What is the least painful, but still financially not (that much) burdening way for returning (income) tax in Germany?

I have still not filed for tax returns for 2015. I started working in Germany in late 2015.

I learned that if you are to fill the documents on your own the deadline is the 31 May of the following year -- 31 May 2016 in this case -- which has passed already.

Otherwise if you have Steuerberater (tax advisor) the deadline is 31 December of the following year -- 31 Dec 2016 in this case.

The advisor might be costly but the colleagues argued that he can do a much better job than a person on his own, on the other hand I heard there is an "easy to use" software which one can use to fill the tax return on his own.

Do you have any experience on the topic, and what is the best option to go for?

4 Answers 4


The deadline was 31st of May in case if you were obliged to submit a tax declaration. In some cases (for example, you are an employee, never submitted it before, not married and have the tax class 1, etc.; please see the full list in German here), you are not obliged to do a tax declaration. In this case you can still submit the tax declaration on your own for up to 4 years back.

You can do it on your own (for free), or pay to the tax advisor. One more option is to join the "Lohnsteuerhilfeverein" (tax help club), sometimes it could be cheaper. In the last two cases the service fee will reduce your taxable income, so you can get a part of the amount you paid to the tax advisor back.

  • I provided some more links. However, they are in German. The tax law is rather complicated, there are a lot of different options and requirements, which could be updated with time. So I'm not able to translate and list them all here... Jul 27, 2017 at 16:32
  • 1
    links in German are fine as well, anyone asking themselves the question will have to deal with German anyway. +1
    – mts
    Jul 27, 2017 at 17:00

What makes it least painful is to think about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: It is most most likely that you will get money back at the end.

What also happens, because of the financial reward at the end it's something like a national sport, so if you ask around among German colleagues it is quite likely that someone will be able and willing to help you.


OK. Time to crank out this story again: I am originally from the UK, but moved to Germany in 2015.

We have an acquaintance who is a German citizen and grew up in Germany (so she is not frightened by documents in German); she has, amongst other jobs, worked in the UK as a consultant offering advice on international VAT regulations (so she is not frightened by fiendishly complicated tax regulations); she still chooses to employ a Steuerberaterin.

I would strongly recommend getting a Steuerberater[in]. As your colleague says, they will almost certainly save you more than they cost - and they are not all that expensive. We pay a few hundred euros for a joint tax return of a six-figure income (and the cost is based on your income). I would particularly strongly recommend getting an advisor if you are late - they will be in a much better position to argue for leniency from the tax office than you will.


The best option I think is buying one of the help-softwares which will guide you into the filling process. These softwares do not cost much (15-30€) and they explain you everything also with examples. The only drawback is that they are in German only (but you can manage with google translate).

You can buy them on Amazon or on the Finanzamt website. I can reccomend WISO:start, it is really straightforward. Just be sure to buy the correct version for the year you want to do the declaration for (if you buy version 2019 you can do the declaration for 2018, but not for 2017).

This software also tells you when the deadline for the declaration is.

You might also be interested in this: Taxes declaration Germany - How to

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