11 Best Tax Return Software Germany in 2022 – Suitable for Anyone

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Do you want to file a tax return in Germany but you don’t know the German language? No problem! In this article, you will find the 10 best tax return software in Germany for expats. Many of them are in English! You can choose the tax return software that best fits your needs in Germany. Besides, I will also share other useful information about filing a tax return in Germany, including the deadline, the process, different ways to submit a tax return, etc.

A summary for the busy people

5 Best tax return software in Germany (English interface)

Wundertax Climate-neutral tax return. Also suitable for self-employed. Price from 34.95 €.

Steuergo – Suitable for complicated cases including self-employed and rental income. With checklists and templates. Automatically compare the tax assessment notice. Also available in other European languages. Price from 34.95 €.

Taxando – The standard plan is only good for filing a simple tax return. Free if your expected tax refund is less than 60 €. The premium plan supports all cases with help from a tax advisor. Price from 33.8 €. Use the code TAX10 to get a 10 EUR discount

Taxfix – Good for filing a simple tax return without self-employment or rental income. Scan your payslip to extract data automatically. Price from 39.99 €.

Smartsteuer – Include 5 tax returns in a year. Also suitable for self-employed. Include checklist and templates. See your tax assessment notice online. Available in about 100 languages. Price from 34.99 €.

4 Best tax return software in Germany (German interface)

Taxman – Include 5 tax returns in a year. Very comprehensive and suitable for all life situations. Include checklist and templates. A receipt manager can upload your documents. Automatically check the tax assessment notice. Price from 29.9 €.

Zasta – Connect you with a tax advisor who prepares your tax return. Only suitable for employees with no rental income. Price from 50 €.

Wiso Steuer – Include 5 tax returns in a year. Very comprehensive and suitable for all life situations. Upload photos from your smartphone. Ask tax questions and get your tax return checked by a tax advisor in the ProfiCheck plan. Price from 29.95 €.

ELSTER – An official online tax tool from the government. Completely free to use. Suitable for all life situations. The tax language can be hard to understand. 

For self-employed: 2 Best tax return software in Germany with bookkeeping functions (English interface)

Accountable Free invoicing tool (save up to 5 documents). Free tool to track your income and expenses. Create tax reports automatically. Possible to export data to other platforms. Consult with a tax advisor at an additional cost. Price from 7.5 € per month.

Sorted – Completely free invoicing tool. Connect with your bank account for free. Free tool to track your income and expenses. Create tax reports automatically. Consult with a tax advisor at an additional cost. Price from 98 € per year.



Keep on reading for more details about each of the best tax return software in Germany. Scroll down for the detailed comparison tables of the best tax return software.



Note: We picked the above best tax return software in Germany based on our personal experience, online review, and in-depth research. We do not provide a complete market overview. Note that the data in this article is accurate as of the date when this article is written and is subject to change at any time in the future.

Introduction

Are you worried about how to file your tax return in Germany? I know that feeling. When I first started working in Germany, I had no idea how to file a tax return and I could not read anything in German.

In the end, I asked my colleague to help me out and filled out the tax forms for me. It was always so stressful because I didn’t really understand what was in the tax forms. Let alone what expenses I could have deducted from my tax return.

If filing a tax return in Germany is overwhelming for you, here is the good news. Nowadays, you can use tax return software to file your tax return with English guidance.

Yes, you hear it right. The software is in English! So, you can fill in everything with an English interface. The tax return software will also provide you with personalized tax tips in English to maximize your tax refund. 

First time filing a tax return in Germany?

If you want to learn more about filing a tax return in Germany, check out this article: Tax Return in Germany – English Guide.

In the article, I talked about the income tax rate, tax class, tax deductions, and more. If you are new to filing a tax return, make sure to read that first to get an idea about how it works here in Germany.

In this article now, we will focus on the best tax return software to use in Germany. Now, let’s start!



Disclaimer
: Please be aware that this article is intended to provide you a brief overview of the German tax return. This blog is not qualified to give you any tax advice according to German law. If you need more details and specific advice on your personal situation, we would highly recommend you to consult a tax adviser or the German tax office.

5 Best tax return software in Germany (English interface)

If you do not speak German and want to use English software, here are the 5 best tax return software in Germany with an English interface. 

 

Wundertax

SteuerGo

Taxando

Taxfix

Smartsteuer

Free trial

English

No installation needed

No subscription needed

Free tax refund estimation

Consult with a tax advisor

With Premium plan

Support Self-employed people

With Premium plan

Number of tax returns in a year

1

1

1

1

5

Price from

34.95 €

34.95 €

33.80 €

39.99 €

34.99 €

Other features

🔹Climate-neutral tax return

🔹Compare tax assessment notice automatically
🔹Different checklist and templates 

🔹Available in other European languages

🔹Free if your expected tax refund is less than 60 EUR
🔹The standard plan does not support complex cases such as self-employment or rental income

🔹Available in other European languages
🔹Use the code TAX10 to get a 10 EUR discount

🔹Scan your payslip and extract the data automatically
🔹Does not support complex cases such as self-employment or rental income

🔹Available in about 100 languages
🔹Different checklist and templates
🔹See your tax assessment notice online

 

More info

More info

More info

More info

More info

1. Wundertax

Wundertax was founded in 2015. It was originally an online solution for students to submit their tax returns in Germany. The service was so well-received that Wundertax expanded its service to other target groups in the following year. 

