In the future, a property owner from the Spessart should pay a 34,000 percent higher property tax for a bit of inherited forest, two fallow fields and a garden. FOCUS online has investigated the case.

“I own a small piece of forest, two small fields and a small garden, everything is used privately. Together, these lots add up to 11,779 square meters. I pay 4.31 euros in property tax a year for this.” This is how the e-mail from a FOCUS online reader from Lower Franconia, which reached our editorial team at the beginning of December, begins.

The user also reported that he had entered the data known to him under property tax A in his property tax return. A stands for agricultural and is aimed at owners of land in agriculture and forestry. The evaluation is carried out uniformly across Germany, with the exception of isolated deviations in all federal states. In contrast to property tax B, there are no separate state models for developed and undeveloped properties.

FOCUS online readers received their property tax assessment notice relatively quickly after submitting their property tax return via Elster. And was shocked: “According to these documents, the annual property tax is calculated with the new property tax amount and the previous assessment rate of 1469.27 euros. That would be an increase of almost 34,000 percent.”

The property owner does not want to make his name and place of residence public. However, he agrees to reporting the case in order to share his experience and, at best, to help people facing similar problems.

The reader filed an objection within the time limit. He was firmly convinced that he had “done everything correctly with the input”, as he assured on the phone. “I made a clean distinction between property tax A and B.”

He does not generate any income from the half hectare of spruce forest, the fields are also fallow, the small orchard has an area of ​​10 by 15 meters. “I pay like I own a plantation.”

FOCUS online has similar cases from northern Germany, for example, in which areas that are not really used for agriculture and forestry suddenly have a multiple of the new property tax that will apply from 2025.

Inquiry at the Bavarian State Office for Taxes (LfSt). Here we are informed:

“From the descriptions given by the property owner, it can be deduced that he declared the plots of land as real estate, not as agriculture and forestry, and that, according to his statements, these were currently subject to the regulations of property tax B.

Explanation: As part of the new property tax, the calculation bases for property tax A (agricultural and forestry assets) and property tax B (property) will be reassessed or fixed. For property tax B, Bavaria has opted for a value-independent area model and differs from the federal model in this respect. As before, agricultural and forestry operations are valued at their earnings value (property tax value). Federal law applies here.

In some cases, there are errors in this context, especially when allocating the areas to property tax A or property tax B. Basically, the reform has hardly changed anything in the allocation of property tax A and property tax B. The current use and correct allocation often only becomes apparent to the tax office now that a new declaration has been submitted.”

According to LfSt, the starting point is how an area was previously assigned. “In the next step, the owners have to check whether this assignment is still correct. If you have any questions, the detailed instructions for the declaration forms will help. Among other things, the following must be observed:

Depending on the assignment, the appendix “Agriculture and forestry” (for property tax A) or the appendix “Land” (for property tax B) must then be filled out for the property tax return in addition to the main form.

If the areas in the case described continue to be assigned to property tax A as before, the determination of the assessment basis according to the regulations for property tax B would be incorrect in law. If, on the other hand, the previous assignment to property tax A is not applicable, the areas are to be assessed according to the regulations of property tax B.”

Without further knowledge of the facts, however, it is not possible to assess which classification is correct.

The explanation helped our reader from northern Bavaria. In the second phone call to FOCUS online, he reported that he had stated “undeveloped land” in the declaration of determination instead of farming and forestry.

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.

After consultation with the responsible tax office, he should now submit an amendment. On this occasion he was also informed that he no longer had to enter all the properties separately, but all the properties in the first field. Our reader has now done this and hopes that it was actually just an input error that brought him this promised property tax increase so shortly before Christmas. FOCUS online will continue to stay tuned and report on the case, which is not an isolated case.

In a press release, the Bavarian State Office for Taxes (LfSt) explains what to do if a mistake was made in the property tax return:

First possibility: Haven’t received a notification yet

If the property tax return was submitted electronically via Elster: A property tax return can be corrected via Elster by simply retransmitting it in full. To do this, proceed as follows: The submitted property tax return is listed on the “My Elster” page under “My forms” under the “Forms submitted” tab. The successfully transmitted information can be transferred to a new declaration, corrected and resubmitted via the “Actions” item.

If the property tax return was submitted in paper form (which is possible in Bavaria, in contrast to many other federal states): the property tax simply has to be submitted again in the corrected version.

Second possibility: already received a decision

Within the objection period, an objection can be filed against the notification with reference to the error (e.g. electronically using Elster or in paper form). If, from the taxpayer’s point of view, several notices are wrong (e.g. notices about the real estate tax equivalent amounts and the real estate tax base amount), separate appeals would have to be lodged against all notices. Further information – in particular within what period an appeal must be lodged and to which authority it must be addressed – can be found in the instructions on legal remedies contained in the notifications.

If the error is not sent to the responsible tax office until after the appeal period has expired, the notifications will be adjusted, at least for the future, if a correction is no longer possible under procedural law. If the error is corrected in this way before January 1, 2025, the originally incorrect information will have no effect on the real estate tax to be paid.