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Notes on the document retention requirement and recommendations for document submission

Due to the change from the document submission obligation to the document retention obligation, there are currently still uncertainties in dealing with documents.

Your tax return is largely processed electronically and paperless. In principle, you should therefore not initially submit any vouchers when filing your tax return and should only submit them in individual cases if requested to do so by the tax authorities.

The following information sheet is intended to assist you in dealing with receipts. It lists circumstances in which the tax office is likely to request supporting documents and in which, as an exception, submitting them with the tax return may optimise the procedure

Leaflet Notes on the document retention obligation and recommendations for document submission

With the entry into force of the Act on the Modernisation of the Taxation Procedure (Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Besteuerungsverfahrens), since the 2017 assessment period the so-called document retention obligation has predominantly applied to tax returns, i.e. documents no longer have to be submitted with the tax return, but must be retained for possible document requests. The extent of the voucher requirement is at the discretion of the respective processor and is therefore a case-by-case decision.

By presenting the facts in the tax return in as complete, concrete and meaningful a manner as possible, the need for voucher requests by the tax offices is reduced to a minimum. The (optional) breakdown options provided for in ELStER should therefore primarily be used.

As these are not (yet) available in all areas of the tax return, a supplementary explanation in the form of statements or supporting documents can be procedurally optimising.

As a general rule, the more significant the tax issue, the more sensible it is to submit the document immediately, as the requirements for document submission increase with tax significance.

A tax issue is generally significant if it is

  • it is new, first-time or one-time,
  • represents an exceptional (business) event
  • it changes significantly compared to the previous year, or
  • it has a significant tax impact.

Significantmatters with an actual tax impact may include, for example:

  • Cover sheet
    • Disability
    • Long-term care allowance
    • First payment of pensions or permanent charges
    • Extraordinary burden (e.g. expenses for a nursing home, alternative medical treatment)
  • Attachment Maintenance
    • Payments of foreign maintenance
  • Attachment N
    • Deviating taxation of the use of a company car
    • Home office (explanation usually sufficient)
  • Annex G/S/L
    • Giving up/disposing of a business (explanation of the determination of profits, in the case of giving up a business, if necessary, expert opinion on market values)
    • § 17 EStG transactions
  • Annex KAP
    • Application for loss offsetting
  • Annex V
    • First-time letting
    • New depreciation series (explanation usually sufficient)
    • Increased depreciation
  • Attachment Child
    • First-time school fees

Foreign circumstances:

  • Schedules AUS, N-AUS, N-Gre
  • Foreign income
  • Application for unlimited tax liability according to § 1 para. 3 EStG

The recommendations only serve to reduce the number of requests. Requests for additional documents remain at the discretion of the tax offices. The recommendations themselves do not result in any new obligations to submit supporting documents. It should also be noted that these recommendations do not constitute instructions for the tax offices on how to request supporting documents.

The Oberfinanzdirektion Karlsruhe also points out that donation receipts are currently being requested more frequently when donations are claimed.

Leaflet as pdf

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