Starshollow

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Everything posted by Starshollow

  1.   are you eligible for receiving unemployment benefits (after your SPERRZEIT for quitting yourself) ? If that would be the case, why don't you wait with legally starting your own business until you have been at least a few weeks with unemployment benefits if your goal is to get into public health insurance? Because when you start to receive unemployment benefits, you'll be switched automatically (unless you dispute this) into public insurance. And since August 2013 and the introduction of the "Obligatorische Anschlußversicherung" you can then switch from this compulsory public insurance to the status of voluntary public insurance (which is always the case with self-employed) after just a short while (legally speaking: a day even would be enough in compulsory public insurance membership). Obviously, you must qualify for unemployment benefits both from having paid in long-enough (sounds to me that it is the case here) and to be "available" for the employment market...which means you have to abstain from starting your new business just for a short while.   Cheerio  
  2. Some questions about US taxes

    Kudos to @Straightpoop once again... great answer and information from the true US-tax expert on Toytown !   Cheerio  
  3. Freelancer with spouse who is a permanent employee

    AFAIK the exemption during the first three years is open to every new/first-time starting self-employed, regardless of whether you'll start with just one client or several clients. Of course if you start with several clients, there may not be so much need for this, but in the end it is safer to apply for the exemption in case you find yourself after a short-while with just one (main) client left anyway.   Cheerio  
  4. Tax deductions for pension and health insurance

      do you have public or private health insurance ? (and are you an employee or self-employed/contracting?) what kind of pension insurances are we talking about ? Public pension, RIESTER, RÜRUP/Basis, bAV (company pension) or just a private pension in Germany or anywhere else in the world ?    If you'd read the prior thread, as PandaMunich suggested, you'd know that this is the min. information required in order to give you any valuable reply at all.    Cheerio  
  5. ETF Sparplan vs. ETF Rentenversicherung

    I agree with your general comment - however, if you take a wee bit of time to look deeper into the scientific background of DFA (Dimensional Fund Advisors) based on findings of  Kenneth French and Eugen Fama (nobel laureate)  who is also part of the company. while it is "only" a passive investment fund, i.e. not into stock picking, they do overvalue the top quartile of value stocks, small caps and also apply parameters like momentum with a higher degree than the actual index. While their costs are marginally higher than pure ETF (and we are talking about fully replicating funds here only), they are still far away from actively managed funds and their costs. Depending on the underlying index, they have been outperforming for a long past by and large at around 1-2 % p.a. in comparison to the indexes. But they are entirely relying on a buy-and-hold strategy only, which is why they only work thru accredited advisors (which we are).   Here are just some key-points: https://execplanning.com/10-things-you-should-know-about-dimensional-fund-advisors   and here some videos: https://www.evidenceinvestor.com/dimensional-week-the-appliance-of-science/   It is no mumbo-jumbo, no witch-craft. A basically very simple strategy at the end...   Cheerio  
  6. ETF Sparplan vs. ETF Rentenversicherung

