How to Save Taxes with Your Double Household
Learn how to benefit from your double household by claiming up to 1.000 € a month in your annual tax declaration.
Living in a German city and working in another: As an employee you must be flexible and mobile these days. If the dream job is so far away from your own hometown, many professionals often consider a second home instead of completely moving away. As if that wasn’t expensive enough, many cities and communities demand an extra tax: the second home tax. Each municipality decides for itself whether to levy the tax and how high it will be. So, when accepting a job offer in another German city, you should definitely take the financial aspect into account. However, under certain conditions you can benefit from exceptions and claim the costs for your second home of up to 1,000 euros a month in your annual tax declaration! Find out how in this guide! Also click here, for a deeper dive into the guide from Finanztip.
How do you register your second home?
To register your second home, contact the responsible residents’ registration office in the city or municipality in which your second home is located. In most municipalities you have to register your second home within two weeks of moving in. On the website of the respective office you will usually find a PDF form that you can fill out and bring with you to your appointment.
What happens if you don’t register your second home?
In Germany, citizens are obliged to notify the authorities when they move into a new apartment. If you do not register your second home within the statutory period, you risk a fine. Depending on the authority and the length of time that the deadline is exceeded, fines of up to 1,000 euros can be incurred. So, it would be better if you mark this important date firmly in your calendar to avoid any inconvenient surprises.
Who can be exempted from the second home tax?
- If you are married and live together with your spouse in a common main residence, you do not have to pay secondary residence tax if you use a secondary residence for professional reasons.
- If you do not stay in one place for more than six months and are already registered in Germany, you also do not have to pay secondary residence tax during this time.
- If you live in Bavaria, you can apply for an exemption from the second home tax as a low-income earner.
How can you take advantage of having two households?
If you are single and have to maintain a second home close to your place of work for professional reasons, you can claim some costs for the accommodation as well as the second home tax in your tax declaration. However, the workplace should be easier to reach from the secondary residence as from your primary residence. If you just need an hour from your main residence to your place of work every day, the higher chances are that the tax office will reject your second home as double household is, unfortunately, quite high.
You must also be able to prove that the centre of your life is still in the city of your main residence and that you pay at least 10 percent of the ongoing housing costs. These include: rent, utilities, expenses for groceries and other everyday necessities.
If you are married and visit the family home at least six times a year, the tax office will recognize it as your main residence. As a single professional, the centre of your life is the place to which you have a closer personal connection. Anyone who visits their home in this location less than twice a month should be able to argue with their relationships with parents, their partner, relatives and friends, for example, or with their membership in a club. Important: If you use a room in your parents’ apartment free of charge, this does not count as your own household. You must be able to prove that you contribute more than 10 percent to the running costs. Even if you stay in a mobile home, you don’t have your own household. 😉
If you meet these four requirements for keeping two households, you can claim the costs for your second home from the tax office as income-related expenses (Annex N in the tax declaration). This can get you a handsome tax refund.
Which costs can you claim for tax purposes for your double household?
According to a rule by the Federal Fiscal Court, you can claim up to 1,000 euros a month for your double household. If your employer has not reimbursed you tax-free, you can deduct the following additional expenses as income-related expenses:
- Accommodation costs of the second home (rent, utilities, special costs)
- Rent for a garage or a parking space
- Relocation costs (agent costs, expenses for housing portals, travel expenses for viewings)
- Travel expenses for weekly trips home (actual costs or 30 cents per kilometre, 31.03.22)
- Necessary costs for furniture and household (in the case of furnished apartments, the furnishing costs must be stated)
- Additional costs for meals within the first three months
- Second home tax
- Home and building insurance
Insider tip: Professionals with a second home only have to pay the broadcasting fee once. Since 1st November 2019, spouses and registered civil partners can apply to be exempted from the GEZ contribution for their secondary residences, provided they live in a shared main residence.
If your double household management is recognised, this applies indefinitely over the entire period of employment (§ 9 Para. 1 Clause 3 No. 5 Income Tax Act).
Now it’s time to fight your way through the bureaucratic jungle and collect all the documents you need for the tax office. But in the end, it can be really worth it!
This article was created in cooperation with Finanztip.de.
All photo rights by International Campus GmbH.