Need ELSTER online help

88 posts in this topic

Hello,

 

After successfully registering with ELSTER I'm painfully going through my first online freelancer VAT filing and hoping some kind soul with experience with the online ELSTER can help me out.

 

Apparently ELSTER updated their online application in January 2011, so none of the other guides I've found here on Toytown seem to apply. Once I get through this successfully, I promise to write a new guide. :-)

 

These are really basic questions, I know, so please be nice:

 

Section 3 is - Lieferungen und sonstige Leistungen (steuerfreie Umsätze) or "3 - supplies and other services (tax-free sales)" is this what I paid out (expenses), what I brought in (actual revenue realized), or what I billed?

 

Section 5 is Innergemeinschaftliche Erwerbe or " Intra-Community acquisitions" (according to Google translate). What is this? The page is pictured below.

 

Thank You

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What kind of strange screen shot is that?

I downloaded the official Elster software (ElsterFormular im Gesamtumfang) from here: https://www.elster.de/elfo_down.php

and my screen shot when opening the "Umsatzsteuervoranmeldung 2011" looks exactly the way it did the years before, i.e. like the paper forms they used before. So my old Elster guide for filling them in should still work :)

 

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As I see it, you don't need to bother with the section you mention at all, or have you been doing complicated trans-frontier business with other countries in the EU?

 

Normally, you just have to fill in two sections:

 

  1. line 27: in the section "Lieferungen und sonstige Leistungen", you fill in what you took in, i.e. from the invoices you wrote, next to "Steuerpflichtige Umsätze zum Steuersatz von 19%", the net amount and the VAT on that.
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  2. line 55: in the section "Abziehbare Vorsteuerbeträge", you fill in "Vorsteuerbeträge aus Rechnungen von anderen Unternehmern", i.e. the VAT you paid. For this go through all the invoices you got for expenses you want to deduct, find out what VAT you paid for each article, make an Excel table and add up the VATs. This sum amount of all those VATs you fill into Elster.
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Can't really help with the problem but it still makes me laugh they call it 'Elster' or magpie - a thieving little bird that will take the food out of your mouth!

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Hi Panda,

I'm using the online application not the downloadable software. It appears that the numbers next to the boxes (41, 44, 49, ...)are the same so I'll take another look at the software-version guidance on TT.

Thanks.

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Thanks,

Well, just my luck it looks like the field numbers are not quite the same. There's no field 81 anywhere. Below is the one and only page labeled Lieferungen und sonstige Leistungen (steuerfreie Umsätze). Since my clients are all in the U.S. and I DO NOT charge any VAT, I put my income in field 44: "neuer Fahrzeuge an Abnehmer ohne USt-IdNr." ?

 

Thanks.

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Disclaimer: I'm not a tax advisor, your situation is starting to sound complicated so you had better consult one

 

 

Since my clients are all in the U.S. and I DO NOT charge any VAT, I put my income in field 44: "neuer Fahrzeuge an Abnehmer ohne USt-IdNr." ?

No, not there, that would be if you sell cars within the European Union (Fahrzeug=car).

 

Is this the first time ever you have done a Umsatzsteuervoranmeldung (= advance notification for the Finanzamnt on the VAT you took in/spent in the last month)?

 

Your situation sounds exotic.

 

As far as I know you always have to charge VAT, the only exception is if you're a Kleinunternehmer, i.e. earn less than 17,500€ per year.

 

So I see 3 scenarios:

 

 

  • You are a Kleinunternehmer, but then you don't have to fill in any Umsatzsteuervoranmeldungen because you neither charge VAT nor can you get back the VAT on articles you purchased. See Umsatzsteuer 2009 form for more information on Kleinunternehmer.
    or
  • You are not a Kleinunternehmer, but your clients are among UNO, WHO, NATO, the European Commission, etc. and then that client will give you a certificate for VAT exemption. If your earnings stem from those sources then again, you don't fill in that income into a Umsatzsteuervoranmeldung but you will have to fill in lines 47 to 48 in Anlage UR and submit it together the VAT exemption certificate the UN/WHO/NATO/European Commision issued you, in your yearly tax return.
    or
  • You are not a Kleinunternehmer, then you should have charged your clients 19% VAT and if you didn't you will still have to pay the Finanzamt.
    If for example you expect to earn 60,000€ in 2011 from your clients and they paid you 5,000€ in January 2011:
    5,000€ / 1,19 = 4,201.68€ is your net amount (goes into field 81). The Elster software will automatically calculate the 19% VAT on that, i.e. 798,32€.
    If you don't have any VAT on articles you bought to put into field 66, then you owe the Finazamt exactly those 798,32€ and have to transfer them into the Finanzamt's bank account (find out what it is!) immediately, without any further action or reminder from them. If you don't do that until the 10th day of February, they will send you a letter asking for those 798,32e + an arrears fee.