    if you want to build up capital per se, staying with a simple ETF savings plan is your best option when comparing costs and all (you might want to check out Dimensional Fund Advisors as an interesting alternative to pure ETFs, because they offer also only passive investment funds but with a (scientific) twist).   A pension plan makes sense if you want to lock in a certain guarantee for pension in retirement, i.e. take care of the "risk of longevity". While it sounds absurd to consider the chance to live long as a risk, it is one from a financial point of view. Because if you start using up your savings in retirement based on average life expectancy and end up living longer, you could find yourself in a situation where the money has run out when you have still a lot of life left. This is exactly what a pension plan is made - and taking care of that risk comes with a price (i.e. costs) on the insurance side. Hence in direct comparison, a pension insurance is inherently more expensive than a simple ETF savings plan.   There are some pension plans in Germany (you can find details about them here on our website: Company Pension - bAV , RIESTER pension  and RÜRUP pension ) that offer some tax incentives for setting up such pension plans. However, tax benefits always come with some rules and regulations that reduce the flexibilty of use of the invested capital. Therefore these plans only make sense if you are willing and prepared to put money away long-term for the sole purpose of having a pension in retirement paid out to you.    In order to figure out, how much in savings and pension plans you need, you could play around with our Pension Calculator a bit if you like: Pension Calculator LIGHT by CR&Cie   Cheerio    
  7. Dingdong the witch - DeVere - is dead in Germany   Astonishing news !   After years and years of complaints to the regulatory authorities in Frankfurt (IHK) it seems that DeVere Germany has lost the last license they ever had in Germany, the one to offer insurance advice. Since pension plans are insurance plans under German legal definition, that license has covered (kind of) a lot of sins in the past. But finally, Devere Germany has no such licenses anymore (despite their claims in Spring of last year to up their presence in Germany massively with a new/renewed office in Munich).    I got the word from a new client that DeVere is reaching out to all clients in Germany and urges them to appoint their Spanish office (or is it the Malta office?) as the new advisor. Do that at your own peril only! Setting up an advisor in a different legal environment where you have a hard time making any claims in case of malpractice is never a good idea. Period. Regardless of what kind of license they actually claim to hold anywhere else.   Checking the German DIHK online registry it turns out that no advisor company is listed anymore under the former German license number. So they are - legally at least - gone for good.    Since their website currently still shows for Germany the old license and offers services from the German office(s): if any of you are being contacts currently or more recently from the German office, please contact me ASAP because I am preparing a cease&desist order for them to market any German legal presence now and in the future as long as they do not have a German license. A please forget or don't listen to any "passporting" nonsense they will tell you. If they do and you are uncertain, contact me: I can explain.   Finally... After so many year...   One done - plenty more to go!   Cheerio          
  8.   ASEIG is foremost an association of self-employed in Germany. It has developed a special health insurance group plan for self-employed who, when coming from abroad to Germany, often face challenges in obtaining legally compliant health insurance in Germany due to their status as self-employed (which is considered to be a credit-risk by German private health insurance companies). ASEIG also has a standing cooperation with some specialized lawyer, tax-advisors and -accountants and insurance advisors. the latter can help you with finding the right legal liability insurance or other necessary business insurances.   Cheerio  
  9. Could I stay on "travel" health insurance for 5 years?

