Expenses or Personal Deductions (Sonderausgaben)

Personal deductions or German Sonderausgaben also decrease your tax burden.

My youngest child just turned 18 and still needs my support since he is only getting a tiny compensation as a student. Is that still deductible?

Yes, the support for youngsters between 18 and 21 counts as a deductible – but only exceptionally. Normally only minors make you eligible for child exemptions. However, € 7,680 will be the most that you can deduct. 

What do I have to show to be eligible for child exemptions?

You will have to show that the child be registered for “seeking work” at your local labor agency (Agentur für Arbeit) and is not employed. This goes for children up to 21, but more prerequisites are necessary if your children are older than 21 but not older than 27. Of course, only for children living in Germany.

Hold on there! My oldest child just turned 26 and is still being trained. Am I still eligible for child exempts?

Yes. Being still in vocational training qualifies for tax exemptions. The qualifying reasons are: 1.) being in vocational training, 2.) not yet having started or continued a vocational training in lack of such a position.

As an European, do I have any privileges if I’m supporting my dependents back home?

Yes, you do. Alimony for your spouse or the ex-spouse from whom you have separated is deductible even if the dependents live abroad in the EU as long as you prove the payment by brief of the foreign tax office.

How much can I deduct on my tithes and offerings to my congregation?

You can deduct up to 5% of your total income. Total income is to be understood as the sum of all sources of income (after setting off the deductibles). In respond to previous European case law, the income tax act has been adapted to accept as a Sonderausgabe donations to charitables of other European countries. When the European organisation is qualifed as a charitable by its national law, then any donation can be deducted (§52 XXIVe  EStG). Deduction will only be possible when either Germany's reputation is enhanced or persons in Germany will be supported.

I donated EUR 10,000 to the German university, where I studied. How much will I be able to deduct from my taxes?

Next to this “basic” deduction, as just described, you can deduct another 5% for your donation to a scientific institution. You can therefore deduct 10% of your total income.