Taxes For Members

Should you get a tax advisor in Germany - and how much does it cost?

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
Should you get a tax advisor in Germany - and how much does it cost?
A Steuererklärung - or German tax return - on a typewriter. Photo: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Filing your tax return in Germany can be straightforward - or a complicated nightmare. If your situation is closer to the latter, you might want to consider a tax advisor or tax assistance. Here's how to figure out which is right for you.


Not everybody living in Germany knows off the top of their head about Werbungskosten (income-related expenses), Betriebsausgaben (business expenses), Sonderausgaben (special expenses) or außergewöhnliche Belastungen (extraordinary burdens). 

So it comes as little surprise that both employees and freelancers toy with the idea of getting a Steuerberater (tax advisor) to figure all these out for them - and in the best case scenario save a bit of cash, even after deducting what the advisor charges.

And there’s another big benefit too: Those who seek the help of a tax advisor have (much) longer to submit their Steuererklärung (tax return). For the 2023 tax year, the deadline with an advisor isn't until May 31st, 2025. But self-filers need to submit their returns by Monday, September 2nd, 2024.


But do you still need a tax advisor?

Most employees with “just” one job and no additional sources of income - or complicated potential tax deductions - don’t really need a tax advisor. They can usually fill out their tax return themselves quite easily, especially with Germany's official tax filing program Elster, or a slew of free filing apps like Taxfix.

Germany's electronic tax-filing portal, Elster

Germany's electronic tax-filing portal, Elster. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

Employees don’t even need to file a return at all - but it’s still advisable to do so as most can get upwards of €1,000 back on their return for day-to-day expenses. 

READ ALSO: The top tax deductions often overlooked by employees in Germany

In some cases, though, it might be a smarter move to pass your return onto a Steuerberater. This holds especially true if you have had different types of income, for example from self-employment, from foreign capital gains, or from renting and leasing. Very special cases also require the knowledge of a tax expert.

These include employees who work abroad (even partially), cross-border commuters with residence in Germany and place of work in a neighbouring country or inheritance cases. Even installing your own solar panels on your roof can complicate a tax return.


What alternatives are there to a tax advisor?

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to a Steuerberater, you can turn to the Lohnsteuerhilfe (income tax help). They advise employees, pensioners and retirees. The prerequisite is membership in an income tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein). This costs about €150 per year on average, but around €100 is deductible as tax consultancy costs.

The association prepares the tax return, sends it to the tax office and also takes care of any further correspondence with the authorities. Lohnsteuerhilfe also provides support in the event of an appeal against the final tax assessment or any lawsuits which arise as a result.

The Lohnsteuerhilfe is allowed to give advice if it concerns income from non-self-employed work, pensions and annuities and/or maintenance payments

Freelancers and most tradespeople are usually excluded, and will in turn need to seek the assistance of a Steuerberater if they don’t want to (or can’t) file on their own.

What does a Steuerberater do exactly?

Tax advisors support employees, self-employed people and companies in their tax affairs. They of course prepare income tax returns but their long list of services might include calculating and advising on social security contributions, creating an annual balance sheet and payroll accounting.


How do I find a good tax advisor?

One way to find the right tax advisor is to gather recommendations from colleagues or friends. Further information can be found on the websites of the firms. Are there already tax tips or videos with useful content? Are the qualifications of the staff presented transparently? But just like with a menu at a super fancy restaurant: information on costs can rarely be found.

In any case, an initial phone call will help, because - in addition to the qualifications - the chemistry should be right. Explain your personal situation and your expectations, and it will usually be clear after an initial chat if they're qualified to help.

A calculator next to a tax return form.

A calculator next to a tax return form. Many people can get money back from submitting a tax return. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Oliver Berg

Some tax advisors have specialised in certain professional groups and are particularly fit in this area. These can be farmers, craftsmen, freelancers or medical professions. Others have specialised in particular legal forms such as cooperatives, are experts in inheritances and gifts or in international tax law.

READ ALSO: Reader Question: How can I find a German tax advisor?


The Federal Chamber of Tax Advisors (Bundessteuerberaterkammer) has set up a search service where specialists can be found for specific fields or by postcode. Around 15,000 firms and advisors are listed.

The tax advisor cooperative Datev also offers a search service, as does, where it's possible to plug in location and desired subject area.

What are the costs for a tax adviser?

This can vary widely depending on factors such as the complexity of your tax situation, the specific services you require, and the location and experience level of the advisor.  Generally, you can expect to fork down either an hourly rate or a flat fee for their services.

Hourly rates can range from around €100 to €300 or more, while flat fees might be negotiated based on the scope of the work.

Many give free initial consultations, including estimates of the total costs. So when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to shop around!


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also