Saturday, May 30, 2009
The general tax information form
The general tax information form, 2008ESt1A, has 4 pages.
The Anlage N, 2008AnIN, is only 3 pages. And since I didn't have anything to write-off: no car, no business trips, no home office, no double households, I really just filled out half of the first page.
I found the Anlage N quite easy to fill out. To make things simple, Anlage N refers to specific lines on your tax statement / Lohnsteuerbescheinigung, which is the equivalent of the American W-2 form.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Verdienstabrechnung = salary statement
Bruttogehalt = gross salary
Gesamtbrutto = gross total
Steuerbrutto, laufende Bezuege = gross tax / regular pay
Lohnsteuer aus monatlichen Bezuegen = monthly salary tax
Solidaritaetszuschlag = solidarity charges for rebuilding East Germany
Rentenversicherungsbrutto = gross pension insurance; amount of your salary that is used for the rest of the calculations related to your insurance
Rentenversicherung = pension insurance fund
Arbeitslosenversicherung = unemployment insurance
Freiwillige Krankenversicherung = health insurance
Freiwillige Pflegeversicherung = longterm care insurance
Auszahlungsbetrag = what you put in your pocket
Anlage AUS = tax form for foreign income declaration
Anlage N = salary income in Germany
Saturday, April 4, 2009
But in case they don't help me, I plan to ask for help at two local tax help groups: the Lohnsteuer-Beratung Berlin or the Lohnsteuerhilfe Berlin-Brandenburg.
The Lohnsteuer-Beratung Berlin has online information in English and, according to Toytown's boards, has English-speaking tax preparers. The flat cost is 92.33 € a year and 12.67 € entrance fee for the first year, so the total for this year's tax return would be 105 €.
The Lohnsteuerhilfe Berlin-Brandenburg only has information in German on its website, but the cost seems to be on an attractively-priced sliding scale. Since I only worked in Germany since August, my 2008 taxable income is quite low, and the cost for me would be 56 euros + 8 euros for the entrance fee, so the total would be 64 euros...unless they include the money I made in the US for 2008...
After my visit to the Finanzamt, I will first try ELSTER with an online translation tool before asking for professional help.
Today I finally filed my taxes after two weeks of research and playing around with Turbo Tax. After this, I feel like I could be a tax preparer!
In my personal case, filing the the foreign tax credit, Form 1116, would have given me a tax liablity, whereas filing the foreign income exclusion, Form 2555, I got a small refund. So try it both ways! Even though the general wisdom I have seen is that the foreign income exclusion usually lessens your tax liability than the foreign tax credit.
I found a great great article from a professional tax expert about the Foreign Tax Credit. He explains the form in simple terms, using an example to fill it out. The site on which I found it is ACA, American Citizens Abroad, and they have a host of practical articles on taxes and other bureaucracy.
Now I just have to prepare my German taxes!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
One of the documents you need to rent an apartment is the mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung from your last landlord, proving that you paid your rent on time.
Instead of buying a standard form from a stationery store (as shown above), ask your landlord to copy my example below and fill in the blanks as they apply to your case:
Betreff: Bescheinigung zur Mietschuldenfreiheit
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
hiermit bestätige ich, dass your name ab dem day. month year an der o.g. Adresse gewohnt hat und regelmäßig pünktlich den Mietzins vollständig entrichtet hat.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Yes, German bureaucracy, I will fill it out!
They will open my account immediately, and I should receive my cards and passwords in the mail in a week. So opening an online checking account with Comdirect has taken me approximately a month and a half. Of course, it took me a while to gather all my documents to fax them. But still, it was not as easy as applying for an America-based online checking account, which takes all of 20 minutes.
Hopefully, everything goes well, and I still get my sign-up bonus!
Monday, February 9, 2009
If the German tax I pay is more than the American tax I should have paid, then that excess could be credited back against my American tax payment (for example, when I move back to the States).
If I were single and had gross income of less than $8200, then I am not required to file, no matter where I lived.
Unfortunately, I make a bit more than that. So I should file the 1040, then claim a credit / deduction for my German income tax paid via the foreign tax credit form. I think.
To get more clarity, I ordered Publication 54, Tax Guide for US Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, from the IRS. Free delivery to Germany!