Important mail arrives at the beginning of the year. If you want to get the best out of your tax return, you should sort your letters and certificates carefully. Because you still need a lot of letters. We explain which ones.

Many important documents for the tax return flutter into the mailbox between January and March. Which letters should you pay particular attention to and where to put them so that they are available again as quickly as possible when they are needed? The Bavarian wage tax assistance has put together a few tips for taxpayers.

The documents that are important for the tax return should ideally be filed in such a way that they are ready to hand when preparing the income tax return. For letter mail, this can be a folder in which the papers are filed. However, many banks and insurance companies now send their proof digitally. These should be called up relatively quickly in the mailbox and archived in a digital tax folder. Digital documents are often no longer accessible after twelve months. If you do your tax return online, you will have to photograph or scan the classic letter anyway in order to upload it to Elster, tax software or the member portal of an income tax help. In this respect, digital archiving is quite practical from the start.

Insurance companies will be sending out their premium invoices from November. Anyone who has not yet exhausted the maximum amount of 1900 euros for employees, co-insured family members or civil servants with the basic health insurance can still deduct other insurance contributions, such as for private care, accident, dental, additional health, occupational disability, term life and liability insurance. In the case of privately insured persons and their children, the contribution statements are essential, as they must be included in the tax return.

In December, the major charities send out donation receipts for the past year. For donations to non-profit, tax-privileged organizations under 300 euros, simple proof such as a stamped deposit slip, bank statement or proof of an online or PayPal transaction will suffice from 2021. From a donation of 300 euros, the donation receipt must be attached to the tax return, with the exception of payments to special accounts in favor of the Ukraine war or the Ahr Valley disaster relief. Donation receipts for donations in kind, expenses incurred or unpaid time donations can also be included in the tax return.

At the turn of the year, the certificates from the banks also arrive. This includes the annual tax certificates, which show capital gains or interest deductions. The statement of loan interest paid under loan agreements can also be valuable. Landlords can deduct this if they have renovated a rental apartment with the loan and are generating income with the apartment. Anyone who uses a loan to finance a necessary stairlift, for example, can allocate the interest to the extraordinary tax burden. Interest on a training loan can be offset against training costs for tax purposes.

Anyone who has a savings contract for capital-forming benefits will receive the certificate from their investment institute at the end of February. This is relevant for those employees who receive an employee savings allowance from the state. For single people, this amounts to a maximum of 43 euros for savings contracts or building savers with capital-forming benefits and a maximum of 80 euros for simultaneous fund savings with equity funds. It only exists when you submit the certificate to the tax office. In the case of home savers, there will also be a housing premium of a maximum of 70 euros for single people from 2021. You must send the application back to the responsible building society, which will forward it to the tax office.

The end of February starts with the annual certificates for the promotion of Riester contracts. It lists the deposits and state allowances from the investment institute. In the same period, the contribution statements for the basic pensions (Rürup contracts) are sent. With this, the pension contributions can be claimed in the appendices of the tax return. From 2023, these will be 100 percent deductible. This also applies to payments into statutory pension insurance, agricultural old-age funds and professional pension institutions.

All certificates of wage replacement benefits are particularly important. The employment agency sends out notifications of unemployment, insolvency or short-time work benefits. The decision for a transitional allowance is sent by the pension insurance, statutory accident insurance or employment agency, depending on whether it is a rehabilitation measure, an accident at work or a disability. When it comes to maternity or sick pay, the respective health insurance company is the sender and contact person. In the case of parental allowance, it is the parental allowance office at your place of residence. Wage replacement benefits are used to determine the individual tax rate and require you to submit a tax return.

The utility bills, which tenants often only receive in March or April, arrive quite late. This usually includes a few items that tenants can deduct as household-related services or craftsman costs. This includes the chimney sweep, the caretaker, a cleaning company or security services. All inspection, maintenance or cleaning services such as cleaning the stairwell and common rooms, mowing the lawn and trimming the hedge, clearing and spreading in winter, reading the heating, water and electricity consumption, maintenance of the elevator, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, electrical , gas and water installations are recognized by the tax office. It doesn’t matter who commissioned the craftsman or service. Anyone who pays can deduct.

The employer sends the pay slip for December at the beginning of January at the latest. This contains all the data for the tax return, in particular the gross salary, the wage tax withheld, the church tax and the employee contributions to statutory health, nursing care and pension insurance. This data is listed more clearly in the electronic wage tax statement, which the employer transmits to the tax office.

Many of the documents mentioned are already available to the tax office, as they are automatically transferred to the tax authorities by employers, banks and insurance companies. Are the copies for private individuals still important? “Yes,” says Tobias Gerauer from the Bavarian wage tax office, “because it makes sense to check the amounts in the pre-filled tax return. Anyone who retrieves their tax data in Elster and has them entered digitally in their tax forms is responsible for the correctness of the data.” The automatism saves time, but the taxpayer should definitely take the time to manually compare each number with his documents and correct them if necessary.