    I am glad that you are with my esteemed colleague Keith Tanner, who is a real professional with tons of experience. As an independent insurance broker he/we are beholden to offer you the best possible advice, i.e. to care for your best interest in the role of a fiduciary in contrast to insurance agents. If you do not know the difference in the German system, check the video on our website that explains this here: https://www.crcie.com/insurance/insurance-sold-germany/   Now, let's break down the meandering discussion here (where I am lucky enough to come in late when much more accurate information is available than was initially) :   1. it is important to check initially if you belong to KSK, i.e. if your occupation is considered to be more art than business. because if you do, going with KSK is a "Pflichtversicherung", i.e. it is not your's to choose if you go with public health insurance and with KSK or not, you simply have to.   2. German private health insurances are rather hesitant to accept a newby  self-employed/freelancer because of the credit risk. You do not have a credit history in Germany yet nor a secure source of income (from the point of view of the German insurance companies). Since they are not allowed to terminate a contract with you even if you fail to pay your dues, they will often enough not consider an application from you.    3. Solid alternatives with private health insurance in Germany are the following    i ) The group health insurance plan thru  the Association of Self-Employed Expats in Germany (ASEIG - www.aseig.de) with the HALLESCHE, a leading German private health insurance company. You can be insured with this group plan for up to 5 years. During that time (after min 2 years membership) you can also switch without further medical check-ups or tests into any normal health insurance plan from Hallesche. And because this plan qualifies/complies in full under both § 193 Abs 3 VVG (which stipulates what kind of private health insurances are compliant in Germany) and § 257 Abs 4 SGB V (which stipulates what kind of health insurance qualifies for full taxfree employer co-contribution and thus sets an even higher legal standard), you can also without risk of back-charges switch to any other German fully comprehensive health insurance later. ii) The Expat-insurance plan from OTTONOVA apparently also complies under Sec. 193 VVG and Sec 257 SGB V according to my latest info. iii) GLOBALITY (formerly from DKV Germany) is, last time I checked, the only international health insurance which has it in writing from the German regulatory body BaFin that they comply with Section 193 VVG.  Therefore you can also use this without having to fear back-charges later from other German private health insurance companies.They also offer a - so not fully guaranteed - option to change later into a normal health insurance plan with DKV (which is not a health insurance provider I would put on top of any recommendation list in Germany right now, though) .   All these three options are limited to max 5 years duration, but also offer the obligatory long-term nursing care insurance (German: Pflegepflichtversicherung).   Any other international health insurance would have to give it to you in writing (!) that they comply with § 193 Abs 3 VVG before you can consider them as really compliant choice under German laws. If an international insurance cannot offer such a guarantee in writing, it is not fully compliant. Period. You can still use it at your own risk as long as your local Ausländeramt plays along. But you could well face back-charges and other problems later. You would not believe how often we as professional advisors to Expats see that a few years down the road the need comes up to obtain now "real" health insurance but by then it is impossible due to negative development of one's health. Not a nice situation to find yourself and one that only offers really expansive solutions by then. And regarding your question why CIGNA is cheaper than German insurances: because it is calculated like a riks-insurance and not like a life-insurance is one of the main reasons. The latter is required under German law, though. What does that mean: CIGNA will get more expensive every year in an ever steeper curve upwards the older you get. because the older you get, the higher your health-cost-risk grows. German insurances are obligated to calculate your health-cost-risk for your entire (statistical) life-span at the beginning and divide these costs over time evenly (more or less) to calculate your contributions. Hence they have to be more expensive for younger people..but are significantly lower in premium costs when getting older. Plus there are some serious differences in coverage, too.    Special Expat health insurances like MAWISTA, CARE CONCEPT, BDAE, are legally speaking only travel-health insurance. They can only be used by someone here on a Visa (i.e. temporary stay) or otherwise clearly limited temporary stay, for instance like a study-program or research-project in academia. If they intended stay does not come with a fixed deadline, i.e. if it is not open-ended, one should not use this kind of insurance. It is sncll being sold otherwise, I know that. But the devil takes the hindmost and that is usually the client who later finds out he faces back-charges due to the use of a not strictly compliant health insurance.   Yes, health insurance does not come cheap in Germany. And it is required legally, too. The rules and regulae s are somewhat opaque, to say the least. but I outlined your options as best as possible above.   In the end the basic calculation for the insurance companies on the costs to cover someone's health are all based on the same statistics worked out by actuaries. Some changes in pricing can come from differences in administrative costs or negative trends of client-selection in an insurance plan over time. But if a health insurance is much, much cheaper than another, it HAS TO COME from much lower coverage or different obligation to actually pay for your health risks in the future. If you buy cheap, you'll get cheap...and not inexpensive.   Cheerio  
  10. help with PKV painfull saga

      Regarding the bold-marked text above: no, you are not required to hand over proof to a German private health insurance when signing up about your membership in public health insurance. They can rely on your info given in the application. If it states here that you have been with public health insurance before, that is all info they have.  On the contrary, you'll need to normally to show proof of your new private health insurance coverage to your old public health insurance in order to make the switch legal. But that, again, is nothing the private health insurance needs to care about...that is up to you with a confirmation provided in writing by the new private health insurance.   Cheerio  
  11. help with PKV painfull saga

