Finance

Can I actually take off corona masks?

Stricter mask requirement when shopping and in public transport: The federal and state governments have sharpened the corona measures. What does this mean for employees?

The simple fabric mask has had its day in many places. On the bus, train and in the supermarket you should only wear a more protective FFP2 or a medical surgical mask. That goes into the money.

After all, both are single-use products, which you have to dispose of at the latest when they are soaked through. Many employers therefore switch to providing their employees with FFP2 masks.

But are they really free or do I have to tax them as a monetary benefit? Conversely, can I deduct the masks I have bought myself from tax? We clarify the most important questions.

Do I have to pay tax on masks from the employer?

Usually not, says Daniel Schollenberger, tax expert at Steuertipps.de. It is true that masks that are given by the employer can theoretically be interpreted as a pecuniary benefit, but: “If the masks are bought out of operational interest, then the free mask handover does not represent a pecuniary benefit.”

The experts from Buhl Data Service, makers of the Wiso control software, see it similarly. They rate masks given by the boss as a “voluntary social benefit” that is not subject to benefits in kind and is therefore not relevant for tax purposes. However, it is the employer’s responsibility to decide and it can vary depending on the profession.

However, the masks would be tax-free to a certain extent even if they were counted as benefits in kind. The exemption limit is 44 euros per month.

When is there “operational interest”?

If it is a precautionary measure that is intended to protect employees and maintain operations – as is now the case with the corona pandemic. The fact that the masks can also be used privately does not play a role in the wage tax assessment in this case, says Schollenberger.

What applies to employers in terms of tax?

If an employer buys masks for his employees, he can deduct the costs as business expenses.

Can I sell the masks I have bought myself?

Here the situation is more ambiguous. “That depends on whether the mask is used professionally or not,” says Thomas Matena, Marketing Manager at Buhl Data Service. If it is used professionally, it can be added to the advertising expenses.

Steuertipps.de expert Schollenberger, however, does not consider this to be possible. Because the mask can also be used privately, it is considered a mixed-use tool. “That means that it is not possible to properly assign which percentage is for private use and which is for professional use. This means that advertising costs are no longer used,” says Schollenberger.

He advises using the mask as an extraordinary burden instead. “Here the costs have an effect when you come over the reasonable own burden.”

Matena, in turn, restricts the fact that, according to the law, there is only an exceptional burden if the taxpayer “inevitably has higher expenses than the vast majority of taxpayers with the same income, the same financial circumstances and the same marital status”.

“Therefore, we would rather deny a general tax deduction here, since in times of a pandemic all taxpayers have to bear these expenses – the characteristic of ‘extraordinaryness’ is not given in comparison to other taxpayers,” says Matena.

Tip: Just try out one of the variants. The tax authorities then decide for themselves what to let go. By the way, in order to benefit from sales as advertising expenses, you basically have to pay more than the lump sum of 1,000 euros that is granted to you anyway.

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