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About bdon

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  • Location Tempelhof, Berlin
  • Nationality USA
  1. Greetings, All! This is my first Toytown posting. Normally I don't engage in social media at all, but I'm so pissed off at GLS bank that I thought I'd write. I've had an account with Deutsche Bank for years, but their (lack of) ethics is so repellent that I decided to change. We were willing to pay the significantly higher service fees with GLS and were even ready to become 'members' (invest 500 euros in the operation), because we believe in socially responsible banking. We went through the process of setting up an account with GLS, but their follow-up service has been so abysmal that we finally decided to cancel the account before we really got started. They are absolutely unprepared to deal with English-speaking clients (we both have B2 level German, but with two things -- my money and my health -- I really want to be on the firm ground of my native language). Their telephone service is a joke -- several times I've waited nearly an hour for someone to pick up, and then they couldn't (or wouldn't) speak English, and didn't have the patience to deal with my halting German. We went to the one and only branch office in Berlin yesterday to try to get some consultation, and the woman there was so impatient and dismissive, basically telling us we had to do everything on our own via the German-language webpages. Not a hint of the human touch. Yes, I am spoiled by US service standards, and I know Germany is pretty much a service wasteland, but come on! If GLS wants clients, they're going to have to try just a little bit to provide some semblance of service!
  2. German tax for property sold overseas

    Greetings. I am new to Toytown and don't really quite understand how it works. I hope I'm writing in the most up-to-date thread, but the threads do not appear to be organized chronologically, so I'm not sure. I see a lot has been written on this topic and many relevant questions answered -- thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom (especially Panda). But I haven't seen my exact question answered yet.   My wife and I live in Germany are and are residents of Germany for tax purposes (my wife is a citizen of the Russian Federation and I am a US citizen). We are planning to sell an apartment we have in Russia. We bought the apartment in January 2016. My wife lived there full time until mid-2017, when she moved to Germany more or less full time. But then she got a part-time job back in Russia and was still going back and forth and spending time there throughout 2018, living in the apartment when she was there (she spent about 4 months there in 2018). She continued going back for periods of time in 2019 for personal / family reasons. In 2020 she couldn't go back due to Covid and the apartment sat empty during that time. She went back for a month in 2021 (April-May), and now she is going back to sell the apartment because we don't need it and we do need the money. My question is: do we have to pay tax on the money we make on the apartment? I have done some research on my own and see that if we had owned the property for 10 years, we would not be liable for taxes. We have had it only for 5 years (in Russia the rule is 5 years, so we are exempt from taxes in Russia). My wife lived in it continuously all of 2016 and the first half of 2017, and continued using it in 2017-2021 (but not in 2020 because of Covid). It has never been rented and no one else has lived in it. I see that there was a ruling by the Federal Fiscal Court in June 2017 (BFH Urteil v. 27.06.2017 - IX R 37/16 BStBl 2017 II S. 1192: Nutzung zu eigenen Wohnzwecken – Begünstigung von Zweit- und Ferienwohnungen) , according to which proceeds from the sale of owner-occupied holiday homes and second homes also benefit from the tax exemption. It seems to me that we would also be exempted from the tax obligation according to this ruling. But the BFH ruling also says:   Eine Nutzung zu eigenen Wohnzwecken „im Jahr der Veräußerung und in den beiden vorangegangenen Jahren“ (§ 23 Abs. 1 Satz 1 Nr. 1 Satz 3 2. Alternative EStG) liegt vor, wenn das Gebäude in einem zusammenhängenden Zeitraum genutzt wird, der sich über drei Kalenderjahre erstreckt, ohne sie —mit Ausnahme des mittleren Kalenderjahrs— voll auszufüllen.   That seems to complicate matters, as my wife's period of continuous occupation was 2016-2017, but not the most recent 3 years. Does this matter? Or would we still qualify for the exemption?   If not, and if we have to pay the 25%, then it will not be worth it to us to sell at this time, so I'm really hoping that I understand this exemption correctly and that we will not be liable for tax on the proceeds from the sale.   Thanks in advance for any light anyone can shed on this issue.