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Tax rebates for German courses

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I'm thinking of paying for a German course as I've been quite slack so far and need to get on top of things.

 

I understand that it's possible to receive a tax rebate on a German course, so long as you can prove you need it (as if living in Germany isn't a good enough excuse). For example, if you need it at work. I work auf Englisch. The only time I need it at work is conversing with HR. Does anyone know if there's a rebate on German courses, and if so what is the percentage? (I'm guessing it's MwSt / 19%)

 

I'm hoping to jump into a B1 level, or maybe B2 if I'm feeling ambitious, so is the Berechtigungsschein applicable to these levels too?

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You could possibly get MsWt back if you are a freelancer / selfemployed (and include the fee as a deductible to of course). I certainly do. A lot of language schools don't charge VAT of course though.

 

You could try claiming it as Ausbildung costs (to 4000 Eur in 2007) on your tax return if it's considered related to your profession and so effectively get tax relief. Not only the course but related stuff like text books. It's Line 80 of the Einkommensteuererklärung (2007) and the related notes "Anleitung zu Einkommensteuererkärung" give more info (I've just been reading it ;) ). These forms are on the web if you can't get to Finanzamt or a paper version.

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Basic level German is nearly always turned down by the Finanzamt, because they argue that anybody living in Germany anyway needs to learn German, irrespective of job requirements.

 

However, advanced level courses may be approved, if you can provide good enough reasons (e.g. a letter from your employer that he asked you to take classes).

 

Chances are best for targetted classes, such as "Deutsch für die Wirtschaft".

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You could try claiming it as Ausbildung costs (to 4000 Eur in 2007) on your tax return if it's considered related to your profession and so effectively get tax relief.

Would have been my thought too, but dont be surprised if they dont accept it.

 

 

Aufwendungen eines in Deutschland lebenden Ausländers für den Erwerb von Deutschkenntnissen sind regelmäßig nichtabziehbare Kosten der Lebensführung (>BFH vom 15.3.2007 - BStBl II S. 814).

-> Because you are living in germany and have to talk to germans for private purposes, a german course is considered foremost a basic necessity and not expenses related to your job.

 

Still disputed is the following:

 

 

Zweifelhaft ist, ob für solche Ausländer etwas anderes gilt, die ihre privaten Kontakte mit deutsprachigen Inländern auf das Nötigste beschränken.

So who knows - if you claim to hate all germans and pretend to avoid all contact with them, maybe they will have to accept that your german course is merely for job related reasons. ;)

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The only time I claimed German courses was back in 2001. I claimed for my wife's courses because mine were paid by my employer. I got them back.

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As you can see in my quote the court decision is from 2007. Since then it has been adapted by the "Steuerrichtlinien 2007". So now, if the clerks at the "Finanzamt" know what they are doing, they wont let it pass. But you can always be lucky - it doesnt hurt to try and reclaim the expenses.

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Does this work for other language aquisition? I am doing a language class simpy for my own enjoyment but have just found out that I will be travelling to this country for work. :)

 

Or are there restrictions on how frequently / intensively you have to utlise this skill? I.e. Obviously conducting your business entirely in English / German but asking for a beer at the airport in the local lingo might not be though to be cutting it. :ph34r:

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Does this work for other language aquisition? I am doing a language class simpy for my own enjoyment but have just found out that I will be travelling to this country for work.

Well, it´s a different situation, but the way you put it, it´s obviously not job related.

 

As far as I know there are some court decisions and there are some regulations for language holidays. A business trip is probably not enough to justify a language course. Well maybe something like a 1 week course to brush up your already existing knowledge. Courses for basic language skills are rarely accepted as job related - unless you can prove that your job or the next step in your career will make it necessary to learn this language. If the language course is aimed at a certain group of people (businessmen, engineers, ...) it´s more likely to be accepted. Just try it. Worst case - they will not accept it.

 

It´s an art and not a science to formulate your reasons in a way that will be accepted by the "Finanzamt". But again, you can always be lucky and the responsible clerk is dreaming of his next vacation while checking your claims. ;)

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Some years ago, I got Italian lessons accepted after giving the Finanzamt a letter signed by my boss that speaking Italian is useful for my job.

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Well, it´s a different situation, but the way you put it, it´s obviously not yet job related.

Thanks Freising and Tom_a. :)

 

My langauge classes were previously utterly not job related so I had not considered the matter but they COULD now be perceived to be relevant to my job to make a hypothetical case to the Finanzamt.

 

I will have a closer look myself and see if my boss can draft something suitable for the purpose. My employer has already agreed to pay for next year's class as direct professional development but if I am (entirely by happy co-incidence) able to claim this years back through my tax I would be a happy bunny. And the nice tax people can only say no if it doesn't work.

 

Thank you both.

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