Nowadays, not only students can use Wundertax, but many others including employees and self-employed people. You can see your estimated tax refund and only pay if you decide to submit your tax return.

Some highlight:

  • No installation needed
  • Online, simple, fast, and safe
  • Pay only when you submit your tax return
  • Step-by-step interview guidelines
  • Prepare your tax return in 17 minutes
  • Integrated optimization checks
  • Live tax refund calculator
  • No tax prior knowledge is needed
  • English interface and free customer service
  • English tax tips
  • TÜV-tested customer satisfaction
  • Climate-neutral tax return
  • Suitable for employees, self-employed, students, expats, police officers, soldiers, etc.
  • The price starts from 34.95 EUR

Check out Wundertax for free now!

best tax return software in Germany_wundertax
Disclosure: If you click this link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

2.SteuerGo

SteuerGo provides an easy way to file your annual tax return online. You can use SteuerGo for free to calculate your tax refund. The great thing about using SteuerGo is that you only need to pay when you submit the tax return. 

SteuerGo is easy to use. You need to fill in a questionnaire with simple text. They are easy to understand. SteuerGo also provides free customized tax tips based on your information for a maximum refund.

After completing the questionnaire, you will see the estimated amount of the refund. You can then decide if it is worth paying the one-time fee and submit the tax return. 

After you pay, SteuerGo will provide a checklist so that you can prepare the correct supporting documents along with your tax return. Your tax return will be submitted electronically to the tax office. 

When you get your tax assessment notice from the tax office later, SteuerGo can also help to check the notice automatically. It also provides tips and templates in case you want to file an objection.

Some highlights below:

  • Easy to use and immediate calculation of your refund
  • No installation is needed. You can edit online everywhere.
  • Use SteuerGo on any of your devices with a web browser.
  • Pay only when you submit the tax return.
  • You can transfer your data from the previous year.
  • A checklist of tax documents and letter templates will be provided
  • Check your tax assessment notice automatically
  • You can submit your tax return safely online.
  • Free customized tax tips based on your information.
  • English interface and customer support.
  • Besides English, other European languages such as Polish, Hungarian, etc. are also available.
  • All data entered is checked for correctness and completeness
  • No subscription is needed.
  • Suitable for employees, freelancers, families with kids, income from pensions or properties, etc.
  • The price starts from 34.95 EUR

Check out SteuerGo for free now!

3. Taxando

Taxando is a tax app that you can use for free to calculate your tax refund in Germany. You only need to pay if you use the standard or premium plan. Another plus is that you can submit your tax return free of charge with the standard plan if your expected tax refund is less than 60 EUR.

One drawback of Taxando is that the standard plan does not support complex cases such as self-employed people, freelancers, rental income, capital income, and cryptocurrency. Even though you can use the standard plan as a student, the app is not optimized for students.

If you choose the premium plan, all tax cases can be supported. With the premium plan, a tax advisor will check your tax return for accuracy and you can also ask your tax questions.

Some highlights:

  • Easy to use
  • No installation is needed.
  • Available in different languages: English, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.
  • Immediate calculation of your refund
  • Free to use until you submit the tax return
  • Declare your income from abroad
  • Use Taxando on any of your devices
  • Send your tax return electronically to the tax office
  • Receive electronic tax assessment from Taxando
  • The standard plan is free if your expected tax refund is less than 60 EUR
  • Tax return reviewed by a tax advisor with the premium plan
  • A standard plan costs 33.8 EUR. Or a premium plan starts from 99 EUR.

You can use the code TAX10 to get a 10 EUR discount if you join the Taxando standard plan.

Check out Taxando for free now!

4. Taxfix

Taxfix is one of the most popular mobile tax apps in Germany with over 5 million downloads. With Taxfix, you can file your tax return easily without any tax knowledge or experience.

The app uses an inquiry-response process. You just need to answer about 70 questions relating to your tax return. On average, this will take less than half an hour. You can then see your estimated tax refund at no charge. 

You only need to pay if you decide to submit your tax return. Your data will be transferred by Taxfix to the tax office securely with the ELSTER interface.

One drawback of Taxfix is that it does not support complicated tax cases such as self-employed, freelancers, financial support of adult relatives, income from private pensions and real estate, etc.