 

 

In any case, if those field number don't correspond in your version of Elster, I would stop using the online version you are using at them moment and download the official standard Elster software (the big packet version which includes all forms) from the link I gave in my previous post. Those field number have to be the same, tax forms are the same in all of Germany.

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You´re amazing, Panda! I couldn´t get the bloody Elster thing to work yesterday. Phoned the Finanzamt..they sort of laughed and said print it out and deliver it personally.

 

:D Reckon the cold weather took over..I was determined NOT to go and deliver it in that weather...somehow managed to get some update and sort it out.

 

Saved me my next bout of flu!!

I am a professional independent insurance broker and authorised advertiser. Contact me.
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You´re amazing, Panda! I couldn´t get the bloody Elster thing to work yesterday.

Yes, it's going through the first flaky phase I've had with it. Not only was there that issue with sending Dec end VAT returns after 31.12 (another thread detailed the workaround there). But, yes, some bits of 2011 just do not work (my particular favourite last time I looked was inability to enter my tax number, just the key identifier that holds it together). It's not urgent for my May deadline and I assume they may send a fix and, of course, you have to submit year-end on paper (ie. original sig) as well anyway.

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@CarolynS: You should really talk to a tax advisor at least once. VAT law can be very difficult.

Are you offering services or are you sendig actual goods to the US?

If it is goods, then they are probably tax free "Ausfuhrlieferungen".

If you are offering services, then it depends on the kind of service and if the recipients are businesses or private people and other stuff that is to complicated to explain here. One outcome could be, that your services are not taxable in germany (because they are taxable in the US) - then they might not even have to be declared in this ELSTER form.

 

Of course goods or services to recipients within the EU are treated differently - and for business within germany it´s a whole other story...

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Oh, I just hate taxes. Seriously, a car? Oh boy, I better call them in the morning.

 

Actually I've been through 3 tax advisers, just fired the last one today. Three different opinions on everything. The last two did tell me I don't pay VAT since I have only American clients but I can still claim back any tax I pay on, say, buying copy paper. I've been paying a tax person to fill out what always seemed to be a very simple, two-invoice & less-than-€50—in—VAT form every month. They charge €50 euros for the privilege.

 

There's got to be an easier way.

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Okay, so, if one has entered a VAT declaration with incorrect information, what's next. Can it be deleted in Elster or must I contact the Ampt?

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The last two did tell me I don't pay VAT since I have only American clients but I can still claim back any tax I pay on, say, buying copy paper.

 

Well that is certainly possible, it´s even likely if two experts said it. Now you just have to know if you dont pay VAT because it is tax-free or because it is non-taxable in germany. Oh and you need to make sure, you have all the legally required documentation ready to prove it. The Finanzamt can get very strict, if someone claims he doesnt need to pay taxes.

 

 

I've been paying a tax person to fill out what always seemed to be a very simple, two-invoice & less-than-€50—in—VAT form every month. They charge €50 euros for the privilege.

 

I guess you know better now. You pay them for their knowledge. You pay them for their time (and the time that you dont need to waste). And you pay them, because if they make a mistake, you can hold them responsible for the damage.

 

 

Okay, so, if one has entered a VAT declaration with incorrect information, what's next. Can it be deleted in Elster or must I contact the Ampt?

 

You simply replace it with a "Berichtigte Voranmeldung". Meaning you send a new, correct one for the same month. There has to be a possibility to choose the option "Berichtigung" (correction) in your form.

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Thanks!!

 

I filled out the form again and I'm hoping I put my 320 euros in earnings in the right place: "Übrige nicht steuerbare Umsätze (Leistungsort nicht

im Inland)" box 45. I have a history of monthly VAT filings from my tax adviser for the past two years, so I'm hoping there's a track record there and I'm not asked to prove anything again.

 

Well, I certainly do pay plenty of taxes ... at the end of the year filing. I've been told that since I write for American publications not available in Europe, it's a work product not used in Germany ... or something like that.

 

I don’t' want to turn this into a rant on tax advisers, there's plenty of that around, but I've just been screwed by three so far. The one I'm going with next is the first that's a personal recommendation, so I'm hoping it works out this time.

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The Finanzamt can get very strict, if someone claims he doesnt need to pay taxes.

 

Declaring an income but with no VAT is one of Finanzamt's obvious "flags" of course. You might expect them to ask you to substantiate your basis for not paying and VAT. I work on the basis that VAT compliance is probably the aspect they take the most seriously.