    The main question will be, if you have any way of proof that you disclosed your prior insurance with MAWISTA to the agent (emails, notes, ideally your wife being present or someone else) ?  If that were the case, the health insurance company has no legal leg to stand on, because an insurance agent is considered to be "eye and ear" of the insurance company under German law..what you told the insurance agent is knowledge the insurance company had (no matter if the agent forwarded this info correctly or withheld it or even changed it). Without proof you yourself have no legal leg to stand on, I am afraid. if the agent says that you never gave him this info, it is a he-says-she-says-situation and the need to prove your side is right falls entirely upon you (there is no "Beweisumkehr" here, AFAIK). Be that as it may: you definitely need professional assistance and should not communicate with the insurance company or the agent yourself anymore as you are more likely to hurt your own legal position by doing that. Whether the insurance company is in its right to terminate the contract because of fraud/failure to disclose important info is questionable per se and needs an expert to look over it. Plus, if you can show proof as described above, you have a better position. I can list to you at least two very good insurance consultants that you can hire. if it turns out the insurance agent was changing/forging the application document in order to make a sale in the knowledge that his insurance company would otherwise reject the application or if there are other good reasons why the insurance company would not have rejected your application even if they had the knowledge and correct date, they will have to pay for your legal costs in the end, too. Of course, if they can legally sustain their cancellation, you'll not get your legal rep. paid for, too.   Cheerio  
  12. It always depends very much on where you apply for a permanent residence permit or citizenship. The different Ausländeramts have very different approaches and rules about this. When in doubt whether your UK pension is accepted to be counted in (which, legally, it should) and in order to avoid any delays etc., you can ALWAYs substitute the public pension with a private pension. It then just depends on what kind of private pension you can use as a substitute...that is, where the local regulations do differ a lot. Some will accept any form of pension schemes (like Munich KVR, for instance), others have very specific rules about the total amount the policy shows it would accrue guaranteed by the time you'll be turning 67 and will allow, for instance, only a RÜRUP pension plan for it, because a RÜRUP pension is technically mirroring the German public pension in so far as you can't cash in on the invested capital anymore (and thus squander it instead of receiving a pension ). So, check with your local Ausländeramt and get this information. Then have a qualified/specialized advisor work out a fitting quote for such a pension plan for you so that you'll know about your costs for better planning.   Cheerio  
  13. Health insurance for unemployed/returnees

      don't even think about private health insurance...   First of all: private health insurances in Germany are not interested in someone with an uncertain income situation. Hence they will not accept an application if they are "real" private health insurances under German laws.  All else is not a real health insurance and will lead to all kind of troubles (including back-charges later if you need to switch back to German public or private health insurances). Not recommendable! Secondly: public health insurance will about double - but that's about it. So something around 170-180 EUR tops per month is all that you need to pay. It may look steep when coming from just 90 EUR p.m. but it is still an excellent bargain under all other considerations.  Even with just a side-job with minimum wage you'll just need to work like 7-8 hours per month for the time being to finance the increase in health insurance costs..and once you'll find a real employment, it will be calculated differently anyway.  Little tip: if your VISA allows, look for a >451 EUR on the side right away, because then your health insurance costs are even lower because the employer pitches in, too.   Cheerio  
  14. Steuerbescheinigung für die Krankenversicherung

    indeed, the tax info is sent out directly to the Finanzamt. And if you would hand in something by yourself, it would not count because the Finanzamt will only take into consideration what they'll receive directly from the health insurance company anyway.    Cheerio  
  15. German retirement and pensions

    well, if  set this up, the value of the property is (on the outside) greatly reduced because nobody would buy it at market prices if the tennants cannot be evicted until they die. That is one way to "poison the well" , financially speaking.  But you'll need a good lawyer AND a good tax advisor for this in order to make it audit-proof for the Finanzamt and, in case something happens to them in the first 10 years after selling the property to their children - Sozialkassen/ämter.  But it could be a way to do this.   Cheerio  
  16. Finally, their website also does not claim anymore to be licensed to offer advice in Germany... now let's see how our complaints against other companies with similar activities and behavior in Germany are going forward with the regulatory authorities in order to protect consumers in Germany.
  17. German retirement and pensions