Some highlights:

  • No installation needed
  • Prepare your tax return via app or browser
  • Easy to use and file your tax quickly
  • No tax jargon
  • English interface and customer support
  • English tax tips and instruction
  • Take a picture of your payslip and Taxfix will automatically import the data into the app
  • Automatic data check
  • Pay only when you submit your tax return
  • Estimate your tax refund for free
  • Your tax data will be transmitted securely
  • Suitable for employees, families, students, pensioners, short-time workers, officials, trainees, expats, etc.
  • A fixed price of 39.99 EUR, or 59.99 EUR for married couples and civil partnerships

Check out Taxfix for free now!

taxfix_best tax return software in germany

5. Smartsteuer

Smartsteuer was launched in 2010. And it has quickly developed into one of the leading companies in Germany offering online tax return services. Smartsteuer is now part of Lexware, an established accounting software company in Germany since 1989.

You can use Smartsteuer on any computer or tablet, as long as you have internet access and an up-to-date browser. When you get your tax assessment notice from the tax office later, you can see it online via Smartsteuer. It also provides tips and templates in case you want to file an objection.

A great thing about Smartsteuer is that you can file up to 5 tax returns in the year for 34.99 EUR. It means that with one price, you can even do tax returns for other family members if needed.

Some highlights:

  • No installation needed
  • Besides English, Smartsteuer’s interface supports about 100 other languages via Google Translate (even in Chinese!)
  • Free English customer support
  • Estimate your tax refund for free
  • File your tax return in less than an hour
  • Automatic data check
  • You can transfer your data from the previous year.
  • Pay only when you submit your tax return
  • Easy to use by answering simple questions
  • Step-by-step guidance
  • Get English tax tips that maximize your tax refund
  • Smartsteuer transmits your tax data to the tax office online via ELSTER securely
  • Get a tax checklist and letter templates
  • See your tax assessment notice online
  • Suitable for employees, self-employed, students, pensioners, etc.
  • The price starts at 34.99 EUR for up to 5 tax returns in the same year

Check out Smartsteuer for free now!

smartsteuer_best tax return app in germany_my life in germany

4 Best tax return software in Germany (German interface)

If you know some German, it is probably better to use German tax return software. It is because a lot of German tax return software is very comprehensive and suitable for every life situation.

I personally also use German tax return software and I am very happy with it. Below you can see the 4 best tax return software in Germany with a German interface.

 

Taxman

Zasta

Wiso Steuer

ELSTER

Free trial

Estimate your tax refund for free

English

No installation needed

No subscription needed

Consult with a tax advisor

With the ProfiCheck plan

Number of tax returns in a year

5

Per need

5

Unlimited

Support Self-employed people

Price

From 29.9 €

From 50 €

From 29.95 €

Free

Other features

🔹Suitable for every life situation

🔹Upload and manage your documents in the software

🔹Automatically check the tax assessment notice 

🔹Different checklist and templates 

🔹Connect you with a tax advisor
🔹A tax advisor prepares your tax return 

🔹Only support employee income
🔹Cannot support self-employment or rental income

🔹Suitable for every life situation

🔹Take photos with your Smartphone and easily upload them

🔹Ask tax questions and have your tax return checked by a tax expert with the ProfiCheck plan

 

🔹Absolutely free

🔹Official tax tool online from the government

🔹Not very intuitive

🔹The tax language may be difficult to understand

 

More info

More info

More info

More info

1. Taxman

Taxman is a tax return software from Lexware (an accounting software company in Germany since 1989). It is a very comprehensive software and suitable also for people with complicated tax situations. For example, self-employed income, real estate income, capital gain from investment, etc.

My personal experience

I have been using Taxman personally for 2 years now. I filed a joint tax return together with my husband. We have quite complicated tax returns in the last 2 years including a newborn baby, parental leave, both employed and self-employed income, self-living and investment properties, capital gain in Germany and abroad, maintenance expenses to my parents abroad, etc.

The Taxman software provides a very comprehensive explanation of the tax terms. It also offers tax tips on how to maximize the refund. There is a library in the software that explains pretty much all the tax aspects.

We were able to file our tax return by ourselves with Taxman. And we have deducted all the qualified expenses in our tax return. In the end, we managed to get back a big tax refund as expected. 

The drawback

To use Taxman, you need to install the program on your computer. The biggest drawback is that Taxman is only available in German. Since I work in the finance/ accounting field, I am familiar with those tax terms and thus it is not a big problem for me. But if that is not your case, it may be a bit too complicated for you to use Taxman.

The interface of Taxman is not super intuitive and not very modern. It was a little confusing for me at the beginning and it took me some time to get used to it. 

The good thing is that I could call the free customer service hotline when I had questions using Taxman. I did call quite many times in the first year and was able to solve my issue. The customer service only speaks German though.

In the second year, I already knew how it worked and I was familiar with all the forms in Taxman already. So, I was able to complete my tax return via Taxman much faster. 

Who should use Taxman?

