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Processing time of the tax return at the tax office.

If you finally managed to get the documents together for your tax return and look forward to the expected refund after submitting the tax return, the tax office sometimes puts a spoke in your wheel. The processing time stretches over months. In this article, we would like to clarify how long the processing time at the tax office is, why it can take longer for soldiers, and what can be done to speed up processing.

Processing time for an income tax return.

In general, the processing time at the tax office depends on the case at hand and the processor at the tax office. Due to a lack of staff in the tax offices, it can quickly happen that your tax return takes a little longer due to the illness-related absence of the clerk.

The average processing time for an income tax return in Germany is 54.7 days.

Why does a soldier’s tax return take longer?

High advertising costs

Tax offices process the tax returns semi-automated. This means that it is always checked whether there are major deviations compared to the previous year and a comparison is also made as to whether there are certain cost items that are above the norm. Since soldiers have high travel costs due to transfers and command assignments, these are often checked more closely.

Documentary review

In general, as of January 1st, 2018, the previous obligation to submit receipts was replaced by an obligation to keep receipts. This means that employees can generally submit the tax return without any documents and the tax office then only requests certain documents for verification. Unfortunately, this approach is not very practical for soldiers. As a rule, transfers, orders, and separation allowance certificates must always be checked. That’s why we always send all relevant documents to the tax office. Of course, this check by the tax office requires a little more time.

Frequent change of residence

In the early years, in particular, we see soldiers often changing their place of residence. Due to relocation, studies, etc., soldiers often change their main residence. This re-registration usually leads to a change in the tax office. The forwarding of the tax case can hurt the processing time. In addition, we often experience that the receipts sent are not forwarded to the new tax office, which causes additional queries and the receipt of new receipts.

Inquire about the processing status at the tax office – Here’s how.

Before calling the tax office, you should have your tax number (found on last year’s tax assessment) or tax identification number (found on the income tax statement) ready.

Find the responsible tax office

You can find out your responsible tax office, telephone number, and opening hours here with your current registration address

2nd call to the switchboard

Call the number shown. Here you usually end up in the head office. Briefly tell the employee from the tax office that you would like to check the processing status of your income tax return. After naming your tax number or your tax identification number, you will be put through or you will receive the extension number of your responsible clerk.

Ask about the processing status of your tax return

If you have now reached the clerk, enter your tax number or your tax identification number again and ask about the processing status or whether documents are still missing.

Attention: We advise against calling the tax office before a processing time of 3 months and against frequent calls. The more time tax officials spend on the phone, the less processing time there is to complete tax returns. Please consider this before you call.

What can I do if the tax office does not process my tax return?

In general, there are no deadlines by which the tax office has to complete your tax return. From a purely legal point of view, the only possibility is to object to inaction. If, after 6 months, the tax office has neither asked you questions nor issued a decision, it would be possible to object to inaction.

However, you should only consider this as a last resort. Because of the inaction objection, the tax return is usually checked very carefully. If you are dependent on the goodwill of the tax office for some income-related expenses, this could sometimes be disadvantageous for you.

We, therefore, recommend the following procedure:

  • After 3-4 months without any questions or tax assessments – call the tax office and ask about the processing status – ask whether documents are missing
  • After 5 months without any questions or tax assessments – call the tax office and ask for the tax return to be processed
  • After 6 months without any questions or tax assessments – the last call to the tax office – if there is still no date given for the completion of the tax return, you can consider filing an objection to inaction.

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