In Germany, you can claim your donations or membership fees as special expenses for tax purposes if the tax office recognises the non-profit status of the recipient of the donation.
You can deduct donations of money, goods or time. Whether you are volunteering in an association or helping out after a natural disaster with monetary donations - the opportunities to donate are countless and the state supports this willingness to help under certain conditions.
Recipients of donations and organisations
You can only deduct your donation from your taxes if the tax office recognises the non-profit status of the organisation you are donating to and you do not receive anything in return for your donation. Associations require separate proof of non-profit status from the tax office.
Possible recipients of donations may include:
Political parties / independent voters' associations
For example, you can deduct donations to
A charitable organisation, e.g. in the fields of nature, welfare, gender, animal protection or monument conservation
A political party, e.g. SPD, CDU, LINKE, etc.
An independent political association, e.g. "Freie Wähler"
A charitable foundation, e.g. the German Environmental Foundation
Since a homeless person is not recognised by the tax office as a charitable organisation, you cannot claim your gift to them for tax purposes.
If you are a member of a charitable association that, for example, takes care of nature, welfare, animal protection or monument protection, you can also deduct the membership fee from your taxes in addition to your donation. Membership fees in recreational associations, such as a sports club or an allotment garden association, are not tax deductible.
Not only national organisations
The principle that the organisation must be based in Germany no longer necessarily applies. Under certain conditions, it is also possible to deduct donations to an organisation based abroad from tax.
To do so, the association or foundation must comply with the regulations that also apply to domestic organisations. In case of doubt, however, it is up to you to prove that the foreign organisation is also a non-profit organisation under German law.
Different types of donations
It is important to be able to prove every donation that you want to claim in your tax return.
The simplified procedure applies to donations of up to 200 euros and donations in the event of a disaster. As a rule, all you need is a deposit slip for a cash donation or your bank statement or the booking confirmation if you have made a transfer. Make sure that your name, the recipient, the account number, the date of posting, the execution of the payment and the donation amount can be seen on the posting confirmation.
For donations over 200 euros, you need a donation receipt. As this is not sent automatically by all organisations, you should request the donation receipt at the same time as you make your donation. You do not have to send the donation receipts to the tax office together with your tax return, but only when the tax office asks for them after reviewing your tax return.
Donations of goods
Donations of goods are also tax deductible, provided that the organisation to which you donate does not sell the goods for commercial purposes, such as at a bazaar or an association festival. To declare these donations in your tax return, you also need a donation receipt.
The donation amount is calculated from the value of your donation. If the product is new, the receipt is sufficient. In the case of used goods, you can research the sales value of comparable used products, for example on eBay, and document this research. The tax office is very strict about the valuation of used products.
Many organisations do not issue donation receipts for used goods or clothing, because they are liable for 30% of the certified value if the donation receipt is incorrect. This also applies if the value of the donation is overstated.
Not every donation of time will earn you a tax allowance. If you are entitled to reimbursement of expenses because of the work you have done, but waive this entitlement by issuing appropriate donation receipts, then you can deduct this amount from your tax return within the appropriate tax-free amounts. This is the so-called expense donation.
However, this claim for reimbursement of expenses must be prescribed by law. It can also be justified in the organisation's statutes or you have already made an individual written agreement with the organisation. In addition, you must have stipulated in writing within three months that you wish to waive the right to reimbursement of expenses. In addition, the recipient of your time donation must have been economically capable of fulfilling the obligation at that time.
Up to what amount can I deduct donations?
You can deduct donations of up to 20% of your total income as special expenses.
In the case of party donations or party membership fees, a tax reduction is granted. For payments of up to 1,650 euros, half of it, that is a maximum of 825 euros per year, is deducted directly from your tax liability. If the payments were higher, you can additionally claim up to 1,650 euros as special expenses. In the case of jointly taxed partners, the maximum amount is doubled to 3,300 euros.
If you donate more than 20% of your income in one year, you can carry the tax advantage over to the next year as a donation carryforward. This is determined separately by the tax office.
How do I declare donations in the Taxfix app?
In our app, you can enter your donations or membership fees in the "Finances" category. Simply follow the questions and enter the annual amounts. The app automatically takes into account the applicable maximum amounts when calculating the deduction.