I would recommend Taxman to you if

  • You need to file a comprehensive tax return
  • You already have some basic knowledge regarding German tax
  • You have some German knowledge

Some highlights:

  • A tax return software that needs to be installed on your computer
  • Step-by-step guidance on your German tax return
  • Comprehensive check of your data for correctness
  • Offers tax-saving tips and checklists
  • A receipt manager lets you upload and manage your documents directly in the software
  • You can transfer your data from the previous year.
  • You can see the estimated tax refund and how the amount changed based on the data you entered
  • Free customer service who can help you if you have problems using Taxman
  • Submit your German tax return to the tax office directly in the Taxman software
  • Ideal for employees, families, investors, landlords, homeowners, students, job seekers, cross-border commuters, retirees, self-employed people, etc.
  • Automatically check the tax assessment notice from the tax office
  • Free templates if you want to file an objection to the tax office
  • Price starts at 29.9 EUR for up to 5 tax returns in the same year

Check out the Taxman tax return software now!

2. Zasta

Zasta is an app that connects you with a tax advisor. Unlike other tax return software, you do not have to prepare the tax return by yourself. Instead, you will pay a tax advisor to do it for you with the help of this app.

The use of Zasta is free. But you have to pay the fee of the tax advisor. The tax advisor fee varies on a case-by-case basis. But you can see the fee in the offer first and decide if you want to accept it.

How does it work?

1. Register in the Zasta app in 3 minutes for free.

2. No need to enter all your tax data as Zasta will get the data directly from the tax office. For example, your salary, your tax class, the amount of social benefit received, etc.

3. Get the estimated amount of your tax refund and receive a price offer from a tax advisor without obligation within 3 working days.

4. Accept the offer or reject it at no cost.

5. Answer a few simple questions to maximize your tax return.

6. Your tax advisor checks all your answers and can chat with you in the app in case of questions.

7. Your tax advisor submits your tax return.

8. Your tax advisor checks the tax assessment notice once received from the tax office.

9. Your tax advisor can communicate with the tax office on behalf of you to maximize your tax return if the tax assessment notice is not correct.

10. You receive the tax refund in your bank. You can choose to deduct the tax advisor fee from this refund.

The drawback

Zasta only supports employee income. So, you cannot use Zasta if you have self-employment income or rental income. Besides, the app is only in the German language.

Some highlights:

  • No installation is needed.
  • Use Zasta via app or browser.
  • Register in only 3 minutes for free and without obligation.
  • Estimate your tax refund for free.
  • A tax advisor will prepare your tax return for you.
  • Extended tax return filing deadline as the tax return will be prepared by a tax advisor.
  • You can be sure that your tax return is done correctly as it is prepared by a tax advisor.
  • Your tax refund will be maximized as it is prepared by a tax advisor.
  • Only pay if you accept the offer from the tax advisor.
  • Zasta tax advisor’s fee starts from 50 EUR.
  • The fee can be deducted from your tax refund so that you don’t have to pay in advance.

Check your tax refund in Zasta for free now!

3. Wiso Steuer

Wiso Steuer is one of the most comprehensive solutions for filing your tax return in Germany. Over 2.8 million tax returns are submitted to the tax office via Wiso Steuer per year.

Wiso Steuer is suitable for any life situationstudents, employees, families, couples, homeowners, pensioners, investors, and self-employed people. You can also use Wiso Steuer if you have self-employment income along with your employee income.

The Wiso Steuer basic plan starts from 29.95 EUR. With this plan, you can file up to 5 tax returns in a year. It means that with one price, you can also do tax returns for other family members if needed.

Get help from a tax expert

Wiso Steuer also offers a ProfiCheck plan where you can have your tax return checked by a tax expert. This way you can make sure that your tax return is correct. You can also ask questions and get individual tax tips from the tax expert. And the price of the ProfiCheck plan starts at 128.95 EUR.

The drawback

A drawback of Wiso Steuer is that it is only in German. So, it may not be for you if you don’t speak German. But if you do know sufficient German, definitely check it out! It is one of the best tax return software in the German market.

Some highlights:

  • Work on all devices: via the app, browser, or download.
  • Only pay when you submit your tax return
  • Very comprehensive and supports every life situation
  • Many data will be automatically filled for you as Wiso Steuer pulls this data directly from the tax office
  • You can see the estimated tax refund 
  • Submit your tax return to the tax office electronically with one click
  • Comprehensive tax tips and explanation, including videos
  • You can take photos with your Smartphone and easily upload them to your tax return
  • With the ProfiCheck plan, you can ask tax questions and have your tax return checked by a tax expert.
  • Price starts at 29.95 EUR for up to 5 tax returns in the same year

Check out Wiso Steuer for free now!

4. ELSTER

ELSTER stands for ELektronische STeuerERklärung. This is an online tool from the German government. You can use ELSTER to submit your German tax return online completely free of charge

Why should you use ELSTER?