      Couple of info and thoughts here for you, @brokenm   1. trusts do not exist in the German legal system. Hence you can not safeguard or protect anything thru a trust as you would in USA or UK. 2. yes, the main risk for your parents and, in extension, to their children is that one or both of them could become a case for 24/7 long-term-nursing care. While both your parents have been paying (probably??? -depending on when they lived in Germany and since when they have been paying to the German social welfare system thru public health insurance or private German health insurance) into the compulsory "Pflegepflichtversicherung", their costs are met about halfway (depending on where they are living, because the costs for full-time nursing care vary a lot within Germany) from this insurance coverage. Which still leaves for one person an average gap of 1500-2000 EUR per month (!) that would not be covered by the nursing-care insurance.  In order to pay for this, at first any existing income (pension income, interest or rents earned, dividends etc) will have to be used. If that is enough, it can happen that certain assets belonging to them need to be liquidated, too. There are a lot of court proceedings and verdicts ongoing and recently passed that deal in detail with what can be demanded to be sold in order to get the money for the nursing-care and what not. Now, if neither the income nor the assets of the parents are sufficient to cover the costs of nursing care, the state will step in and pay for it..for the time being. After some time they will then reach out to the direct-line children and demand to be repaid by them. If there are several children, they can just go after one and have them then share it out amongst them (which creates obviously a lot of tension among siblings in such a situation). So, even if you find a legally sufficient way to get the ownership of the property transferred to you, you'll be still potentially liable.  And any gifting would become a legal problems within the first 10 years if during this time your parents would become a case where expensive nursing care is required - i.e. the government could demand the money back because it would be considered unjust to make yourself poorer in order for the public/community to bear the financial burden. Same even if you buy the property from them for anything remotely below market-prices.    So, what can you do? 1. ask your parents to get quotes for additional long-term nursing care insurance that covers the gap between public compulsory insurance and the real costs. It may not come cheap since they are already in retirement, but it beats the alternatives. They can go for a "Private Pflegeversicherung" or a "Privates Pflegetagegeld" and there are specialized insurance advisors to assist them with finding the right solution for them.  That way they can protect themselves - because if just one of them requires nursing care, the other one can be in a lot of financial trouble suddenly, too - and their children from the unpleasant consequences of having to pay for the nursing care eventually. 2. get a lawyer in Germany specialized on estate/gifting laws to check, if and what steps can be taken to protect the property in such a case. It could well be that at least if one of them is still living there, that it is protected against selling..or not. Hence a solid legal advice is clearly required here. 3. your parents should also set up a number of authorization documents with a specialized lawyer or advisor for the case of one or both being incapacitated to rule and decide about their own life (dementia, coma etc) or finances. If they have, for instance, a joint bank account, it does happen now more and more often that if one is confined to long-term-nursing care and mentally unable to take care of finances, the courts nominate an external person as fiduciary to take over the finances. Which then suddenly means that the remaining spouse has no direct access to their bank accounts and finances anymore. There is a package of decisions/documents to set up in such a way that they are publicly notarized and available like a "Patienteverfügung" (which rule under which conditions, for instance, life-extending medical treatment shall be curtailed because without that the doctors have to keep the machines running even if you know that your parent would not have wanted that), a "Vorsorgevollmacht" which authorizes the other spouse or a child or any other third person to take over the legal responsibility for the financial and social welfare if one becomes unable to take care of this anymore   So, you guys have a lot on your agenda to talk about. These are usually very unpleasant talks as the oszilate around topics that we all like to avoid rather than face. But they are nescesarry and part of "estate planning" in Germany.   Cheerio  
  18. Freelancer pension and citizenship

