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Under what conditions do I have to file an income tax return as an employee?

In the case of employees for whom wage tax is to be withheld, an assessment is only carried out under certain conditions, including if

  • You receive other income, which is not wage income, of more than € 410 in addition to your wages. If you receive investment income for which no capital gains tax has been withheld, you are always required to file a tax return.
  • You receive wage replacement benefits subject to the progression proviso of more than € 410 (e.g. unemployment benefit, parental benefit, sickness benefit, short-time allowance, compensation for loss of earnings or insolvency benefit).
  • You have the tax class combination III/V or IV/IV with factor and both spouses/life partners draw wages.
  • an allowance has been taken into account for you when deducting income tax and your wages exceed €11,900 in 2020 or €12,250 in 2021 (€22,600 in 2020 or €23,250 in 2021 for spouses/life partners).
  • You receive wages from several employers at the same time.
  • You have other positive income in addition to the tax-free income from a marginal employment relationship.
  • You apply for assessment, in particular to offset wage tax and capital gains tax against income tax.
  • one of the spouses/life partners applies for individual assessment.
  • upon application, a loss from income other than that from employment is to be taken into account or a loss carried forward from the previous year has been determined.
  • You wish to apply for the tax reduction for extraordinary income.


You can also find more information in the annual public invitation to file tax returns (tax form ESt 1).

It is best to file your income tax return electronically via ELSTER and use the pre-filled tax return. The electronic input help will assist you in completing it.


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