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September 2020
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Paying Taxes

In my experience, once you’ve filed your 1040 in the United States, you never hear from the IRS again, unless you’ve done something stupid (like forget to sign the form – see my 2009 1040), or they’re auditing you (never happened to me-save for a screwball thing with the State of Colorado a few years back).

On the other hand, filing the equivalent form in Germany seems to be the start of a conversation.

Today I sent my second letter to the Finanzamt explaining parts of my 2010 tax declaration for Germany.

6 comments to Paying Taxes

  • Actually I find it rather pleasant that the Finanzamt is a local office staffed by human beings who you can talk to when you need to have something resolved.

  • Just after typing that, the post brought us our once-again corrected tax statement for 2008(!), and it’s still not right. It has to be corrected again.

  • Michele J

    Isn’t that what you pay your Steuerberater for? We don’t even hear from the Finanzamt because he runs interference for us.

  • Scott — I will agree that the Finanzamt is friendly and personable. I’ve not dealt with them in person, but the letters I get, while somewhat form-letter like, are personal and signed by a specific person whose office number is indicated, in the event that I wanted to stop by and visit them in person. Their direct phone number is even listed. The last time I got a letter from the IRS (when I forgot to sign my 1040), it was clearly automated and there was no specific person I could call to ask questions.

    Meanwhile, I have to ask — are all past years that complicated, or is 2008 a special case?

    Michele J – My accountant tells me what to say / do with the Finanzamt, but he’s in America and the mail comes to me in Germany. He does both my US and German taxes — and I am quite happy with him.

  • @Adam 2008 was very special, tax-wise, but that had to do with my wife winding down her employment with McDonald’s and her stock options. That’s now settled, but now our new Steuerberaterin found a couple of routine things our old Steuerberater had missed. Now as mere business-people, our taxes are simple again, although we have to wait for the business books to be finished each year before we can file privately.

    One thing our Steuerberaterin suggested is that we give her power of attorney with the Finanzamt, so all our tax mail goes to her instead of us. That’s very handy.

    • How much longer will your 2008 tax process last? It seems to me that at some point the burden starts costing the government more than the reward…

      In theory I am getting money back from Deutschland, but the exact amount and date when this will happen is very much up in the air. I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.

      In the US, other than a bizarre encounter with Colorado (which went away quickly), I’ve never been asked any serious questions by the IRS (or state level equivalents) about my taxes. I’ve only been asked to sign my form, the one time I forgot.