The main advantage of using ELSTER is that it is free. It is an official tool from the government to submit your tax return electronically.

The drawback

ELSTER is only available in German. If you do not have sufficient German knowledge, it can be challenging to use ELSTER.

Besides, the ELSTER tool is not very intuitive. You need to know which form you are required to submit to the tax office. Even though there are explanations in ELSTER, the tax language can be difficult to understand. 

Who should use ELSTER?

If it is your first time filing a German tax return, I would not recommend using ELSTER as it is not very intuitive. 

If you have filed a German tax return in the past, you may already know which tax forms you need to submit to the tax office. In this case, as long as your tax situation does not change much, you can use ELSTER and submit the same tax forms again. You can do so easier by referring to the tax forms you submitted in your previous tax return.

You may want to use ELSTER if you just need to file a simple tax return. For example, if you only receive employment income and do not have many special expenses to deduct. 

However, if you have a more complicated tax situation, you may want to use another tax return software that can provide better guidance with comprehensive tips and advice. 

In summary, you may consider using ELSTER if 

  • You want to use a free tool
  • You have some basic knowledge regarding your German tax return
  • You have some German knowledge
  • You only need to file a simple tax return

Check out ELSTER here now!

For self-employed: 2 Best tax return software in Germany with bookkeeping functions (English interface)

If you are self-employed in Germany, you are required to submit more tax reports than an employee. For example, you may need to submit a VAT return, profit and loss statement (EÜR), etc. So, you will have to look for a tax return software that supports this kind of tax report.

It is hard enough to be self-employed as a foreigner in Germany, especially if you don’t speak good German yet. Luckily, there is tax return software for self-employed people in Germany that are totally in English. This kind of software doesn’t just help with your tax return. But it also offers bookkeeping functions for free!

Below you can see the 2 best tax return software in Germany with bookkeeping functions and an English interface. They are perfect for self-employed expats who don’t speak German yet.

 

Accountable

Sorted

Free trial

14 days

English

No installation needed

Consult with a tax advisor

Optional

Optional

Bookkeeping functions

Support Self-employed people

Connect with your bank account

Tax deadline reminder

Register as a freelancer via the app

Automatically created your tax reports

 

Support additional salary as an employee

Support if you have clients outside of Germany

Track your income and expenses for free

Price

3 plans:
🔹Free

🔹Basic: 7.5 € per month

🔹Pro: 20 € per month

From 98 € per year

Other features

🔹Free invoicing tool (save up to 5 documents)

🔹Data can be exported to other systems or your tax advisor

 

🔹Completely free invoicing tool

 

More info

More info

1. Accountable

Accountable is a software created for self-employed people so that they can better manage their money and also taxes. This software is not just helping you with your tax return in Germany. Instead, it combines both the bookkeeping and tax return functions

The price

The app is available for free with basic bookkeeping functions. You will need to pay a monthly fee if you want more advanced options or use Accountable to prepare your tax documents. 

The basic plan starts at 7.5 EUR per month. This is ideal if you want to use it for bookkeeping and creating personalized invoices. It also allows synchronization with your bank account. If you have an accountant, he can also have access to Accountable. This allows you to have easier and smoother coordination with your accountant.

The pro plan starts at 20 EUR a month. With this plan, you can use Accountable to create tax documents such as VAT returns, profit and loss statements (EÜR), income tax declarations, etc.

Not sure if Accountable is for you? You can do a 14-day free trial to check out the full functionality. No credit card is required upon registration.

Optional service

Another great feature of Accountable is that it offers on-demand service at an additional cost when you need it. For example, you can connect with a certified tax advisor if you have specific tax questions. 

Some highlights:

  • No installation needed for the web version
  • English interface and customer support
  • A great way to digitalize your accounting for free
  • Easy overview of your revenue, cost, and profit
  • Easy management of your expenses by just attaching the receipts
  • Connect with your bank account for free and access all the transactions from the app
  • Automatic categorization of your expenses
  • Be notified when you get paid
  • Create legal invoices anywhere at any time
  • Data can be exported to other systems or your tax advisor
  • An ideal app to use with your accountant
  • Include VAT return, profit and loss statement (EÜR), income tax declaration, Zusammenfassende Meldung (ZM) and trade tax return (Gewerbesteuer).
  • See your VAT total updated in real-time
  • Timely tax reminders
  • Use Accountable to register as a freelancer and get your tax number for free
  • Suitable for small business owners (Kleinunternehmer), freelancers, and traders (Gewerbetreibende)
  • Optional: connect with a tax advisor at an additional price

Try Accountable for free now!

Accountable_best tax return software germany_banner
Disclosure: If you click this link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

2. Sorted

Sorted is a great online accounting tool for freelancers and self-employed professionals. Sorted is directly connected to the tax office via ELSTER. You can submit all your tax reports to the tax office through Sorted.

A great thing about Sorted is that you can connect your bank account for free. The software automatically tracks your income and expenses. You can create and send invoices to your clients from Sorted. All of these are free.

