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Germany extends deadline for property tax declaration

Property owners in Germany will have three months longer to submit a tax declaration, state finance ministers revealed on Thursday.

Housing estate in Frankfurt am Main
A housing estate in Frankfurt am Main. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

The deadline for submitting the new property tax declaration will be pushed back from October 31st to January 31st, 2023. 

The decision to extend the deadline was made by the state finance ministers and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) at a meeting on Thursday. It comes after Lindner revealed that barely one in three property owners had submitted their declaration by the start of October. 

Announcing the decision, Bavaria’s Finance Minister Albert Füracker (CSU) said that the extension of the submission deadline by three months would significantly relieve the burden on citizens, the economy, and tax consultants.

Lindner also welcomed the decision, telling reporters on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund conference in Washington: “At present, there are other concerns and tasks that we have to take care of with priority.”

The FDP politician had previously argued for an extension of the deadline.

READ ALSO: Why Germany is mulling an extension to property tax deadline

Property tax reform

The reform of the currently property tax system, which is due to come into force from 2025, is one of the largest tax reforms carried out in Germany since the end of the Second World War.

The revamp was prompted by a decision from Germany’s Constitutional Court, which found that the tax rates were calculated unfairly.

Under the current system, the value of a property is calculated using records from 1935 in East Germany and from 1964 in West Germany, meaning many houses and flats are dramatically undervalued. 

Authorities must now revalue around 36 million properties using data submitted by the owners. This includes providing details such as plot size and living space, property type, construction year and the so-called standard land value via the government’s Elster tax portal.

However, experts have warned that the declaration is far too complicated for many people to fill out by themselves.

In addition, the reform has hit numerous technical snags along the way, with the Elster portal buckling under the excess traffic just days after tax authorities started accepting the property tax return. 

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RENTING

Tinder for flat seekers: How a new German app wants to revolutionise the rental market

Mietz, a new rental app, allows users to swipe right and left to be matched up with new rentals. The Local spoke to founder Lena Tuckermann about how she hopes to help international residents in Germany find their dream flats.

Tinder for flat seekers: How a new German app wants to revolutionise the rental market

After five months spent looking for a flat in Hamburg, involving 50 hours of online searching and sending 200 emails, Lena Tuckermann jokingly asked her friends: “Why isn’t there something like Tinder for flats?”

But what started as a joke quickly became a reality when she decided to build an app that functioned in a similar way to the dating app Tinder.

Along with co-founder Johann Kim, Tuckermann set up a rental app with a matching algorithm and in-app contract processing, designed to help apartment seekers and renters to find each other quickly, easily and securely. 

Mietz founders Lena Tuckermann and Johann Kim. Photo: Mietz

Apartment seekers can swipe right on rentals they like the look of and left on those not to their taste. On the other end, the renters can view the users’ profiles and, if there is a match, the two sides can start talking.

Mietz is free of charge for apartment hunters and students can use the app to find new roommates for free.

The app launched in October and already has over 6,000 users. Currently, the app has listings in Berlin and Frankfurt, but will soon be extending its roster with apartments in Braunschweig, Hamburg and Munich.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German cities where rents are rising fastest this year

‘Safety on both sides’

“Internationals are one of our main target audiences,” Tuckermann explained, as the company focuses on listing apartments with less bureaucratic requirements, which, for example, don’t require tenants to provide SCHUFA checks.

But at the same time, there is a strong emphasis on safety, and a desire to help flat hunters avoid being scammed.

“We work very closely with the companies offering the apartments, and try to create safety on both sides”, said Tuckermann.

“Most of our users are currently based in Germany, but we are working on expanding that with university partnerships around the world, to reach students looking for places to stay in Germany”.

Most of the apartments currently listed on the app are from businesses with larger apartment portfolios, but private renters can create profiles and upload listings, also for flat shares.

While the business landlords don’t swipe left and right on the faces of prospective renters, private renters and those offering rooms in a flatshare can do so.

“I think, when you’re looking for someone for a flat share, you do want to get an initial impression of a person, and pictures definitely help with that,” Tuckermann explained.

The Mietz App shows the swiping process. Photo: Mietz

Everything about the app is designed to take the pain of long, frustrating flat searching away. “You don’t have to send emails, and you only share your documents if you know the landlord is interested”, Tuckermann said.

Another part of this is the ability to sign digital contracts online, to make the sometimes lengthy rental process run more smoothly.

READ ALSO: The most expensive (and cheapest) cities in Germany to rent a room

“I spoke to one company with over 1,000 apartments, which had previously had to send their rental agreements by post – some of them to India. This meant that some people were waiting over six weeks before their contracts were finalised,” said Tuckermann.

It’s still very early days for Mietz, but the feedback so far from users has been very positive.

“We need a bit of time to get going and to be able to compete with the well-established rental portals. But the feedback we’ve had so far has been great, I think because it made the process of looking for an apartment less painful and because we try hard to match our users with suitable places to live,” said Tuckermann.  

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