This is where the tax offices work the fastest

Anyone who submitted the tax return five weeks ago will in some places already receive the notification. A new evaluation shows where the tax offices work particularly quickly – and where extremely slowly.

Some wait six months, others five weeks: How quickly you receive your tax assessment also depends on where you live. The difference between the federal states has become even greater in the past year. This is shown by the new processing check of the Federation of Taxpayers (BdSt), the results of which are available exclusively to t-online.

Accordingly, the tax offices have become faster almost everywhere despite the corona pandemic. However, the processing time between the fastest and the slowest federal state averaged 25 days in 2020 – one week more than in the previous year.

Too much, thinks the taxpayers’ association. “It must not depend on where you live when citizens and businesses receive their tax assessment and possibly get their money back,” criticized the President of the Taxpayers’ Association, Reiner Holznagel. “The federal states in the lower ranks have to make an effort and catch up.”

Berlin tax offices work the fastest

When it comes to speed, the capital is the front runner. In Berlin, the tax offices once again needed the least time to process the notifications, with an average of 37 days. Compared to 2019, they were able to shorten their processing time by three days.

Rhineland-Palatinate secured second place, followed by Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. The Thuringians had to wait the longest: their tax assessments were received after an average of 62 days – four days later than the year before.

 (Source: Heike Aßmann) (Source: Heike Aßmann)

The evaluation relates to tax returns that Germans submitted by the end of 2020 for the 2019 tax year. For its processing check, the BdSt asks the tax authorities every year how much time their officials needed from receipt of tax returns to notifications.

There have been no concrete figures from North Rhine-Westphalia for several years. The state only announced that the tax offices would need between two weeks and six months to process the declarations; for this reason, NRW does not appear in our graphic.

Corona pandemic even helped in some places

Schleswig-Holstein and Bremen improved significantly. The tax offices sent the tax assessment there on average 20 or 13 days faster than the tax return for 2018. The taxpayers’ association attributes this to increasing digitalization. The proportion of declarations that were checked completely automatically has increased slightly.

There is another explanation for the improvement in the two countries. “In 2020, corona-related employees from the field service were temporarily used as support in income tax assessment, since activities in the field service were partially restricted,” said a spokesman for the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of Finance. This means, for example, tax auditors who examined the accounting of companies on site before the pandemic.

The tax officials in Bremen also benefited from this kind of reinforcement. “At the same time, we had a stable workforce with a comparatively lower number of vacations compared to the years before the pandemic,” said a spokesman for the Senator for Finance.

Submit your 2020 tax return as early as possible

Basically, the evaluation shows: The tax assessment is usually a little faster for the rather simple tax returns of employees. Here, too, Berlin leads the field with 35 days, Thuringia brings up the rear with 62 days. Because employees receive an above-average reimbursement of an average of EUR 1,000, the BdSt is demanding rapid processing here. On the other hand, it takes a little longer for the self-employed, whose tax returns are more complicated to check.

Who wants to make sure that his Tax return for 2020 is processed quickly, it should be submitted to the tax office in spring or early summer if possible. The Taxpayers’ Association assumes that the declarations could pile up in the summer because then, in addition to the regular declarations for 2020, more declarations for the year 2019 will also arrive. These can be tax advisors because of the extended deadline namely still submit.


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