The clock is ticking: January 31 is the deadline for filing property tax returns. Millions of owners have still not submitted their documents to the tax office. What happens if I miss the appointment?

The requirements are clear: “Every owner of a property (e.g. a single-family house, condominium or commercial property) and an agricultural and forestry business must submit a property tax return.” This is how the Bavarian State Chancellery puts it, for example. Nationwide, this applies to around 36 million citizens.

The deadline for submitting such a declaration is January 1, 2022: Anyone who owned a property on this day must submit a property tax return. The latest submission deadline is Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

Anyone who has still not fulfilled their duty has only a few days left. Far too short for anyone who is only now beginning to collect the necessary data. For them it is clear: the deadline will be exceeded.

The authorities have a whole catalog of measures with which they can “motivate” defaulting owners to submit their property. This ranges from surcharges for delays to fines. But such drastic measures do not threaten immediately from February 1st.

The tax offices first have to wait for the receipt of the declarations. Many citizens submit the data digitally via Elster. But Bavaria, for example, also accepts the submission of forms in paper form. Owners can send them in the mail. The current strikes at the post office sometimes mean that documents that have been sent in good time are received late by the tax offices. This is one of the reasons why the authorities will not fire immediately.

Some federal states recently announced that they will send reminders to defaulters to submit their declarations later. This means: A reminder letter comes before a possible fine notice.

Baden-Württemberg, for example, is planning to send out reminders by the end of March at the latest. In it, the authorities give each owner the date by which they can make up for the levy.

Like Baden-Württemberg, most other federal states want to send out reminders before imposing penalties. For a survey, plan this accommodating approach:

Good to know: The official warning is not an extension of the deadline! That means: The time for possible late surcharges is running. Therefore, anyone who is reminded should react as quickly as possible and submit their information later.

Not every federal state has promised in advance that such accommodating treatment of those who default on deadlines. Bavaria and Hamburg are missing from the list. In Bavaria, however, tax offices can grant an individually longer submission deadline in justified cases. Taxpayers have to apply for it.

In principle, the authorities can levy surcharges for delays and fines in order to urge the obligation to pay the fee.

Attention: This surcharge is an additional fee. Of course, taxpayers still have to submit their property tax return.

If the addressee fails to transfer the late payment surcharge, the tax authorities can impose fines. Such penalties can amount to up to 25,000 euros.

With the WISO tax program, the property tax declaration can now be made in no time at all. Via FOCUS online you can get the tax software at an exclusive special price of only 26.99 euros. Normal price is 29.99 euros.

If all late surcharges and other measures do not persuade a property owner to submit his data, the tax office can estimate the future property tax. It is likely that the Office will not apply the most favorable case for taxpayers. So better not try it!

Therefore, the advice is: do your property tax return! Get started today. Valuable tips for filling out the forms can be found below in the guide from FOCUS online.

To submit the property tax return via Elster, taxpayers must apply for authentication. It comes in the mail. That takes time, especially in times of postal strikes. But there are alternatives that also allow timely submission of the information digitally. One provider is Smartsteuer. Another lures customers with his company name: “Property tax made easy”. That’s what the Wiesbaden company Whakapai came up with.

What both providers have in common is that they do not need to be authenticated by the tax office. And with it the waiting time. This makes it possible to submit the property tax documents even on January 31st – i.e. within the deadline.

With Smartsteuer, users can access their real estate data via a website and transfer it to a form. Once all the information has been provided, customers send the declaration to the tax office. Filing a property tax return costs EUR 34.95. The provider grants a kind of volume discount: From the second property tax return, each additional fee costs 29.95 euros.

“Property tax made easy” reports that customers need “on average 25 minutes (for) completing and submitting their digital property tax return”. The service costs 24.99 euros.

The reform for the new property tax is complex – and this year it will require owners. You have to submit some data to the tax office. You have to be very precise and observe special deadlines. In our large guide you will find all the information you need to know in a compact form.

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