    if you are required to show proof of adequate pension set-up when applying for permanent residence permit mainly depends on your age, AFAIK (but I am NOT a Visa-expert, I am afraid). You can't be asked to pay backwards into the public pension because nobody can pay backward voluntarily into the public pension in Germany. Only if you were actually obligated to pay but didn't , will you be forced to pay for past periods of time (like many freelancers/self-employed in teaching positions find out to their displeasure or people with an artist or journalist occupation who actually belonged to the Künstlersozialkasse all along).   If the Ausländeramt requires you to show proof of adequate pension provisions, you need to show 60+ months anyway of such contributions to the German public insurance, because only after 60 months you'll have an irrefutable claim to receive a public pension when reaching retirement (of course, if you already have had contributions to other statepensions in EU-memberstates, that could be counted towards the 60+-months, too). In order to avoid problems regarding the public pension, you can also simply set up a private pension plan that fulfills the local requirements to be used as a substitute for a public pension. What kind of private pension is acceptable as a substitute (i.e. how much you have to pay in per contract til age 67 and what form of the pension plan) depends very much on where you are located, i.e. what Ausländeramt is responsible for your application.   An experienced financial advisor who caters specifically or even exclusively to Expats should be able to guide and advise you accordingly. Several such advisors advertise here on Toytown, contribute to this Forum and have a proven track record of professional competence and caring...take your pick :-)   Cheerio  
  19. Health insurance for unemployed/returnees

      for once a short answer is possible: YES :-) (provided the German spouse is in public health insurance, of course ) Cheerio  
  20. There is a lot of grey zone here, even though a lot of foreign employers tread in it...   The US employer can either go thru the process of doing an actual secondment for your wife to Germany. That way they can keep her on US payroll, social welfare contributions and she'll only have to do her taxes in Germany, too.    Or she can be on a German-law-compliant contract with social welfare contributions etc in Germany. There are many providers of payroll services for such employers who do not have an establishment in Germany nor want one. So you can get things totally above board and legally sound without getting the US employer in any trouble.   Cheerio  
  21. What's up with Hallesche? (No response to communication)

    Let me do some checking and I'll get back with you. Could be that most plans I have in mind only offer DENTAL as an extra to an inpatient or outpatient coverage.  More later tonight...   Cheerio  
  22. Investing advice for an expat in Germany

    but @jeba, similar to derivatives (Zertifikate, in English also often labelled as "autocallable notes") where German investors fund out after Lehman  Bros' went belly-up that these bonds are at 100% risk of the issuing/underwriting financial institution/bank goes bankrupt. I would therefore only advise clients using such for monies they can put at such risks and when the investor has both the financial means and the investor-type-profile to stomach total loss of investment in the worst-case-scenario.    Cheerio  
  23. U.S.-based Investments For American Expats 2019

        There are many index funds and other investment funds on the market that do not actually invest into the stocks and shares that they should be based on. Instead, they work with swaps and Cods in the background to "mirror" the underlying index. sort of. That has mostly worked well during the last years when most stock-exchanges went up and showed not too much volatility. But when the next major "crash" or corrections of the markets comes, a lot of people invested into index funds/ETFs will see with some amazement that the value of their funds is not in line with the actual index anymore (called a "tracking error"). Small tracking errors are not so much of an issue. But if the bets on which the fund managers based their "mirroring " of the index suddenly explode in their faces (the "Big SHORT" anyone?) , then it can get bad and rather expensive for the investors who did not understand the difference between synthetic investment funds and a fully-replicating one. You want the latter, not the former.    Cheerio  
  24. U.S.-based Investments For American Expats 2019

