German Tax Return 2015 – Steuererklärung

19 Jan

I thought I would quickly document my experience of completing my first German Tax Return while it is still fresh in my mind.

I am not giving anyone financial advice, but simply explaining my experience.

My situation is very simple as I had the one job in 2015, I did not work freelance, I do not have income to declare from another country, I have no disabilities, I receive no payments from the Government, I made no tax deductions for work related expenses and I am single with no children.

Now firstly I received a Lohnsteuerbescheinigung from my employer relating to the year 2015. You need the information on this in order to complete your tax return.

I was hoping to use ‘ELSTER’ a program you can download online and fill out to lodge a tax return. I think you can even change the language to english which would make things easier BUT I went online to get this program, was assigned a log in number and was then informed that the password to log in would be POSTED to me (arriving in 1-2 weeks). I needed to get this done asap so this option wasn’t for me.

I decide to go the old school way of filing a Tax Return with pen and paper.

I downloaded the following 3 forms (all in German) online from: or you can also pick up these forms from your local Finanzamt.

ESt 1A 2015 (Mantelbogen_2015)  – Where you give general details about yourself.

Please note your ‘Steer nummer’ is your Personlicher Identifikation number.

I gave details for my Australian bank account as I just recently closed my German one.

IBAN, ACCOUNT NUMBER, SWIFT CODE, ADDRESS OF BANK ASSOCIATED WITH THE SWIFT CODE (not the address of the bank branch you signed up with).

Anlage N_2015 –  Where you give details relating to your income from the Lohnsteuerbescheinigung form and details of where you worked.

Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand_2015 –  Where you give details of your insurances also provided on the Lohnsteuerbescheinigung form.

For this form anywhere you see ‘lt. Nr. ##’  you look up the number on your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung form from your employer and write the corresponding number on your form.


To help when filling out the above 3 forms I used the below guide, although it might be out of date or for the online forms in ELSTER only as a lot of the ‘lines’ didn’t match up correctly with my printed forms.

I also used Google Translate where necessary.


I had printed these forms, signed and dated as required and completed them to my best knowledge. Today (January 13 2016) I went to the Neukölln Finanzamt on Thiemannstraße 1, 12059 Berlin for the first time. Their hours were 8:00-15:00. I arrived around 13:00 to walk in, collect a waiting number from the machine, sit for less than 5 minutes waiting and then walked into the assigned room with my forms all ready. I explained that I was from Australia, needed help with my Tax Return and was moving to Australia permanently the very next day.

The man was extremely helpful and even spoke some English with me. He went through my forms to check all the required information was on it. He wasn’t sure if the refund could be paid to an Australian bank account and called 2 colleagues just to confirm. He also confirmed what bank account details were required. He asked me to write down my address in Australia as they will send a confirmation letter to me there. He said the payment will take longer to go through and I should expect to receive it in 3-4 months.

I asked if I was entitled to get any of my social security payments back relating to the pension etc. considering I am not a permanent citizen of Germany. The man didn’t seem to understand my question and was saying I will only get back the tax I paid if they took too much tax in 2015. For me this will be roughly 100-200 euro. If you have any info about getting other social payments back from Germany please let me know.

First German Tax Return done and dusted, woohoo!


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