Expense Management in Germany

How to manage my expenses in Germany

Definition of operating expenses: Operating expenses are expenses that are caused by the operation. You reduce the profit and thus save taxes. However, certain operating expenses are not deductible or only to a limited extent.

We will show you here how you can handle business expenses correctly in terms of tax.

IMPORTANT: separate private from operational expenses

Expenses that are used solely for private living are not deductible as operating expenses, even if they are triggered by your economic or social position. This applies even if they are to promote your profession or your job. If a professional or private co-event is of minor importance (less than 10% in each case), this should not be taken into account.

Other mixed expenses are to be broken down into operating expenses and non-deductible costs of personal life, if the breakdown according to objective characteristics (time, quantity, area, by head) can be carried out easily and properly.

The part of the expenses that has to be considered as operating expenses can be estimated if necessary. If, in the case of mixed expenses, an easy and perfectly verifiable separation between business and private causes is not possible, the total costs are not deductible.

Allocable costs are in particular:

  • Motor vehicle costs (kilometers driven) - Use the logbook to trace private or professional trips
  • Telephone charges - See how long private and corporate calls have been on the bill
  • Travel expenses - travel expense reports

Here is an overview of other operating expenses that you can claim for tax purposes: *

  • Depreciation (AfA), even if the acquisition costs have not yet been paid (https://www.steuern.de/abschreibung-gebaeude.html)
  • Attorney fees
  • Contributions to professional associations
  • Consulting costs (business, legal, tax)
  • Operating taxes (e.g. property, vehicle and sales tax)
  • Office costs (rent, cleaning, telephone, office supplies)
  • Theft losses if the loss can be attributed to the business sphere (especially money theft)
  • Maintenance expenses for business assets
  • Specialist books and journals
  • Financing costs (interest including current account interest, discounts, notary fees for land charges) for the procurement of loans
  • Training costs
  • Business and information trips
  • Incentive trips
  • Motor vehicle costs, as far as professionally induced (including accident costs)
  • Pension payments
  • Personnel costs (including those for spouses and children)
  • Commissions
  • Process costs
  • Damages, insofar as they are operationally related
  • Sponsorship to promote people or organizations in sporting, cultural or similar social areas
  • Tax advice costs for the company (annual accounts and bookkeeping), also travel expenses to the tax advisor including possible accident costs on the trip, tax specialist literature
  • Defense costs if the underlying offense was caused professionally (fines and fines are not deductible)
  • Tips for business purposes
  • Moving expenses
  • Insurance contributions (but not loss of practice, life, occupational accident insurance for the entrepreneur)
  • Advertising expenses

These operating expenses are not deductible or only to a limited extent

Operating expenses are generally fully deductible. A distinction must be made between * non-deductible or limited deductible operating expenses. Although they belong to the area of business expenses, their deductibility is limited by legal regulations (in particular § 4 Paragraph 5 and § 12 EStG). However, they do not belong to private withdrawals.

These non-deductible or only limited deductible operating expenses include, for example:

  • Expenses for gifts to people other than employees if the acquisition or production costs per recipient exceed EUR 35 in total in the marketing year
  • Hospitality costs (https://www.steuern.de/bewirtungskosten.html) insofar as they are inappropriate or exceed 70% of the reasonable hospitality costs
  • Additional expenses for meals insofar as they exceed the legally stipulated lump sums for business trips
  • Expenses for journeys between home and business, insofar as the expenses exceed the distance lump sum (see also company car https://www.steuern.de/dienstwagen.html)
  • Expenses for a home office (https://www.steuern.de/arbeitszimmer.html)
  • Additional expenses due to double housekeeping due to operational reasons (https://www.steuern.de/doppelte-haushaltsfuehrung.html)
  • Inappropriate expenses that affect lifestyle
  • Expenses for business representation, such as B. particularly expensive motor vehicles or an excessively luxurious equipment of the business premises. The deduction ban applies to the part of the expenses that is to be regarded as inappropriate according to the general view of traffic.
  • Interest on evaded taxes
  • Debt interest based on overdrafts
  • Fines, administrative fines, warning fines, fines
  • Bribes and bribes
  • Cost of using spiritual sales promotion services
  • Trade tax (https://www.steuern.de/gewerbesteuer.html) for years from 2008
  • Expenses for the promotion of government policy purposes; if necessary, they are deductible as donations