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Tax situation when coming back to Germany

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Posted

Hi there, I would really, really appreciate a response to the following...:

 

I lived in Germany from 2006-2008 and never filed any tax return. Bascially because I was never contacted by Finanzamt. Only once with a tax number - but never again after that.

 

I didn't have a job in Germany (I was sponsored by my uncle from abroad with occasional pocket money coming into my German account)... I was into arts etc. No income from a job and no registration as a self-employed. I just lived there.

 

At the time I left Germany I asked my lawyer friend if I should file a tax return. I hadn't had any contact with the tax authorities in the two years I'd lived there - but I wondered if the fact that money came into my account occasionally would interest them anyway. (We're talking something like 1,500 EUR per month).

 

He basically said to just leave it. I could just leave the country / de-register and then if they ever contacted me about taxes I could deal with it then. No worries etc.

 

Now - five years after - I am going back to Germany to work as a self employed. This time around I will have a proper income and therefore register with the authorities to pay taxes.

 

My big question is: Will the Finanzamt now expect a full statement for the past period I spent in Germany 2006-2008? I will register in the country with the same name but a different passport (simply because the old one expired meanwhile).

 

My fear is that I will get into trouble once I enter the country / start paying taxes. Because they can see I never filed anything last time I was there despite having had money coming into my German account.

 

My hope is that no one will ask about it since it's so long ago - and after all they never contacted me. I would assume the file for those years are already "closed" as far as they're concerned?

 

If all of a sudden I am asked to make a full statement about the money I had transferred into my account from 2006-2008 - and if there are all of a sudden fines etc. because of late payments... Well, that would be a big worry. Enough to make me stay here in Sweden I guess.

 

Can anyone help me understand what will happen when I register back to Germany and start paying taxes as a self employed. Will someone begin to look into the fact that I lived there 2006-2008 and never filed anything despite having money coming into my account? Or will their interest in that period have been expired by now.

 

I don't think I did anything wrong as the only income I had was pocket money - gift money from my uncle. But still I'm just a bit paranoid about the German bureacracy and how they might tackle this when I register back in the country. I would hope to just start from scratch from 2013 onwards.

 

I would really appreciate a response if anyone knows more about this than me.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Posted

Stop worrying, gifts from family are not taxable income.

Contrary to urban legends saying otherwise, German banks do not tell the Finanzamt about transfers into their clients' accounts.

 

You didn't have to submit a tax return.

 

The tax number you received back then was probably the Steuer-Identifikationsnummer that is valid your entire life and that even newborns receive, so getting that number does not mean you have to file a tax return.

 

Please see Freelancing as English Teacher for details on what the steps are to register as a self-employed.

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Posted

PandaMunich, thanks so much, you've saved my day. So does that mean - in your experience - that they won't even be making any enquiries about my previous spell in Berlin? Even if I use the same tax number as I received back then?

 

And on that note should I just register for a new tax number when I re-enter the country - or would they ask about my previous one.

 

Thanks so much for this!

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Posted

The Einwohnermeldeamt will ask you if you've ever been a resident in Germany before, to which you should answer "yes" (because you have). They'll then tie this up to your previous tax number when they find you on their systems.

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Posted

Ok - thanks again. So should I expect that they will ask me about my (lack of) income in my previous stay? Or in other words do I have to prove that I lived from family money in 2006-2008. Or will they not care about 5 years ago - even if I use the same number I was given back then?

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Posted

 

PandaMunich, thanks so much, you've saved my day. So does that mean - in your experience - that they won't even be making any enquiries about my previous spell in Berlin? Even if I use the same tax number as I received back then?

 

And on that note should I just register for a new tax number when I re-enter the country - or would they ask about my previous one.

 

Thanks so much for this!

 

Tax issues are a minefield here ( like in most places ) and Panda is a superb contributor on this forum in that regard, per37.

 

The next minefield? Have you done the research re health insurance here? If not, go to the search button top right and type in the relevant words " health insurance in Germany " etc. If you think, " oh, I´ll just sign up for something tomorrow "...do the research first..you´ll be amazed!!!

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Posted

Thanks for your comment, John G. Insurance will deffo be the next thing I worry about. (And quite a minefield too it seems!).

 

As a last thing I'd be much grateful if you PandaMunich, or anyone else, could quickly enlighten me about the question below:

 

Should I expect that the Finanzamt will ask me about my (lack of) income in my previous stay in Germany since I never filled in a tax return then? Or in other words: will I suddenly have to prove that I lived from family money in 2006-2008 when I come back now and start paying taxes for the first time?

 

Or will they not care about 5 years ago - even if I use the same number I was given back then?

 

I just don't want to get into anything complicated where I have to involve family members in documenting that they supported me. Or involve my German bank to get 5 year old statements. Etc. Will Finanzamt just believe me when I say I didn't have any taxable income back then ... Will they even be asking about this at all?

 

In Sweden I think there's a 5 year expiry anyway, after which the authorities can't chase up taxes.

 

Thanks in advance!

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Posted

 

Stop worrying, gifts from family are not taxable income.

 

... unless they go past certain limits. 1500 times 24? Anyone got the pre-2009 Freibeträge for Class II relationship Schenkungen handy? Cuz after that it's 20,000 Euro over a timeframe of 10 years.

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Posted

 

Should I expect that the Finanzamt will ask me about my (lack of) income in my previous stay in Germany since I never filled in a tax return then?

 

I never filed a tax return for the entire time I was a student here. Nobody ever asked me either.

 

If you really want to worry about something, use the search function and read up on health insurance in Germany. Then contact John for advice/a quote. :)

 

You should also read the thread to which Panda linked in post #2 carefully (although as a Swedish citizen you only need to have German (or BaFin approved foreign) health insurance and sufficient funds to live here).

 

Most importantly, your profile says Berlin; if you're planning on moving to Berlin make sure that there is a market for whatever product or service you are planning on offering. Poor is not sexy.

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Posted

 

Should I expect that the Finanzamt will ask me about my (lack of) income in my previous stay in Germany since I never filled in a tax return then? Or in other words: will I suddenly have to prove that I lived from family money in 2006-2008 when I come back now and start paying taxes for the first time?

 

No.

 

Let me explain it in a different way since you still do not seem comfortable with my previous answer.

 

In Germany, unlike in other countries, not all people have to do a tax return.

The majority of people in Germany go through life without ever having filed even a single tax return.

 

You only get a Steuernummer (= tax number):

 



  • after you have filed your first tax return, or
  • if you applied for a tax number since you wanted to become self-employed, by filling in a 8 page long, complicated form called Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung,.

 

Since you did neither of these things, what you got was not a Steuernummer (= tax number).

 

What you got was a Steuer-ID number (= Steuer-Identifikationsnummer), everyone in Germany has one.

This Steuer-ID number does not come with any duty attached to it, so please stop worrying.

The only thing you can do with it at the moment is, if you have money earning interest in a German bank, to use it to exempt the first 801€ of your interest from 26.375% source tax.

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