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How do I file my income tax return with the IRS?

It is best to submit your income tax return electronically to your local tax office. The tax office in whose district you live is responsible for you.

You have the option of submitting your tax return electronically using authentication. You authenticate yourself by means of the ELSTER certificate. It has the function of an electronic signature and guarantees the

  • Confidentiality,
  • Identity of the sender and
  • Inalterability of the content

of the sent data.

To obtain a certificate, you must register in the ELSTER online portal. This requires several steps (e.g. sending the registration data, sending a confirmation e-mail through the ELSTEROnline portal, sending the activation code by post). You should therefore register in good time so that you can prepare and submit your tax return on time.

If you have registered with the ELSTEROnline portal, you can also take advantage of the pre-filled tax return. For this purpose, the tax administration will provide you with the following personal data and documents:

  • Wage tax certificates sent by your employer,
  • Notifications of receipt of pension benefits,
  • Contributions to health and long-term care insurance
  • Pension expenses (e.g. Riester or Rürup contracts).

If you have registered for document retrieval, you can automatically transfer this data when preparing your income tax return.

You must file your income tax return electronically if you earn or have an interest in the following income:

  • Income from trade or business,
  • Income from self-employment or
  • Income from agriculture and forestry

This applies irrespective of the type of profit determination for the EÜR (income statement), the balance sheet and the entire income tax return.

If you are not obliged to file your income tax return electronically, you can also file your written income tax return using the official form at the competent tax office at your place of residence. In this case, please sign your income tax return in person and send it by post to the relevant tax office or hand it in personally. You can obtain paper forms from your tax office or on the Internet


Information on ELSTER

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