I am to receive a sign on bonus. In 2018 I earned not much money but in 2019 I will, because of the new job. My employer agreed to send the money on signing in 2018 as this makes quite a difference in tax. Unfortunately they sent the money on 29.12. and as the 31.12. is a bank holiday I will receive the money at 2.1.19.

For doing my taxes, does this money sent in 2018 but received in 2019 count for the tax in 2018?

Edit: I had a look in my bank account and saw some (outgoing) items with information like “Datum: 27.12., Wertstellung: 24.12.“ I am not sure how to translate Wertstellung, I guess something like date when it is booked. Is it possible that even when my bank books this bonus on 2.1.19 it is dated on 2018?


You may have to consult a tax professional about this, but I fear that you are out of luck: You must generally pay taxes on any income in the year in which you receive it (Zuflussprinzip).

There is in fact one exception, but probably it does not apply here: If regular wages (not a bonus, in my understanding) reach you during the first 3 weeks of year n, and they are paid for year n-1, you pay the taxes in year n-1.

Source: Income tax law

Having said that: check your bank statement exactly. Even if the Buchungsdatum is 2019, the Valuta may be 2018 and then you could have a case.

  • I read your Edit to the answer after editing my question, but it fits perfectly. Thanks for this answer, I will check my account on 2.1. And hope for the best.
    – Lehue
    Dec 31 '18 at 12:58
  • So, what did you find on your bank statement?
    – WerKater
    Jan 3 '19 at 14:01
  • luckily it was “Buchung: 2.1.19, Wertstellung: 31.12.18“ so I guess I am all right. I will ask my bank how to handle this because this item is not on my “Kontoauszug“ which I need for the tax.
    – Lehue
    Jan 3 '19 at 15:33
  • 1
    Good. Note that you should not need the Kontoauszug for the tax; your employer should give you with a document. In any event, this item will probably be on your next Kontoauszug. Please consider accepting my answer as correct.
    – WerKater
    Jan 3 '19 at 15:57

In the US it will be determined by your W2, or earnings statement. Based on your description, the wages/bonus were paid by the employer in 2018 and therefore are taxable in 2018. So in the US it would be reflected on your 2018 W2.

Similarly in the US when paying taxes you are not late as long as you send your tax return on the due date. If you owe the IRS people will mail the payment on the due date.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.