Value added tax - submitting an annual declaration or advance notification
Sales tax is often called value added tax.
- Deliveries and other services,
- the import of items from a non-EU third country (customs collects the import VAT) and
- the purchase of goods from the countries of the European Union, the Union territory, so-called intra-community purchases are subject to it.
Amount of the tax
- General tax rate: 19 percent
- Reduced tax rate: 7 percent. This applies for example to the delivery of almost all foodstuffs (with the exception of drinks and restaurant revenues) and to public transport and the delivery of books and newspapers.
- You carry out commercial or professional activities on a self-employed basis.
Any activities which are always intended to generate revenues are considered to be commercial or professional.
- All natural persons (individual persons who operate a company as defined under the German Value Added Tax Act - UStG, such as retailers, craftsmen, property owners)
- legal persons (for example AG, GmbH, co-operatives, registered associations, foundations) and
- groups of persons (for example GbR, OHG, KG)
possess the capability to be an entrepreneur.
Value added tax annual return
For each calendar year, you must send a value added tax declaration to the tax office electronically. In this, you calculate the value added tax yourself.
Should your calculation lead to an additional payment, you must pay this to the tax office within one month of submission of the annual return without the need for a request to be issued. A reimbursement sum will be set off against open tax amounts or remitted to the bank account which you have notified to the tax office. You only receive a value added tax notice if the tax office disagrees with the value added tax calculated by you.
Value added tax pre-registration
- Should the value added tax for the previous year have amounted to more than 7,500 EUR, monthly value added tax pre-registrations must be provided in the current year.
- Should the previous year's tax have amounted to no more than 1,000 EUR, the tax office can exempt you from the value added tax pre-registrations. In such a case, only one annual return needs to be submitted.
- Should a surplus have arisen in your favour amounting to more than 7,500 EUR for the previous calendar year, you can select a calendar month as the pre-registration period instead of the calendar quarter.
- Should you commence professional or commercial activities for the first time as the founder of a company, you must submit monthly value added tax pre-registrations in the year the company was founded and in the following calendar year.
You must pay the tax which you have calculated yourself.
Permanent deadline extension
The tax office can extend the deadline for the submission of the pre-registrations and payment of the advance payments by one month. In case of monthly submissions, the granting of a permanent deadline extension depends on a special advance payment being made. Should you wish to claim a permanent deadline extension in relation to the submission of the current value added tax pre-registrations, you must apply for this from the tax office in advance. Authenticated electronic submission obligation
You must submit the value added tax pre-registration and the permanent deadline extension application to the fiscal administration electronically in authenticated form.
The information you send will be authenticated by the ELSTER certificate. This certificate serves as an electronic signature and as a form of security. The certificate should ensure the confidentiality, authenticity (identity of the sender) and integrity (data content cannot be altered) of the data which is being sent.
In order to obtain the certificate, it is mandatory to register in the ELSTER online portal. The registration process consists of various steps, for example
- sending of the registration data
- sending of a confirmation email by the ELSTER online portal
- sending of the activation code (by post).
Due to the necessary processing steps, it is recommended that the registration be carried out in good time.
You can use the Elsterprogram to send the information electronically free of charge. Here, you can also find more detailed information concerning the registration process. Rules relating to difficulties
Only in exceptional cases of justifiable difficulty, will the tax office waver the electronic transfer. The claiming of difficulties must be applied for from the tax office in writing and must be explained. Should this application be accepted, a paper submission is permitted. Forms
Due to the basic obligation to carry out an electronic transfer, the templates for the value added tax pre-registration are no longer provided for printing out on paper. Only in cases of justifiable difficulty do the tax offices continue to hold paper copies.
- Value added tax annual return: by 31.05 of the following year at the latest
Should you engage the assistance of a tax advisor and should this person carry out the declaration, a generally extended deadline until 31.12 of the following year applies. Due to a new statutory regulation, from 2019, so for the first time for the submission of the 2018 tax return, the submission deadline will be put back two months (31.07 of the following year and, in case of the engagement of a tax advisor, 28/29.2 of the year after next).
- Value added tax pre-registration: at the latest by the 10th day following the expiry of the pre-registration period (month/calendar quarter).
The tax office can extend the deadline for the submission of the pre-registrations and payment of the advance payments by one month. In case of monthly submissions, the granting of this permanent deadline extension depends on a special advance payment being made. The application for a permanent deadline extension must be transferred to the tax office electronically. You can find information in this respect at www.elster.de
It may be the case that alongside the value added tax pre-registration or value added tax annual return, you are required to also submit additional documents in an individual case, such as invoices received, contracts or similar.
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Finanzministerium, represented by the Oberfinanzdirektion Karlsruhe, released it on 25.08.2017. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.