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I recently moved to Germany with my spouse and I started to work in November 2018. We got married before moving to Germany. We have both been assigned tax class IV. In my pay slips of November 2018 and December 2018 the tax class used for tax calculation is class IV. In my employment tax statement for 2018 (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung), it is written that my tax class is IV.

In late November 2018, we have requested a tax class change from our tax office (Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehegatten/Lebenspartnern) with this option 'The change of the tax code combination in line 18 should apply retroactively from the month of marriage. / Die Änderung der Steuerklassenkombination in Zeile 18 soll rückwirkend ab dem Monat der Heirat gelten.'. The tax office accepted our request and we have been assigned tax class III myself and tax class V for my wife.

I have received the confirmation from my employer that starting from January 2019, the tax class used for tax calculation will be class III. Also, My employer informed me that there will be no correction for the last year and that I need to handle this by my own while filling my income tax return (Einkommenssteuererklärung).

I am using steuergo.de to fill my tax return but I am not sure about some things. My questions are as follows:

  1. Should I fill my tax return the tax class from my employment tax statement for 2018 (IV) or should I fill the tax class which is currently assigned to me (III)?
  2. How can I specify that I have changed my tax class from IV to III?
  3. How will the reimbursement be effective and when?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Best regards.

EDIT - Answer from SteuerGo

  1. Should I fill my tax return the tax class from my employment tax statement for 2018 (IV) or should I fill the tax class which is currently assigned to me (III)?
  2. How can I specify that I have changed my tax class from IV to III?

Please fill in your current tax class. Basically, the tax class is only important for the calculation of the monthly wage tax that is paid by your employer to the tax authorities.

For the calculation of income tax the tax class is irrelevant and is only being presented for information. The amount of the actual tax liability is calculated from the taxable income that is determined by the income tax return (income minus expenses, such as work-related expenses).

By filling the tax return form on SteuerGo, tax authorities will class you correctly according to your marital status, children etc. The "Lohnsteuerbescheinigung" (certificate of wage tax deduction), which is issued by your employer, reports the paid wage tax. Financial authorities will correct and refund you.

  1. How will the reimbursement be effective and when?

A possible reimbursement will be paid by the tax office according to your assessment. Usually you will receive a reimbursement within 1-14 days after you received your tax assessment. The processing of a tax return at the tax office takes around 6 weeks, but may last 2-3 month or even longer. To find out about the processing of your individual tax return you may call your reelvant tax office in person. Only they can give you accurate information about this matter.

Do you have any comments regarding their reply?

  • There are some things to consider, depending on your and your souses income and possible deductibles. You can choose to file separate tax returns or combined (Ehegattensplitting). I´d strongly advise you see a professional for this, at least for the first year. The costs are usually offset by higher returns. – Daniel Jan 22 at 15:37
  • You can also ask your local tax office about this (or write them an E-Mail). They always answered my questions and where very helpful. – some_coder Jan 25 at 7:12
  • I understand the whole calculations but what I am missing is that when I fill my tax return of 2018 I will use the tax class 4. Hence, starting from January 2019, my tax class changed to 4 (although I am married and living with my wife in the same place since I moved to Germany - November 2018). This means that got taxed in November and December as class 4 but I should have been taxed as class 3. My question is: how do the tax office know that I should be reimbursed the difference of the taxes class 4 / class 3 I paid November and December 2018? Thank you for your help. – Nizar Boussarsar Feb 26 at 18:08
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Disclaimer: I don't know SteuerGo, only some other tax declaration programs, including Elster which is provided by the tax office

  • The ones I have seen ask you to fill in the information given on your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung. Thus, fill in the income tax class exactly as stated on the form you got from your employer.

  • Tax classes are used only to calculate the amount of taxes your employer downpays on your behalf - correct/"better" class leads to these predictions more closely matching the final tax calculation based on your income tax declaration.

  • They don't influence the final amount of taxes you have to pay (i.e. the amount of taxes due is the same whether you had IV/IV or III/V deductions).

  • Last but not least, if you worked 10 months outside Germany and 2 months in Germany, the tax deductions may anyways be totally off unless the German-taxable-equivalent of your outside-Germany wages are very similar to the German wages you get.


After you hand in that tax declaration, you'll get a tax statement/bill from the tax office. This will look roughly like these (several sheets, they come in different order)

Einkünfte aus nichtselbständiger Arbeit
Bruttoarbeitslohn                       8000
ab Werbungskosten
    ...
    Umzugspauschale                     1475
                                        ----
Einkünfte                               6525       6525
-------------------------------------------------------
Beschränkt abziehbare Sonderausgaben [partially deductible stuff]
   ...  
   Altersvorsorgeaufwendungen (= pension) ...
   ...                                    
   Beiträge zur Krankenversicherung       ...
   ...
   Summe                                  985       985
hinzu [additions]
-------------------------------------------------------
Einkommen / zu versteuerndes Einkommen             5540 

