From a tax perspective, there are several types of places of work that are treated differently. This is particularly important when calculating travel costs or commuting expenses. Based on the type of your place of work, a distinction is made between two different travel allowances: the distance allowance (Entfernungspauschale) and the kilometre allowance (Kilometerpauschale).
For this reason, choosing the right place of work is important. In this article you will find out which places of work there are, how the distance and kilometre allowances differ and how to make the right choice in the Taxfix app.
- Distance allowance and kilometre allowance
- What is a first place of work?
- What is a meeting point and which flat rate applies?
- What is the definition of a large area?
- Can I have more than one first place of work?
- External work/field service: the kilometre allowance
- How to enter multiple employers or work locations in the Taxfix app
- What are additional expenses for meals?
Distance allowance and kilometre allowance
The main difference between distance and kilometre allowances is the consideration of the kilometres driven. Which flat rate you can use depends on the type of your place of work.
The distance allowance (Entfernungspauschale / "Pendlerpauschale")
- For the distance allowance, only the shortest and one-way route (i.e. only the outward route) between your home and your place of work is taken into account. The distance between the two places is therefore relevant.
- For each day on which you travel to work, you can deduct 0.30 euros per kilometre of your outward journey as income-related expenses. This flat rate applies regardless of the means of transport - you can use it if you travel by car, bus, bicycle or on foot
- The distance allowance applies if your place of work is your "first place of work" (erste Tätigkeitsstätte). If the place to which you commuted is not your first place of work, then you had field work - and the flat rate per kilometre applies. It is therefore important to know what constitutes a first place of work. We will explain this in more detail below.
Example calculation for the distance allowance:
In the example, we assume that the one-way trip to work is 18 km and that we actually travelled to work on 230 days.
Travel costs = 18 km (outward journey) x 0.30 euros (flat rate) x 230 working days = 1,242 euros
By the way: Since 2021, a distance allowance of 0.35 euros applies from the 21st kilometre, and from 2022 it will increase again to 0.38 euros. However, this does not apply to the kilometre allowance.
The kilometre allowance (Kilometerpauschale)
- In contrast to the distance allowance, the kilometre or travel allowance takes into account both the outward journey and the return journey. Accordingly, you can claim all kilometres travelled for tax purposes
- The kilometre allowance is not independent of the means of transport, but only applies to motorised transport, i.e. bus and train, car, motorbike and moped. It amounts to 0.30 euros per kilometre for cars and 0.20 euros for motorbikes and mopeds
- You can use the kilometre allowance if you are working away from home - for example, if you are in the field, filling in at another branch or on a business trip. As long as the place of work you travel to is not your first place of work, you can benefit from the kilometre allowance
Example calculation for the kilometre allowance:
The kilometre allowance takes into account the outward and return journeys.
Travel costs = 18 km x 2 (outward and return journey) x 0.30 euros (flat rate) x 230 working days = 2,484 euros
What is a first place of work?
In order to know which flat rate applies to you, you must determine whether you have a first place of work and what this is.
A first place of work exists if you are employed by an employer and always work at the same, fixed workplace.
For more complex cases, three conditions have been defined that must be met for a first place of work:
Is there a fixed establishment?
This can be an office, restaurant or shop to which you regularly travel. A ship, lorry or aeroplane are not fixed and therefore do not count as a first place of work
Has your employer assigned you a place of work?
As a rule, your employer decides where you are to perform your work. This does not necessarily have to be the employer's facility, but also the work at an affiliated company or a third party designated by the employer (e.g. in the case of temporary workers). If you have been assigned a place of work, this is your first place of work
Is the assignment of your place of work permanent?
The assignment is permanent if you are assigned to a specific place of work for the full duration of the employment or for an indefinite period or for longer than 48 months
If your employment contract does not specify a first place of work, the place of work where you spend most of your time is generally considered to be the first place of work, i.e. if you work there for at least two full working days per working week or at least one third of the agreed regular working time. If this applies equally to several places of work of an employer, your first place of work is the one closest to your home.
For journeys to a first place of work, the distance allowance applies - so you can only claim the one-way journey between your home and your place of work.
The Taxfix app automatically takes the flat rate into account when you select your place of work in the "Work" category. Select the option "Employer's workplace" if you had a first place of work.
What is a meeting point and which flat rate applies?
You do not have a fixed place of work, but always travel to the same starting point? Then this is usually a meeting point (Sammelpunkt).
In many cases, your employer can set a meeting point where you regularly arrive and from where you start your working day.
This is the case for bus drivers, for example, if they are assigned to a bus station. The same applies to lorry drivers who pick up and drop off their vehicles at a certain place. Another example would be craftsmen on assembly or the home airport of flight personnel.
In the case of a meeting point, the distance allowance also applies, i.e. only the one-way journey between home and the meeting point. You can also claim additional expenses for meals.
In the Taxfix app, select the option "Meeting point" in the category "Work" to record your journey to work and to use the flat-rate distance allowance. In the process, you can also enter additional expenses for meals.
What is the definition of a large area?
A large area (weiträumiges Tätigkeitsgebiet) is one in which one works in a defined area and not in a fixed operational facility. This applies, for example, to foresters or harbour workers. Such an area usually has an access point, which you drive to every day in order to start working in the area from there.
If your place of work is a large area, you can claim the distance allowance. This means that only the one-way journey from your home to the access point is taken into account for tax purposes. You can also claim additional expenses for meals.
In the Taxfix app, in the category "Work", select "Large area" as the place of work. The flat rate is automatically taken into account by the app. After entering your travel route, you can enter your additional meal expenses.
Can I have more than one first place of work?
If you work for several different employers at the same time, you can have one first place of work per employer. For each employer, it is assessed separately whether a first place of work exists or not. It is therefore possible to have several first places of work at the same time, for each of which the distance allowance applies.
However, you can only have one first place of work with one employer. If you work for an employer where you have different places of work, for example different branches, only one of these places of work can be your first place of work. At the other locations you then carry out field work.
External work/field service: the kilometre allowance
Do you have no fixed place of work and are always working somewhere else? Do the requirements for a first place of work not apply to your workplace? Then you are in field service or in an external activity:
- For example, if you are a sales representative and only visit customers and are therefore constantly on the road
- If you have two different places of work with the same employer, only one of them can be your first place of work. The second is considered an external activity
- Mobile care workers, chimney sweeps or district managers are also often in the field
The kilometre or travel allowance applies to external work (Außendienst). You can therefore claim all kilometres travelled (outward and return) for tax purposes.
In the Taxfix app, select "External workplace" as the place of work in the "Work" category to claim the kilometre allowance. You can enter your additional expenses for meals after you have entered your journeys.
How to enter multiple employers or work locations in the Taxfix app
If you had several employers or places of work, you can enter several routes in our app. For each commute, you can then specify the applicable work location. Simply enter the number of your commutes in the "Work" category at the beginning.
What are additional expenses for meals?
The so-called additional expenses for meals (Verpflegungsmehraufwand) is important for tax purposes if you are frequently on the road, be it for business trips, as a field worker or in the context of professional training. The legislator assumes that if you are away from home or from your first place of work for a long time, you will have higher expenses for meals.
You can claim the higher costs for your meals against tax. Flat rates always apply here, which depend on the duration of the absence. The Taxfix app therefore asks for absences when entering certain travels and automatically calculates your additional meal expenses on the basis of the information provided.
You can enter additional expenses for meals in the app if your place of work was a meeting point, a large area or an external workplace, or if you have been on a business trip. If you had a first place of work, however, the entry is not possible. Find further detailed information on additional meal expenses here.