Short-time work, home office, retirees – nine big mistakes

Tenants cannot deduct additional costs? Who is married pays less tax? – Myths like this persist. We clean up with the most common.

Filing the tax return is a chore for many. This is also due to the fact that there is often a lack of knowledge about it. No wonder there are some errors.

In times of Corona, a few new myths have also been added. Short-time work, home office flat-rate – some things are new about taxes and still confusing for many. We reveal the biggest mistakes about tax returns – and what’s really true.

1. Short-time workers have to pay taxes

Yes and no. “There are many cases in which an additional payment is due – but there are also conditions that lead to a repayment on the part of the tax office,” says Dennis Konrad, managing director of the tax service “ExpressTax”.

The latter is usually the case if you received short-time work benefits only for a few months, but were fully employed for the rest of the year. If, on the other hand, you received the benefit in addition to your salary, you often have to pay later.

This is possible because the tax-free short-time work allowance increases the tax rate for the rest of the taxable income. However, employers are not allowed to take this into account in the monthly wage tax deduction and may therefore pass too little tax on to the tax office. That will then get the rest back with the tax return.

Basically: “If you received at least 410 euros short-time work allowance in the year, you are obliged to submit a tax return in the following year,” says Konrad. You can tell whether you have to pay additional taxes this calculator check.

2. The home office flat rate brings me 600 euros

No. You can include the home office flat rate of 5 euros per day in your tax return for a maximum of 120 days. “That is 600 euros, but you will only receive a refund if you exceed the flat-rate income allowance of 1,000 euros,” explains Konrad.

3. The tax office always only wants my money

No. The tax office only manages all tax information. Some people have to pay extra, others get a refund. On average, the repayment amounts to more than 1,000 euros. So it can be worthwhile to make your tax return, even if you are not obliged to do so.

4. Tenants cannot deduct additional costs

That is also not true. Tenants can claim ancillary costs such as house cleaning, winter services or garbage disposal as so-called household-related services. This is indicated by the United Wage Tax Aid (VLH). The exact amount of your ancillary costs can be found in the utility bill, which you should receive once a year.

5. Pensioners only have to declare their taxes on request

That’s not true. Every pensioner has to find out for himself whether he is taxable or not. If you do not do that and fail to file a tax return, although you should have done it, you will receive mail from the tax office – and there is a risk of late fees and penalties.

The tax office only requests a tax return if the taxable part of your annual gross pension is above the basic tax allowance. This is 9,408 euros for 2020. Since 2005, pensioners have had to pay tax on an ever larger part of their pension. How much depends on the year of retirement.

Those who retired in 2005 and earlier have to pay tax on 50 percent of their pension, from 2020 it will be 80 percent and from 2040 every pensioner will have to pay 100 percent tax on their pension. Lawsuits are currently being brought against pension taxation. Read here when a judgment should be made.

6. Submit a tax return once – always submit a tax return

Not correct. You can only be required to file a tax return if, for example, you have received wage replacement benefits such as unemployment benefits or short-time work benefits or had two jobs at the same time.

“In these cases you should rather proactively prepare a tax return before you run the risk of getting caught and having to pay interest,” says tax expert Konrad.

7. Married people pay less tax

Yes and no. The classic among tax-saving tips only works if one of the partners earns significantly more than the other. “Then considerable annual savings are possible,” says Konrad. “If they both earn about the same amount, don’t expect a high reimbursement to start their honeymoon.”

8. The tax office is always right

No. You should definitely check your tax assessment, as errors may well have crept in. If you notice something, you have four weeks to file an objection. Read here how to appeal your tax assessment.

9. The deadline for my declaration has already expired

Many taxpayers have more time than they think. Because only those who are obliged to submit a tax return must submit it by July 31 of the following year. Everyone else has four years, students even seven.

Anyone who was on short-time work in 2020 and has to prepare a tax return for the first time should take advantage of the fact that they can also apply the past four years.

“If you offset the current declaration with the reimbursements from previous years, the potential additional payment usually turns into a repayment,” explains Konrad.


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