In times of digitalisation, you no longer have to submit receipts for your tax return. In this article we explain why you should still keep receipts and documents.
- Do I have to be able to prove costs?
- When do I have to submit receipts?
- How can I prove my costs?
- How do I submit receipts to the tax office?
- In which cases does the tax office ask for receipts?
- I no longer have any receipts, what now?
- What happens if my proof is not accepted?
- How long should I keep receipts?
- What documents does the tax office already have?
Do I have to be able to prove costs?
The short answer is yes.
If you want to claim certain expenses for tax purposes, you must be able to prove them with receipts. This is the only way you can prove to the tax office that you have incurred costs and that you have paid them.
You are only exempt from this obligation if you claim certain lump sums or non-objection limits. Lump sums can be used to set fixed values for certain expenses - individual proof of the costs is then no longer necessary. You can find more information here.
When do I have to submit receipts?
You must be able to prove your costs. However, it is not necessary to submit them to the tax office without being asked. On the contrary:
💡 You only have to submit receipts if the tax office asks you to do so in writing.
It is therefore sufficient to enter your expenses in the Taxfix app when filing your tax return and to keep the receipts for possible queries. If the tax office needs certain documents for your tax return, they will contact you.
How can I prove my costs?
You can prove your costs with various forms of evidence. These can be:
- Receipts (e.g. purchase receipts, sales slips, donation receipts)
- Invoices (e.g. craftsmen's invoice)
- Contracts (e.g. sales contracts, rental agreements)
- Bank statements
- Other documents (e.g. utility bills, photos and floor plans of your home office, proof of medical treatment, etc.)
You must have the original receipts. If you have received an invoice electronically, it will be accepted if it contains all the legally required information.
How do I submit receipts to the tax office?
You can send your receipts to the tax office by post. It is usually sufficient to submit copies of the originals.
Unfortunately, electronic transmission of receipts is not yet possible with Taxfix.
In which cases does the tax office ask for receipts?
There can be many different reasons why the tax office wants to see proof of your expenses.
If you have incurred high one-off costs, for example for a professional training course, it is conceivable that you will have to provide evidence of these expenses. If you are claiming a separate study at home for the first time, it is common for the tax office to send you a questionnaire and possibly ask for supporting documents.
Depending on your individual tax case, your tax official will decide whether he or she wants to get an exact picture. This is not an unusual procedure. As a general rule, you should keep all receipts and supporting documents throughout the year. The rule is: better to keep too much than too little.
I no longer have any receipts, what now?
If you no longer have individual receipts at hand, you can try to prove the costs with a bank statement. Simply make a copy of the bank statement and mark the corresponding account withdrawals. Ideally, you should combine this with an explanation of why a receipt is not available.
You can also prove costs with the help of a so-called self-receipt. Write down which costs were incurred and when, and why you do not have a receipt. Then sign this receipt and send it to your tax office when requested. We explain more about the self-receipt here.
What happens if my proof is not accepted?
If your tax official does not accept your evidence, he or she can refuse to recognise the costs.
How long should I keep receipts?
There is no legal retention period for private individuals. However, you should not throw away your receipts as soon as you receive your tax statement - especially if it contains a provisional notice (Vorläufigkeitsvermerk). It is advisable to keep the receipts for at least four years in case any queries emerge.
🚨 Please note: If you are self-employed, run a business or earn more than 500,000 euro per year, retention periods of between six and ten years apply. Note that Taxfix is currently unable to support self-employed persons and tradespeople.
What documents does the tax office already have?
Some information is usually already available to the tax office because employers and insurance providers report it automatically. This includes:
- Information on the receipt of wage replacement benefits (e.g. unemployment benefit, short-time allowance, parental allowance)
- Annual payroll
- Certificates of pension contributions made (e.g. Riester pension)
- Health insurance certificates