So, if you do not need to use the tax return service from Sorted, you can use it as a free tool to manage your finance as a freelancer or a self-employed person.

The drawback

A drawback of Sorted is that the annual trade tax return is not included in the plan. So, you will have to pay extra for the tax consultant on Sorted to prepare it. Besides, it does not support UG or GmbH companies at the moment.

Some highlights:

  • No installation needed
  • English interface and customer support
  • Start for free with no credit card required
  • Only need to pay when you submit your first tax report to the tax office
  • No ELSTER account or certificate is needed
  • Track your income and expenses easily for free
  • Create personalized and legally correct invoices for free
  • Email your invoices to your clients directly from Sorted
  • Connect your bank account for free to automate your tax reports
  • Automatically prepare all your tax reports as a freelancer
  • Receive English guidance when adding your expenses
  • Review and submit your tax reports with a click
  • Tax deadline reminder
  • On-demand help from tax consultants in English starts from 50 EUR, e.g. ask a tax question or review your tax reports
  • Use Sorted to register as a freelancer with the tax office and also get your tax number/ VAT ID for free
  • Include VAT return, profit and loss statement (EÜR), personal income tax return, and Zusammenfassende Meldung (ZM)
  • Support additional salary as an employee
  • You can use Sorted even if your clients are outside of Germany 
  • Your tax consultant on Sorted can help if you have income while living outside of Germany, or if you have investments in another country at an additional cost
  • Price starts from 98 EUR per year

Try Sorted for free now!

How to choose the best tax return software in Germany?

The best tax return software is different for everyone. In the end, it depends on your needs and circumstances. The best tax return software in Germany for me may not be the same one for you.

When choosing your best tax return software in Germany, you should consider the below factors:

The language

If your German level is not sufficient, it will be a pain to prepare your tax return in Germany by yourself. In that case, it would make sense for you to use English tax return software in Germany.

It will make your life much easier. Besides, you may get help from English customer services in case you have questions when filing your tax return.

Read also: 

Are you familiar with filing a tax return in Germany?

If this is your first time filing a tax return in Germany, you may want to find tax return software that can guide you step-by-step in simple language. The tax return software should be simple to use and has an intuitive interface. It is always more difficult to do it the first time. But once you know how to do it, the following year will be much easier.

Many tax return software in Germany can transfer your data from the previous year to the current year. This makes it much easier for you if your tax situation does not change much. Just update the old number to the new one and then you are good to go.

What devices are supported by the tax return software?

Is it a mobile app? Does it have a web version? Which operating systems are supported?

Do you need to download the software?

Some tax return software in Germany requires you to download them. Some others are online tools where you can just fill in everything online. 

Customer service

It is common to have questions when you are preparing your tax return. That’s why customer services are important. You can also get help from them if you have technical issues with the software.

Pay attention to the contact method of customer service. Can you contact them via chat, email, or telephone? What is their working hour? And which languages do they support?

The complexity of your tax situation

Do you have income from abroad? Investment income? Real estate income? Families with kids? Many deductible expenses? Make sure the tax return software you choose in Germany supports your tax situation.

On the other hand, if you have a very simple tax situation, you may just file your tax return with ELSTER for free. For example, if you are single, have only employment income, and not many deductible expenses.

Read also: Invest in Germany as a Foreigner – Best English Guide

The price

Many tax return software has an affordable price. And don’t forget that you can deduct the cost of the software in your tax return!

Many software only requires you to pay if you want to submit the tax return. So, you can fill in all your info and have a look first at the estimated tax refund. You should only pay if your estimated tax refund is more than the cost of the tax return software (assuming it is not compulsory for you to file your tax).

If you don’t want to pay anything, ELSTER will be your choice. Or Taxando is also free to use if your expected tax refund is less than 60 EUR.

Consultation with a tax advisor

Some tax return software such as Accountable offers on-demand services if you need them. For example, you can pay an additional price if you want to consult with a tax advisor. 

Software such as Taxando also offers a premium plan where you can be connected with a tax advisor. 

These services are great if you have a complicated tax situation, or if you want to be 100% sure that your tax return is correct.

Can you try it out for free first?

If you are debating which tax return software you should choose, try to make use of the free trial. You can then get a feeling of the tax return software to see if it is suitable for you.

Do you plan to change your life situation soon?

If you only have employee income, your tax return will be pretty simple. You can use pretty much any tax return software. But if you are planning for a change soon, you may want to use tax return software that also supports complicated cases.

For example, maybe you plan to do some freelancing along with your employed job. Maybe you plan to get married or have kids in Germany. Maybe you plan to buy a property in Germany and receive a rental income.

If the tax return software can only support employee income, you may have to look for another software in the future once your life situation changes.

Read also: Salary in Germany: Are you getting paid enough?

Are you an employee or self-employed, or both?

