Finanzamt Neubrandenburg (RiA)Central Tax Office for pensioners residing abroad

Frequently asked questions

I received a letter in german language from the revenue office Neubrandenburg with the request to file a tax return, what does that mean?

Information about the content of this letter can be found in the following information sheets, which are available for download in various languages.

Why isn’t the tax deducted when the pension is paid out?

Lawmakers have not so far made provisions for taxing pension income using such a method. In this case, income tax is calculated using the income tax schedule. This is a table showing the income tax payable on different amounts of taxable income. To have taxable income calculated, it is necessary to submit a tax return to the tax office. You can find the forms here.

What documents do I have to submit together with the tax return?

A tax return comprises at least the cover sheet (ESt1A or ESt1C) and the annex for income (Anlage R). In addition to the completed forms, you need to enclose the pension adjustment notification for the respective tax year. If you are making an application under section 1 subsection (3) of the Income Tax Act (Einkommensteuergetz) then your foreign income, insofar as you have any, needs to be declared on “EU/EEA Certificate” (“Bescheinigung EU/EWR”) (and confirmed by the revenue authority of your country of residence). If you apply for joint assessment, your spouse’s income needs to be declared and supporting evidence submitted. You also need to provide information about your last place of residence in Germany or, if you do not have one, the last place you worked in Germany. You do not need to submit a certificate of existence of pension recipient (Lebensbescheinigung) as part of the taxation process; such documents are to be submitted to pension providers.

What do I need to be aware of when paying my tax from abroad?

As set out in section 270 of the Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch), tax debt is payable at the address of the payee. This means that you, the taxpayer, bear the risks and costs of transferring the money (e.g. bank charges).

Bank charges may vary depending on the bank and method of payment used. To avoid problems later on, it is recommended that you ask your bank about charges in advance and adjust the payment amount accordingly.

Transfers within the EU/EEA should be made via the SEPA procedure using your international account number (IBAN and BIC). This is a simple, cheap, quick and secure way to make both domestic and cross-border transfers in euros.

Further information on transferring money to the Neubrandenburg Tax Office can be found here:

What happens if I don’t pay the tax assessed in Germany?

The tax assessment notice states the amount of tax payable (your tax debt). If you do not settle your tax debt, the tax office is authorised to initiate enforcement measures against you. This includes the seizure of your cash balance at banks in Germany or the seizure of your pension entitlement from German pension providers. In some countries the tax debt can also be recovered by means of international requests for recovery. This takes place as part of the administrative assistance provided between states. The tax is recovered by encroaching on your foreign assets in your country of residence.

In addition, the tax office has the power to order the pension provider to retain the tax, for the purposes of securing the tax claim (section 50a subsection (7) of the Income Tax Act). In this case, a portion of your monthly pension will be retained for tax purposes; these amounts will be offset as prepayments during the subsequent tax assessment. Securing the tax claim is, however, at the discretion of the tax office; you do not have a legal entitlement to this.

If you are not currently in possession of sufficient financial means to pay your tax debt, please contact your tax office without delay. In certain circumstances an agreement may be reached to defer your tax debt (for later payment or payment by instalment).

Do special procedures apply because I live abroad?

General provisions about the law on tax procedure, calculation of the tax basis, assessment, levying and enforcement of tax are set out in Germany’s Fiscal Code (Abgabenordnung). The Fiscal Code also contains provisions about out-of-court proceedings for legal remedy and about the law on tax crimes and tax offences.

There are some special rules that apply to taxpayers who are resident abroad. There are, for example, longer deadlines for disclosing administrative acts to addresses outside Germany (cf. section 122 subsection (2) number 2 of the Fiscal Code). Furthermore, the tax office is authorised to require the appointment of an authorised recipient (cf. section 123 of the Fiscal Code). Apart from that, the provisions of the Fiscal Code are to be applied irrespective of your nationality or place of residence.

As an umbrella law for German tax legislation, the Fiscal Code has been translated into English (please visit: www.gesetze-im-internet.de). However, German is still the official language (cf. section 87 subsection (1) of the Fiscal Code). The Income Tax Act (Einkommensteuergesetz) and the forms that make up your income tax return are therefore only available in German.

With regard to the costs and charges, the Fiscal Code does not distinguish between domestic pensioners and pensioners abroad. For all taxpayers, the general rule is that both the taxation procedure and out-of-court legal remedy procedures at the Neubrandenburg Tax Office are conducted free of charge. Fees are nonetheless charged for processing applications for an advance ruling (cf. section 89 subsections (3) to (5) of the Fiscal Code). Court proceedings before Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania fiscal court or the Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof) may also carry costs. The amount of the costs and charges generally depends on the amount in dispute. In the case of a time-based fee, billing is calculated according to the time taken to process the application.

Does the location to which the pension is transferred have a decisive bearing on taxation?

Some double taxation agreements contain a remittance-base clause. Under such clauses, the question of which country has the right to impose tax may in part be resolved according to whether the income was transferred to a domestic or foreign account. Definitive verification of whether this has an impact on your tax or not can only be determined during assessment – i.e. following submission of your tax return.

I already make a declaration in my country of residence about my income. Do I still have to submit a tax return in Germany?

Yes. Tax liability in Germany is based on Germany’s Income Tax Act (Einkommensteuergesetz). This applies irrespective of whether or not you have already submitted a tax return in your country of residence and pay taxes there. To prevent your income from being taxed twice, however, Germany has concluded double taxation agreements with many countries. Double taxation agreements establish which county may levy tax and in which form the country of residence is required to avoid double taxation. Two methods are employed to avoid double taxation. The first is the exemption method. Income already taxed in the state of source is exempt from tax, but may be included to ascertain the tax rate.

The second method is the credit method. The taxes paid in the source country are deducted when calculating tax in the country of residence. For details about the procedure, please context the relevant revenue authority in your country of residence.

Are foreign authorities notified about my pension?

The authorisation to give notification about pension payments paid to pensioners resident abroad arises from the rules corresponding with Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention. The extent to which this power is used in the case of manual or automated processing depends on the individual circumstances.

Are the forms available in other languages?

No, this is not currently possible. The only exceptions are the “EU/EEA Certificate” (“Bescheinigung EU/EWR”) and the “Non-EU/EEA Certificate” (“Bescheinigung außerhalb EU/EWR”). These forms have to be completed and certified by foreign revenue authorities. As a result, they can be accessed in a wide range of languages from the Federal Ministry of Finance (at: https://www.formulare-bfinv.de). You can also obtain the certificate in German and English here.

Where can I obtain the forms?

If you would like to submit a tax return, you can find the most commonly used forms (main form, Annex R, EU/EEA Certificate, Non-EU/EEA Certificate) on our download page. From there, you can download the forms, print them out and complete them. Unfortunately forms that can be filled out electronically are not available.

If you do not wish to submit a tax return, you can also have the tax office assess the tax on your behalf. You can find more information about this subject on the following page: Forms.