentage of tax that you pay on your German income depends on your world wide income. If you moved to a country where you make twice the money, they would ask you to pay more tax. If you move to a country where you make less, you get money back.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 15, 2015 at 20:02

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