Some tax return software in Germany is specifically designed for self-employed people. Self-employed people have to file additional tax forms compared to employees. For example, the profit and loss statement, VAT return, etc.

If you are self-employed, it makes sense to choose tax return software that is made for self-employed people. Software such as Accountable even helps to register you as a freelancer and get your tax number for free. This is great for someone who is just starting out to be self-employed.

Do you need a bookkeeping function?

If you are self-employed, you are required by German law to maintain your bookkeeping. You may think that your excel spreadsheet is good enough when you are just starting out. But you can get overwhelmed very quickly, especially when your business is starting to grow.

It is better to use software for your bookkeeping. For example, to create invoices and have an easy overview of your revenue, costs, and profit.

Software like Accountable offers basic bookkeeping for free. This is great for people who are just starting their business. When your business grows, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans.

Is the software scalable for self-employed people?

As mentioned before, you should find software specifically designed for self-employed people if you are one. Pay attention to the size of the business that your tax return software can support. Some software only supports freelancers or sole proprietorships, but not bigger businesses.

So, if you plan to grow your business in the future, make sure your software can also support you. For example, when you start hiring employees or registering a company.

Why should you use tax return software in Germany?

Low cost

Even though using tax return software is not free, it is relatively cheap. And it is significantly cheaper than hiring a tax advisor. So, it is great for people who have a tight budget and still want to have some tax guidance.

Language support

If you are not familiar with the tax terms in the German language, filing your tax return via ELSTER will be very painful. Using tax return software in Germany is an easy way to file your tax return with English tips and instructions.

Automatically check for accuracy

After you enter your data into the tax return software, it will automatically check for accuracy. This helps you to file your tax return accurately

Tax tips to maximize your tax refund

With the tax return software, you can get all the tax tips and guidance when filing your tax return online. This can help to maximize your tax refund.

German tax explained in simple terms

Even if you know German, it is not easy to understand all the tax terms in the German language. In the tax return software, you can find all the tax information explained in simple language. It is much easier to understand.

See the estimated tax refund amount instantly

Many tax return software shows you the estimated tax refund amount while you are entering your data in the software. This is great for you to estimate if it is worthwhile to file your tax return, in case you are not obliged to do so.

Submit your tax return online

You can save all the paperwork and be environmentally friendly by submitting your tax return online via tax return software. Most tax return software can connect to ELSTER so that it can submit your data safely and 100% online.

Why should you file a tax return in Germany?

Not everyone is required to file a tax return in Germany. For example, if you are an employee and have no other source of income, the chance is that you don’t have to submit one.

However, it is usually beneficial to submit one even if you are not required to. According to Destatis, 57% of the tax refund ranges from 100 to 1,000 EUR. And the average amount of tax refund is 1,072 EUR.

Wow! That is a lot of money!

The thought of filing your tax return in Germany may be overwhelming (especially if it is your first time). That is why I write up this article to recommend you some good tax return software (also in English). It is really not as painful as you may think.

The only way to get a refund is to submit a tax return. So, if you have a lot of deductible expenses in the year, you should file a tax return to get your money back.

Read also: Church Tax in Germany – How to Stop Paying It?

Who must file a tax return in Germany?

If one of the below situations applies to you, you are required by law to submit your tax return in Germany.

1. Self-employed people: It is because your income has not been taxed when you earn it.

2. Work for more than 1 employer in the year.

3. More than one source of income: e.g. side jobs or foreign income.

4. Receive social benefits of more than 410 EUR: e.g. child benefit.

5. Family status: e.g. if you are divorced and remarried in the same year.

6. Certain tax classes: e.g. if you are married and are in tax class 3 or 5.

Besides, the tax office may sometimes ask you to submit a tax return per request. If that is the case, you will receive a letter from the tax office. And yes, you will have to submit your tax return as requested.

The 4 different ways to submit your tax return in Germany

1. Use ELSTER

As mentioned before, this is a free tool from the tax office in Germany. You can submit your tax return electronically via this tool. The drawback is that the tool is only in German and is not very intuitive. The German tax terms can also be hard to understand.

2. Use a tax return software

With the software, you can file your tax return online easily. Besides, you can get all the tax tips and guidance (also in English) at a low price.

In this article, I have summarized all the best tax return software in Germany. You will find one that fits best to your needs.

3. Use the Lohnsteuerhilfeverein

Lohnsteuerhilfeverein is an Income Tax Assistance Union that often consists of retired accountants or tax specialists. To get tax advice, you will have to pay a flat membership fee. It is usually between 100 to 300 EUR per year, depending on your income. This is much cheaper compared to hiring a tax advisor.

The drawback is that you can only get help if you are an employee. So, this will not be an option for you if you are self-employed. Besides, the service is usually only in German.

4. Use a tax advisor

For many years, I have been using a tax advisor because of our complex tax situation. The great thing about having a tax advisor is that I can ask questions and get tax advice. The drawback? I paid almost 1,000 EUR per year.

