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non-employed person, no tax return received

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How do things work here for declaring income (or lack of) for tax purposes? 

My partner registered as living in Germany in 2018, but for the rest of the calendar (and presumably tax year) was non-employed. I say non-employed as there was no registration for unemployment benefits or receipt of these. There was no income (worldwide) for the entire year (living off savings). 

I was not registered as living here and we are not married or in a legal partnership so civil status was marked as single at the time of registering as living here. 

My partner has not received any tax forms to fill in for 2018 and we have had no contact with a tax office anywhere as yet. Is this entirely normal or an oversight? 

I would have expected something, but this because I'm used to a system where we've just come from where the vast majority receive and must return a tax form every year, even if there is no employment or income. 

I know that tax is deducted from a salary in Germany, but what happens to people who for a period of time have a different situation? 

 

I was in conversation with neighbours about this, who are pensioners and receive their pension free of any deductions and also have never received any forms to fill in and have never paid any tax since they arrived in Germany, which I found astonishing, as they have been here about 13 years. How the heck is this possible? Have they just been lost in the system? Is Germany a tax haven for non-employed persons? What am I missing? 

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You both have health insurance?  You are retirees with Swiss pensions?

 

Edit.  You say you are living off savings, so I guess no pension.  

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Yes, but my partner only has it since 1.1.19. My query on whether a tax form should come relates to the tax year 2018 or at least the part of that tax year when my partner was resident (1.5.18 - 31.12.18). 

My partner is classed as non-employed, is an EU citizen, is not Swiss, is not retired and has no income from any source in any country, but resident (and presumably tax-resident for all purposes) in Germany. 

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1 hour ago, lunaCH said:

My query on whether a tax form should come

 

Tax forms are NOT mailed out to residents. The tax return and all the Anlagen are available at all tax offices as well as online.

 

Quote

 

My partner is classed as non-employed, is an EU citizen, is not Swiss, is not retired and has no income from any source in any country,

 

Not even interest/capital gains on his savings?

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15 minutes ago, engelchen said:

 

Tax forms are NOT mailed out to residents. The tax return and all the Anlagen are available at all tax offices as well as online.

Not even interest/capital gains on his savings?

As far as I know, no, nothing. 

So forms aren't sent out automatically and we just wait until we are contacted for this unusual situation? I guess if there was no income in 2018 then there is no tax due, but I would have at least expected some sort of check and/or a basic fee that all residents have to pay. 

As mentioned, our neighbours have never paid a cent in tax in Germany in 13 years, yes they are retired and I know that pensions are not taxed in their entirety in Germany. Nevertheless Swiss pensions can be quite high, so I would have expected them to have to pay a few thousand each year (based on what they told me they receive), but that they have never even been contacted. They are definitely resident and have been for the whole time. No idea how they have managed to stay under the radar for so long, or does it just go on trust here and they were/are meant to declare without being asked?!

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31 minutes ago, lunaCH said:

Nevertheless Swiss pensions can be quite high, so I would have expected them to have to pay a few thousand each year (based on what they told me they receive), but that they have never even been contacted. They are definitely resident and have been for the whole time. No idea how they have managed to stay under the radar for so long, or does it just go on trust here and they were/are meant to declare without being asked?!

 

You make too many incorrect assumptions.

 

It is your responsibility to file a tax return if you are required to do so.

 

If your friends were required to file (and I don't know if they were or not) and failed to do so, when the Finanzamt catches them they will probably be required to pay a fine in addition to any taxes owed.

 

I would strongly recommend contacting @PandaMunich for professional advice.  

 

 

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From what I can gather just from brief research in the meantime as well, they are and always have been required to file and as you say it is their responsibility to file - they simply have never done this - presumably to save money. My partner on the other hand had zero income in 2018 so it seems there's no necessity to file.

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These are the rules on filing

 

https://www.steuerring.de/steuererklaerung-hilfe-news/news/wer-muss-eine-steuererklaerung-abgeben.html

 

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Generell gilt: Liegt Ihr Einkommen unterhalb des sogenannten Grundfreibetrages, dann zahlen Sie keine Steuern und müssen auch keine Steuererklärung abgeben. Im Jahr 2018 lag dieser Grundfreibetrag bei 9.000 Euro für Singles und 18.000 Euro für Verheiratete bzw. eingetragene Lebenspartner.

....

 

 

Quote

In general, if your income is below the so-called basic allowance, then you pay no taxes and do not have to submit tax returns. In 2018, this basic allowance was 9,000 euros for singles and 18,000 euros for married or registered partners.

 

(Can also apply to employees with tax class I, read the article for more details).

 

 

But don't forget that if you are resident in Germany then you worldwide income is taxable in Germany.  This means that any interest, rent income, gifts from family/friends etc., which were made in other countries are also taxable according to German tax law.  Although you might not have to pay tax on them (depending on the double taxation agreements), it might still have to be declared.

 

You should have applied for and received a tax number when you arrived in Germany.  So if you haven't got one then you should apply now.  As even to get your tax-free allowance for savings in Germany then you have to supply this number.

 

 

 

If your friends have not filed any tax returns then they might fall into one of the categories which don't need to.  Or they are breaking the law and eventually the Finanzamt will find out and they will get a fine.

Not filing to save money does not make sense.  As a lot of people are eligible for tax refunds so would actually get money back.  And it doesn't need to cost a lot of money to file taxes.  My wife buys a Tax program from Aldi/Lidl each year for ~20 euros and uses this to calculate and file our taxes.  

 

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Thank you for your help. I don't recall applying for tax numbers upon arrival. But I believe they arrived automatically. We have never used them though.

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A useful reply also back from our local office. The part concerning non-employed persons (which was my partner's case for 2018): 

 

Abgabepflichtig sind Sie auch dann, wenn Sie selbst kein Arbeitsentgelt beziehen, aber

- Ihre steuerpflichtigen Einkünfte, etwa als Rentner, über dem Grundfreibetrag liegen. 2018 sind das 9.000 Euro pro Person (2019: 9.168 Euro). 102 Euro Werbungskostenpauschale oder höhere nachweisbare Kosten erhöhen diesen Betrag; ausschlaggebend ist bei Rentnern nur der Teil der Rente, der steuerpflichtig ist;

- Ihr Ehe- oder Lebenspartner Arbeitnehmer ist und eine der oben genannten Voraussetzungen erfüllt oder

- Sie einen Verlustvortrag geltend gemacht haben.

 

Erzielen Sie keine Einkünfte aus nichtselbstständiger Arbeit besteht unter gewissen Voraussetzungen trotzdem eine Abgabepflicht für Ihre Steuererklärung. Selbstständige, Gewerbetreibende, Vermieter und Rentner müssen übrigens immer dann eine Steuererklärung machen, wenn ihr Einkommen den Grundfreibetrag übersteigt.

 

Beim Zuzug nach Deutschland fordert das Finanzamt nicht jeden Steuerpflichtigen automatisch zur Abgabe einer Steuererklärung auf. Der Steuerpflichtige selbst muss, soweit wegen den oben genannten Voraussetzungen erforderlich, eine Einkommensteuererklärung beim Finanzamt einreichen. 

 

As far as I can tell we don't need to do anything as long as any income remains between €0.-- and €9'000.-- per annum, which was my partner's case for 2018 is is highly likely to be for 2019. 

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2 hours ago, lunaCH said:

A useful reply also back from our local office. The part concerning non-employed persons (which was my partner's case for 2018): 

 

Gosh, they replied quickly.  

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