That last number (5540 €) is your taxable income, and this calculation is the same regardless whether you had tax class III or IV downpayments/withholdings. Assuming the income tax due on those 5540 € were 315 € plus 17,33 € Soli, there will be another sheet stating how much you get back/still owe:

                                    class IV example           class III example
                                    |                          |
Festsetzung                         v                          v  
                                    ESt      Soli   KiSt       ESt     Soli  KiSt
Festgesetzt werden                   315,00  17,33             315,00  17,33   
ab Steuerabzug vom Lohn             1375,50  75,64             764,66  42,04   <-- see here
                                    ------- ------ -----      ------- ------ -----
verbleibende Steuer                -1060,50 -58,31            -449,66 -24,71

...
                                    ------- ------ -----      ------- ------ -----
mithin sind zu viel entrichtet      1060,50  58,31             449,66  24,71

This sheet basically lists how much taxes you have to pay and how much of that has already been paid. That's where the downpayments your employer collected on behalf of the tax office appear (line 2). These downpayments differ depending on the tax class. So the result is that if your employer withheld according to class IV instead of III, your reimbursement will be higher by exactly this amount of money.
In the class IV example, your employer withheld 1451,14 € vs. 806,70 € with class III (difference 644,44 €) and you get back 1118,81 € vs. 474,37 € (difference 644,44 €).

  • Thanks for the reply. I must confess that I don't get the last part of your second point. Basically, I have done a simulation with the same gross salary but different tax classes which leads to have different net income. simulation-of-taxes-with-tax-class-3 & simulation-of-taxes-with-tax-class-4. I want to know how can I get reimbursed for the amount of taxes deduced from my salaries of NOV18 and DEC18? – Nizar Boussarsar Jan 24 at 13:15
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    @NizarBoussarsar: does my update answer your question? These simulators calculate downpayments/withholdings. In "easy" cases (single job for full year, correct tax class, not too far to commute, no particular hardships) the withholdings will match the final taxes due. But as soon as the situation is a bit more complicated, they don't match and in the vast majority of cases too much money is withheld. One then does what you do now: hand in a tax declaration to get the overpaid money back. – cbeleites Jan 24 at 15:22
  • I understand the whole calculations but what I am missing is that when I fill my tax return of 2018 I will use the tax class 4. Hence, starting from January 2019, my tax class changed to 4 (although I am married and living with my wife in the same place since I moved to Germany - November 2018). This means that got taxed in November and December as class 4 but I should have been taxed as class 3. My question is: how do the tax office know that I should be reimbursed the difference of the taxes class 4 / class 3 I paid November and December 2018? Thank you for your help. – Nizar Boussarsar Feb 26 at 18:08
  • 2
    @NizarBoussarsar: The tax office knows how much was prepaid on your behalf (the "Steuerabzug vom Lohn") - your employer electronically sent them that data (by Jan 10th) and gives you a printout of what they sent (by Feb 28th, i.e. Thu). The tax office then doesn't do anything until you hand in your tax declaration. With that, they calculate the exact tax you should have been paying, compare to the prepayment data, send you a tax statement and wire you the money you get back. – cbeleites Feb 26 at 18:12
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On your tax return for 2018 you must specify the tax class you had in 2018, that is IV. Your change in january 2019 is not relevant for the 2018 return.

Daniel is right that you might want to consult a professional about whether to file jointly. There is also tax software that can help you in this decision.

  • Thank you for the reply! Knowing that we have got married in 2017 and that we applied for the tax change with this option 'The change of the tax code combination in line 18 should apply retroactively from the month of marriage. / Die Änderung der Steuerklassenkombination in Zeile 18 soll rückwirkend ab dem Monat der Heirat gelten.', wouldn't that means that we have requested to apply a correction on the taxes paid in 2018 with the actual tax class combination (III/V) instead of (IV/IV)? – Nizar Boussarsar Jan 23 at 14:32
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    I think that does not change anything. I suppose the change in November was too late for your employer to process it for 2018. If your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung says IV, that should go on your return. Note that the tax class has no influence on the total amount of tax (Einkommensteuer) you will pay. It is only used to estimate your monthly Lohnsteuer which is essentially a prepayment to Einkommensteuer. – WerKater Jan 23 at 15:36
  • Thanks for the reply. I must confess that I don't get your last answer. Basically, I have done a simulation with the same gross salary but different tax classes which leads to have different net income. simulation-of-taxes-with-tax-class-3 & simulation-of-taxes-with-tax-class-4. I want to know how can I get reimbursed for the amount of taxes deduced from my salaries of NOV18 and DEC18? – Nizar Boussarsar Jan 24 at 13:21
  • I understand the whole calculations but what I am missing is that when I fill my tax return of 2018 I will use the tax class 4. Hence, starting from January 2019, my tax class changed to 4 (although I am married and living with my wife in the same place since I moved to Germany - November 2018). This means that got taxed in November and December as class 4 but I should have been taxed as class 3. My question is: how do the tax office know that I should be reimbursed the difference of the taxes class 4 / class 3 I paid November and December 2018? Thank you for your help. – Nizar Boussarsar Feb 26 at 18:08

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