So, 2 years ago, I decided to do it myself with tax return software. I have managed it and got all the tax refunds as expected. And I paid 33 EUR per year.

If you are too insecure, you can also use a tax advisor for the first years. Once you know how it works, you can try to do it yourself. You can refer to the tax forms from the previous years prepared by your tax advisor. This works well especially if you don’t have many big changes year to year.

How to find a tax advisor online?

If you have a specific tax question, you can use Yourxpert to get a free online initial assessment from a tax advisor. Simply write your question in the below question box.

The initial assessment or recommendation is free of charge. If further actions are needed, you will get a non-binding offer with the price. And you can decide if you want to take the offer.

 


Tips: Even if you move out of Germany already, you can still file your tax return and get a tax refund. In this case, you can 
apply with Taxback.com. Their tax experts will review your personal situation and help you claim your maximum tax refund.

What is the tax return process in Germany?

Here is an overview of the tax return process in Germany:

1. Submit your tax return online

You can use ELSTER, tax return software, or you can hire a tax advisor to file your tax return for you in Germany. Note that if you use a tax advisor, you can have an extended tax filing deadline. It means that you gain more time to prepare all your tax documents.

A good thing to know is that you only need to submit all the requested tax forms to the tax office without any supporting documents. However, make sure you have your supporting document on hand in case the tax office asks for it. 

2. Additional documents requested by the tax office (optional)

You may receive a letter from the tax office, asking additional questions regarding your tax return or requesting supporting documents. In the letter, it will state a deadline by when you need to reply (2 weeks). 

That’s why it is important to have all your supporting documents on hand when you submit your tax return in Germany. This can ensure that you can respond to the tax office quickly in case your tax officer requests additional documents. You can reply to the tax office and attach your supporting document via ELSTER

Please note that this step may or may not happen, depending on your tax officer. If you are lucky, no additional document may be requested by your tax officer. And you can jump directly to the next step.

3. Receiving your tax assessment notice 

On average, it can take 8 to 10 weeks for the tax office to process your income tax return in Germany. The tax assessment notice will be mailed to you once it is done.

On the tax assessment notice, you can see how much tax refund you can receive. Or how much you need to pay back in case you owe tax.

4. Receiving your tax refund

You will usually receive the tax refund in your bank account within a few days after you get the tax assessment notice. 

5. Filing a protest (optional)

It is important to know that the tax officer is not always correct! There have been many occasions for us that the tax officer has calculated our tax return incorrectly. 

For example, my husband spent more than 6,000 EUR on eye surgery. So, we put this expense in our tax return. However, our tax officer rejected this cost, saying that this is not tax-deductible. This was not true. So, we filed a protest (“Einspruch” in German) and quote the associated tax rule regarding this type of expense. 

In the end, our tax officer agreed with us and we got back a (big) tax refund. So, don’t always agree with your tax officer. Read the tax assessment notice carefully and know your rights!

How to file a protest?

In case you need to file a protest, you can do so via ELSTER. A lot of tax return software provides protest templates that you can edit and submit to the tax office. You will need to file your protest within 1 month after receiving your tax assessment notice.

If you cannot resolve the conflict and you are confident about your argument, you can even sue the tax office! That’s why it is important to have a legal insurance policy in Germany as it may pay for the cost.

Find out more here: Legal Insurance Germany – Expat Guide (+ 3 Best Offers)

When is the deadline to file your tax return in Germany?

Not everyone in Germany needs to file a tax return. But if you do, you have to do so by 31st July in the following year. Note that if you use a tax advisor, you can have an extended deadline.

For example, for the 2019 tax return, the deadline will be 28th Feb 2021 if you file it via your tax advisor. If you are late, you may have to pay a penalty and interest on any amount owed.

Important: Because of Corona, the tax return deadline has been extended. For example, for the 2021 tax return, you can do so until 31st October 2022, or until 31st August 2023 (with a tax advisor). 

If you are not required to file your tax return in Germany, you can still do so in the following 4 years. For example, in 2022, you can file your tax return for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. So, it may not be too late now to get back your money if you didn’t file your tax return before.

Conclusion

I hope now you are more relaxed when thinking about your tax return in Germany. Filing a tax return doesn’t have to be stressful anymore, thanks to the tax return software. After reading this article, I hope you find the tax return software in Germany that works best for you.

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DISCLAIMER

Please be aware that this article is intended to provide you a brief overview of the German tax return. The information and tips in this article are based on personal experiences and thorough research.

This blog is not qualified to give you any tax advice according to German law and we do not accept any form of liability resulting from reading this article. Our blog makes no guarantee as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information in this article. If you need more details and specific advice on your personal situation, we would highly recommend you to consult a tax adviser or the German tax office.


How do you file your tax return in Germany? Do you use any tax return software? Which tax return software do you think is the best in Germany? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

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