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About SteveHarris

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  • Location Berlin
  • Nationality US
  1. Am I getting overcharged for water utilities?

    Thanks for clarification @jeba ... Would Techem have the answer as to whether the cost per kubikmeter is fair/accurate?  The invoice I got shows cost and usage for the whole building, which they then use to calculate the cost per kubikmeter. 
  2. Am I getting overcharged for water utilities?

    Hi everyone — Thank you so much for your thorough responses.  The short answer is that we used way too much water and need to be more mindful, but also that the cost per kubikmeter of hot water being charged for my building is much higher than normal.  I checked with a neighbor, and he was being charged the same rate.  I have written to the management company and Techem (the utility company) for an answer about the cost per kubikmeter for hot water.  I will update the thread when I get an answer.  Thank you!!! 
  3. I just received my additional nebenkosten bill for 2019; it was our first year in Germany, so it covered 8 months (May-Dec). I owe 942 euros, mostly for water expenses. We were two people with a 3-year-old child, in a new building complex in Berlin, managed by a company called Allod. Apartment is 89 square meters, one bathroom. I think the water was heated by electricity. Does anything seem weird about these charges?   WARMWASSERKOSTEN 30% Grundkosten = 2.23 euro/sq meter x 89 sq meter = 134 euro 70% Verbrauchskosten = 18.52 euro/kubikmeter x 51.12 kubikmeters used = 946.62 euro KALTWASSERKOSTEN Bewasserung = 1.79 euro/kubikmeter x 142 kubikmeters used = 254 euro Gesamtbetrag Abwasser = 2.16 euro/kubikmeter x 142 kubikmeters used = 307 euro   HEIZKOSTEN 30% Grundkosten = 83 euro 70% Verbrauchskosten = 188 euro The figure that stood out the most to me was the 18.52 euro/kubikmeter for the hot water; is that high? Also it seems hard to believe that we used 580 liters of water per day. We did give the kid a bath every day and owned a high-efficiency washing machine. We are American and probably were not as mindful as we could have been with water consumption.  
  4. I am an American citizen who will move to Germany in June; I'll live there for at least a year, but probably more. Around that same time, I will be lucky to receive a financial gift from my parents, which I intend to invest.  The gift falls within limits of my German gift tax exemption, which we discussed on another thread. I am currently researching how to invest the money to shield it from relatively high German taxes. I intend to buy and hold long-term in a sensible, low-maintenance portfolio; I work full-time and don't need the income. I just want to park the money somewhere and let it grow with low fees, minimal headaches, and of course minimal taxes. Considerations and questions:   1) According to @Starshollow, I should stick to U.S.-based funds; otherwise my tax return in U.S. will be difficult. German 2018 laws make U.S. funds go down smoothly on the German side. However a lot of U.S. investment industry, including Vanguard (which currently manages my IRA), does not want to work with American expats. I do maintain a U.S. mailing address ("virtual mailbox" in Brooklyn) and a NYC phone number, so maybe they won't even know that I am in Germany?   Risk of PFIC for US nationals Vanguard - Special notice to non-U.S. investors Expat Want to Invest in Vanguard   2) How will using a broker or platform based in U.S. versus Germany affect my buy options and tax headaches? 3) I understand that German dividend taxes are higher than in the U.S.; also I don't need the income in near term. So funds that generate maximum growth along with minimal or low dividends would be better, right?  What would such funds be, that would work with American expats? (When I do cash out, maybe I'll be back in the U.S.)   4) According to sources highlighted by @PandaMunich ...  BMF-Monatsbericht DATEV brochure ... I understand that the German advance tax on "fictive profits" is smaller for non-German open-ended real estate funds (exempting 80% of the profit), versus stock-based funds (exempting 30% of the profit).  Does that sound right?  If so, are there U.S.-based open-ended real estate funds that also are high growth and no/low dividends ... that also work with American expats?!  And is it crazy to put this whole nest egg in one sector, just to avoid German advance taxes?     I also read here that there are German "tax traps" in open-ended real estate funds and that they should be avoided; also I should avoid "synthetic products" (not sure what that means):   5) Given all of the above, where should I put the money? : )