German tax platform Elster buckles as property owners submit declarations

The Local Germany
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German tax platform Elster buckles as property owners submit declarations
Homes in Nierstein, Rhineland-Palatinate. Property owners have to submit a tax declaration by January 31st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Silas Stein

The German online tax platform Elster has broken down due to a flood of users having to submit a property tax declaration under new rules.


Since July 1st, people who own property in Germany have had to submit a new declaration to the tax office on their property’s value.

However, the Elster website, which allows people in Germany to file their tax returns electronically, is unable to cope with the rush.

"Due to enormous interest in the forms for the property tax reform, there are currently restrictions in availability," a notice on the Elster site said on Sunday evening and Monday. "We are already working hard to provide you with the usual quality as soon as possible."

The Elster app is also experiencing technical difficulties. 

The technical problems affect other people in Germany who use Elster to submit their general tax declaration. The platform – which stands for ELektronische STeuerERklärung – was developed by the Finanzamt to make the process simpler.

Why do property owners have to submit tax declarations?

In 2018, Germany’s highest court declared the country’s current laws on property tax (known as Grundsteuer) unconstitutional, partly because the property values currently used to calculate what an owner owes are out of date.


The constitutional court gave the government until the end of 2019 to come up with a new way of calculating the tax for Germany’s 36 million properties.

So now owners are being asked to send in new declarations, based on values as of January 1st 2022.

READ ALSO: Explained - The German property tax declaration owners need to know about

Property owners have been given from July 1st until the end of October 2022 to submit a tax return with data such as the plot number, year of construction, living space and standard land value.

Depending on the federal state, different information may be required because the states have differing calculation models.

The tax office will then use those declarations to determine what new tax rates owners will have to pay for their properties. Although they may end up having to bear some of costs of higher property tax later, tenants don’t have to declare anything at the moment.

Flat owners may have to pay hundreds of extra euros a year, while owners of larger apartment buildings, could face a four-digit sum.

Property owners will probably not know how much they will ultimately have to pay until 2025, because the property tax value calculated from their data is only one component in the calculation of property tax - and the municipalities can adjust their assessment rates and thus determine how much they will have to pay.

The site has been set up to help provide information to owners. 


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