    HI there, you do face indeed the following conundrums here: - yes, should definitely avoid Germany or EU-domiciled investment fund because the IRS considers them to be PFICS. Adn the tax reporting for such investment funds is a nightmare to behold for the US-tax advisor, who'll bill you for his many hours of work so much money that all potential profits simply evaporate.     - yes, many US-domiciled funds are not open for investors who have a residence outside the US. Or limited to certain countries outside the US to which the fund has made special opening allowances. the US-domiciled funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors, for instance, are currently not available for resident clients in Germany. Many of the US-domiciled funds at Vanguard, too. And so on. It is therefore important to filter out, which ones are ok with clients in Germany and which not.    - yes, many, if not most, US-based banks and platforms do not offer or continue to keep investment accounts to non-residents for fear of getting slapped on the wrist by the SEC regarding the "know-your-client" regulations against money-laundering. The basic understanding being, that they can't "know" the client (anymore) if the client is not resident in the US. While a lot of US-nationals then keep a residential address in the US for such reasons, it can always get into the open that they are not actually residents there anymore and we have seen then cases where accounts have been closed/canceled in the US because of that. At the same time, most German banks and platform have no idea how to open and keep accounts that are based entirely on US-domiciled investment funds. Particularly with passive investment funds, the potential profits for the banks in Germany are a way to low to make this an attractive business in any way or form. Plus, many banks are scared shitless regarding FATCA and reporting to the SEC and rather would not have any US-nationals as clients for investment accounts.   So, all in all, not an easy situation. What can you do?   - buy single shares and stocks. These are obviously not considered as PFICs at all. Downside: it is very hard to strongly diversify such portfolios yourself and you'll have to put in a lot of money to diversify and balance your risks. Plus monitor it yourself  - in Germany you could also invest using private pension insurance as an umbrella. If you pick a strictly fee-based pension insurance plan (so-called Netto- or Honorar-Tarife), you can keep the costs relatively low and use all kind of investment funds underlying for your investment strategy. However, there are only a few pension assurances active or based in Germany that will accept US-nationals as clients for investment-fund based pension plans. And among those there is currently only one that I know that offers only fee-based plans at all. Thankfully, it is a rather good pension company at least. According to @Straightpoop, though, it is not a 100% certain, if and how the taxation reporting in the US play out on those, but it is definitely less of a headache than mutual or other investment funds from European providers. - there is also the option to use special "offshore pension funds" on Malta, because Malta has a relatively new and modern double-taxation agreement with the US from 2010 that stipulates a number of bilaterally recognized pension schemes. Downside: many of these offshore pension plans come with extremely high upfront commissions and serious conflict-of-interest in the background due to the high kickbacks from the investments underlying these pension plans sold by the usual culprits, i.e. hard-nosed snake-oil-salespeople from pyramid-structure sales organizations. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, like.  But there are some fee-based plans available there, too, which can be an option, especially if you do not plan to stay in Germany very long.   - last but not least, you can also use the services of a specialized advisor who has a) a US-platform perfectly willing to serve to non-resident clients and b )  portfolios of solid passive investment funds domiciled in the US that will keep your costs low and allow for a well-balanced and widely diversified investment portfolio. Donwside here: you'll need to pay fees to the advisor. Which might not be such a bad thing if the advisor offers you good services and diligent advice.   I have recently seen some special investment products being sold from the Netherlands to US-expats all over Europe as the best thing since bread came sliced. Having checked them out, I have some doubts as to their use under a German taxation regime on one side and the inherent cost-structure on the other side. But for completeness, I wanted to mention those, too.   Open-ended real estate fund have the problem that they may cease to be tradeable or to pay out if the real estate market gets into problems as we have seen with a number of German real estate funds in the past after 2007/2008. Which then can lead to heavy lossed for the investors. though I would consider those a partial addition to other investments in certain circumstances and if the investor-type-risk-profile allows for such additional risks.   Cheerio    
  25. the tax law for foreign (I.e. US_domiciled) investment funds has changed as per January 2018.  That may well be why what has been done for your taxes in the past does not compare anymore to what the private services does now. Both German/European and foreign investment funds have now to report in Germany the difference between share price on Jan1st vs DEc 31st of a calendar year, dividends and interest awarded to that fund (regardless of if distributed or accumulated)  and if the fund is 100% into shares and stocks , a mix between stocks and bonds or entirely into bonds.   Not sure, though, how your US taxes - if you have to pay any at all that is - are then credited to the German taxation side of this. PandaMunich or Straightpoop are probably best suited to answer that.    Cheerio