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Which submission deadlines apply to the advance VAT return and the annual VAT return? What needs to be taken into account when submitting the return electronically?

If you carry out a business activity, you must always submit an advance VAT return electronically to the tax office for each month or quarter that has elapsed. In addition, a VAT return is required for the calendar year. If you apply the small business regulation (§ 19 Umsatzsteuergesetz - UStG), you are exempt from submitting advance VAT returns and the annual return.

The submission period for the advance VAT returns in the current year is regularly determined by the amount of the previous year's tax. The following rules apply, among others:

  • If your turnover tax for the previous calendar year amounted to more than € 7,500, you must submit monthly advance turnover tax returns in the current year.
  • If your previous year's tax did not exceed € 1,000, the tax office can exempt you from submitting advance VAT returns.
  • If there was a surplus in your favour of more than € 7,500 for the previous calendar year, you can choose the calendar month as the advance return period instead of the calendar quarter.

If you start your business activity for the first time, the advance return period is determined according to the
anticipated tax in the year of foundation. To do this, you must determine the expected VAT payment burden or the expected input tax surplus in the year of the new start-up as part of a forecast. If the tax is expected to be more than € 7,500, the calendar month is the advance return period. If it is not expected to be more than € 7,500, the advance return must be submitted quarterly. If the surplus for the current calendar year is expected to be more than € 7,500, you can choose the calendar month as the advance return period instead of the calendar quarter.

You must submit the advance return electronically to the tax office no later than the 10th day after the end of the advance return period (quarter, month).

Upon request, the tax office can extend the deadline for submitting the advance return and for paying the advance payments (so-called extension of the standing deadline). In this case, the submission and payment deadline is postponed by one month, e.g. from 10 February to 10 March. If you are obliged to submit monthly advance returns, you must pay a so-called special advance payment to the tax office in order to receive the extension of the standing period.

In addition, you must submit an annual VAT return to the tax office for the past calendar year by 31 July of the following year. If you commission a tax advisor to prepare the annual VAT return, this deadline is extended to 28/29 February of the year after next. Due to the exceptional situation caused by the Corona pandemic, the filing deadlines for 2020 have been extended by three months. You must therefore submit your VAT return for 2020 by 31.10.2021. If you use a tax advisor, you have until 31.05.2022.

You must calculate the tax yourself in both the advance VAT return and the annual return and pay it without being asked. For sales tax, the principle of self-declaration applies. This means that the sales tax is automatically assessed and due on the basis of the information you provide. The tax office only assesses the tax by means of a tax assessment notice if it deviates from the declared amounts.

There is a general obligation to submit all VAT declarations electronically. You must therefore

  • the advance return for tax on sales/purchases,
  • the application for a permanent deadline extension/the application for a special advance payment, and
  • the sales tax return

authenticated electronically to the tax authorities.

Please note that electronic transmission must be authenticated. To do this, you need an electronic certificate, which you can obtain at For security reasons, registration involves several steps and includes sending registration data by post. In order to ensure that the pre-registrations are sent on time, it is advisable to register in good time.

Only in justified cases of hardship can the competent tax office exceptionally waive electronic transmission (Section 150 (8) of the German Fiscal Code - AO - in conjunction with Section 18 (1) sentence 2 UStG). You must apply to the tax office in writing to take advantage of the hardship regulation and explain the reasons why electronic transmission is not reasonable for you. Only if the tax office complies with your request is transmission in paper form permissible.


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