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Taxes For Members

EXPLAINED: The best apps to help you track your German taxes

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: The best apps to help you track your German taxes
Several software apps can simplify your German taxes. Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Like much of the country's bureaucracy, German tax law is complicated. But there are plenty of useful deductions for those in the know. Here are a few apps that might help you stay ahead of it.

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Whether it's helping you to not fall afoul of German tax authorities, spot all your possible deductions, or to get support in English, the right tax app can save you a lot of headaches when filing your German taxes.

ELSTER may be available in English, but it won't necessarily help you do all those. Hiring a professional tax advisor is always an option, but they can come with fees running into the thousands of euros per year - which go up the more you earn.

So which apps should you consider? Well as with many things in Germany - it depends a bit on your situation. Many tax apps here are designed either for employees specifically or are tailored to freelancers and the self-employed. Which one you are will have a lot of influence on your available choices.

READ ALSO: Germany's official online tax portal is now available in English

Apps for employees

Even though your tax and social insurance contributions automatically come off your payslip every month and employees don't technically have to file a tax return - there are some years when it makes sense to file one.

This happens when you think you have enough deductions to get a decent refund - or if you have to declare certain income like capital gains or inheritance.

The good news though is that tax apps for employees tend to be more straightforward and come with fewer fees.

Apps specifically designed for employees, which have information in English, include Wundertax, Taxfix, and SteuerGo. In addition to English and German, some of these apps, like SteuerGo - have additional languages like Romanian or Polish.

These apps have a fairly standard rate of around €35 per tax return. Some even have reduced bulk rates if you decide to do more than one tax return with them.

For this, you'll typically get some support - although very specific and complicated cases may still leave you reaching for the phone to call a professional tax advisor.

You'll also get the functionality to add proofs of your expenses as needed, checks to see if you've claimed everything you can, and simplified electronic submission to the tax office.

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

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Apps for freelancers and the self-employed

Freelancers and the self-employed are not only required to file annual tax returns - but have far more complicated declarations.

Typically, they must charge, claim, and pay VAT - and are eligible for a host of additional deductions that employees aren't able to claim. Those who have clients based elsewhere in the EU often also have to file additional paperwork.

That's why apps made for freelancers in Germany are typically more sophisticated and come with more support. They also cost more, but are still a lot cheaper, however, than paying a professional tax advisor.

Apps specifically designed for the self-employed in Germany that are available in English include Accountable and Sorted. German alternatives include apps like FastBill and LexOffice.

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The top of the line professional plans on these apps typically come with a tax-deductible price tag of €20 a month. Some, however, may offer a discounted plan if you're a Kleinunternehmer, or a firm with less than €22,000 a year in revenue.

Others have free starter versions for people just beginning their businesses.

Other services and functionality can differ greatly. Some apps will help you create invoices. Others will offer you professional tax advice one-on-one for an additional hourly fee. It's best to shop around with some of these to find the one that best matches your needs as a freelancer.

READ ALSO: Can I have a freelance side gig as an employee in Germany?

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