 

This is no big deal as a process - there are a variety of perfectly acceptable reasons - but it is logical to be expected by FA to justify it.

 

I'd say it's not the past returns you need to have to hand if needed. "But you said it was OK last time" is not relevant. For a start, they may just have rubber-stamped it. And even if they have not caught something in the past, they can still retrospectively change it and ask you to back pay.

 

Rather, it's references to relevant legislation / rules that you have used as the basis for saying no VAT applies that you can quote back to FA. That's how I deal with it and it has always worked.

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Okay, so, if one has entered a VAT declaration with incorrect information, what's next. Can it be deleted in Elster or must I contact the Ampt?

 

Don't worry, we've all of us made mistakes when filling in tax forms and since it's so common the Finanzamt has foreseen the need for following up with corrections.

 

As Freising said, you simply send another Umsatzsteuervoranmeldung which you fill in correctly this time and in which you also mark field 10. Field 10 is next to the words "Berichtigte Anmeldung" = "corrected VAT announcement":

 

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From what you describe, you sound to be in my scenario 2, i.e. you don't have to pay VAT on your income but you can deduct VAT for your expenses.

But as Freising says, you had better have enough supporting documents, the Finanzamt hates to not get VAT.

This would mean that VAT-wise you just fill in field 66 in your Umsatzsteuervoranmeldungen, and since you will then "owe" negative VAT, i.e. the Finanzamt has to reimburse VAT every month, after about a year of these monthly announcements the Finanzamt normally gets wise and prefers to put you on a yearly rota, i.e. no more monthly announcements and just the Umsatzsteuererklärung within your yearly tax return. Because in such cases, when they have to pay you, they prefer to let as much time expire as possible until they reimburse you.

 

Ask those old tax advisors of yours to send you a copy of your previous tax returns, that way you will know exactly in which fields in the tax forms they filled in what and you'll have an example for your next tax return for 2010 (which you have to submit until 31. May 2011). Since by German law you are anyway ultimately responsible for what they filled in, it's best to know.

 

Edit: with 320€ a month earnings in January 2011 I'm starting to think Kleinunternehmer again. Did you earn more than 17,500€ in 2010 and expect to earn more than 50,000€ in 2011?

If not, then you're a Kleinunternehmer and a much more simple case for the Finanzamt and tax advisor, since you can choose not to charge VAT anyway (this also means you can't get any back, but with 50€ a month that you get back on VAT and 50€ a month the tax advisor costs to do the Umsatzsteuervoranmeldung, you don't really turn a profit there).

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Does anyone know if writing services rendered in Germany and delivered to clients in the UK should be charged VAT? I was under the impression that VAT is not chargeable in this scenario, but its difficult to get a straight answer.

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Writing services as in typing handwritten or recorded (by someone else) texts into a computer:

1. If your client is a private person:

you have to charge 19% german VAT.

 

2. If your client is a EU company with a VAT-ID number:

you wouldnt have to charge VAT in germany. Instead you would write "Reverse Charge" on your invoice, implying that the UK client would have to take care of the UK VAT himself. You would have to mention your revenue in line 41 ("Nicht steuerbare sonstige Leistungen gem §18b Nr.2 UStG") field 21 of your (probably) monthly UST-Voranmeldung. You would also have to fill out a quarterly "Zusammenfassende Meldung" where you mention your UK clients, their VAT-ID number and the total revenue.

 

3. If they dont have a VAT-ID number... ask them to get one.

 

... but I could be wrong and my mistake could cost you money - this is why you should ask a tax advisor and pay him for his advice.

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Can't really help with the problem but it still makes me laugh they call it 'Elster' or magpie - a thieving little bird that will take the food out of your mouth!

At least they titled it (what the web site does) correctly.

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Writing services as in typing handwritten or recorded (by someone else) texts into a computer:

1. If your client is a private person:

you have to charge 19% german VAT.

 

2. If your client is a EU company with a VAT-ID number:

you wouldnt have to charge VAT in germany. Instead you would write "Reverse Charge" on your invoice, implying that the UK client would have to take care of the UK VAT himself. You would have to mention your revenue in line 41 ("Nicht steuerbare sonstige Leistungen gem §18b Nr.2 UStG") field 21 of your (probably) monthly UST-Voranmeldung. You would also have to fill out a quarterly "Zusammenfassende Meldung" where you mention your UK clients, their VAT-ID number and the total revenue.

 

3. If they dont have a VAT-ID number... ask them to get one.

 

... but I could be wrong and my mistake could cost you money - this is why you should ask a tax advisor and pay him for his advice.

 

Thanks. Thats exactly what I'm doing currently, but I'll ask my advisor too when I select one.

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