I'm surprised no-one has picked this up so far.
The tax authorities reinforced and enlarged upon an earlier announcement this week that they will allow tax payers who employ manual services ("Handerwekerleistungen") in the home to reclaim certain costs against their tax bill. This means that if you have your dishwasher or washing machine repaired at home then some of the costs can be offset against tax. Up to 20% of labour costs to a maximum of 3000 Euros can be claimed per year (so effictively up to 600 Euros offset against tax). This rule was originally to financially compensate homeowners for modernisation and repair, but has now been extended to cover all manner of work in the home. whether owned or rented. The tax rebate can be claimed only for the actual labour costs involved, not for parts or new equipment, and then only for actual work carried out in the home. These costs can also be claimed for the installation of new equipment, so would be valid for satellite installation, or maybe setup of telephone, internet or PC. They also extend to other services such as carpet laying, painting and decorating, cleaning, chimney cleaning or household help. The following conditions must be met: The work must be carried out by a registered freelancer or company a formal invoice is issued and paid for by bank transfer (evidence in the form of your bank statement may be required) the work is carried out in the home (if a TV is taken away for repair it does not count) Only labour costs apply - parts used for repair or replacement or costs of new equipment do not apply, although travel cost to and from job do The allowance backdates to work carried out after 01.01.2006, so for those of you currently completing last years tax refunds hunt down those invoices now! For people living in a Miet- or Eigentümsgemeinschaft (owners or renters association) jointly paying for services such as Hausmeister or Gardner, then their share of these costs (usually shown in the nebenkosten roll-up) also apply for the allowance.
Part of the opening up of earlier announced benefits is to encourage the small-business economies and to discourage "cash deals". If a worker offers 10% discount "for cash" then the customer will get a better deal if he gets a bill and claims 20% refund from the tax man.
For the those who want to read more in exciting detail, or if your Steuerberater does not agree, then have them read the enticing Schreiben des Bundesfinanzministeriums, Aktenzeichnen IV C 4-S-2296b-60/06 for more information.