If the tax assessment is incorrect, taxpayers can appeal. However, they do not have forever to do this. If you don’t keep to the deadline, you can’t change anything.
If you discover errors in your tax assessment, you can do something about it. So you shouldn’t file letters from the tax office straight away, but first check the information.
The taxpayers’ federal government advises you to check whether all the expenses that you have noted in your tax return are also in the tax assessment. If the tax office has deviated from it and has not recognized certain expenses, you can submit an objection. That can pay off: According to the Federal Ministry of Finance, almost 3.5 million objections were lodged in 2019 alone. Together with the unresolved objections from previous years, the tax offices had a total of over 5.8 million objections to process.
The good news: Almost two thirds of the cases (around 66 percent) were successful. Only 14 percent of the appeals were unsuccessful or at least partially unsuccessful.
Filing an appeal is easy
The process is simple and free. All you have to do is adhere to the deadlines and file an objection within a month. The Stiftung Warentest draws attention to this. The period begins with the receipt of the tax assessment, whereby the tax authorities usually assume a three-day delivery time – i.e. stamp of the tax assessment plus three days.
If the start of the period falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday, it is extended to the next working day. The official notification that the tax office sends home by post is always decisive. If the objection period ends on a weekend or public holiday, it is also extended to the next working day. According to the Federal Fiscal Court, New Year’s Eve counts as a working day (Ref .: III B 135/17).
The sender must be recognizable
The objection must be sent to the responsible tax office, by letter or email, via the Elster online portal or another tax program.
Formally, an objection does not have to meet any special requirements. It just has to be clear who is filing it and which notification the person is attacking. This is especially true for couples who are invested together. If only one spouse objects, the legal remedy does not automatically apply to the other, according to the taxpayers’ association.
Point out sample procedures
The word “objection” does not necessarily have to be above it, and you do not have to justify an objection. However, this can be useful because the clerk can specifically check the facts. If there is no reason, the tax office may come to the same conclusion as in the tax assessment.
In the objection, you can refer to ongoing proceedings that the Federal Fiscal Court, other federal courts or the European Court of Justice are still deciding on – if they are of importance for your own tax assessment. It is best to give the file number. Your own decision on this point remains open until a judgment has been reached.
Withdraw the objection More on the subject
Important to know: Any tax claims are not fundamentally null and void as a result of the objection. In other words, you usually have to pay the claim first. Those who want to avoid this should also apply for a “suspension of execution”.
If everything is there, the tax office can check the documents again. This can also be unfavorable for the taxpayer. In such a case, there is talk of an “evil” of the original tax assessment. But: The tax office must point this out to taxpayers. Affected parties can then withdraw their objection. Then everything stays the same.