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I'm an employed programmer, officially not working from home.

A friend told me, that you can set off your personal computer and up to specific values, you would not have to prove your work related usage.
I use my private computer for research and work related stuff about 25-50% of the time, but cannot prove this on paper.

According to Lohnsteuer-kompakt.de research is a legitimate work-related activity and if it is not possible to classify private/professional relation, 50/50 would be assumed.

The computer has cost about 2000€.
50% -> 1000€

Further net costs above 487,90€ (incl. VAT) cannot be set off at once, but over the estimated time of use (e.g. 3 years).

1000 / 3 -> 333€ per year

This sounds clear, but such a strong and expensive machine is by far not necessary for the my work-related usage.

Can I set off my computer, partial, against tax liability?

  • I think you understand the basics correctly. A 2000 Euro computer is reasonable for a programmer, I would expect. You should be safe assuming the 50/50 split, I would assume other programmers even go for 100%. – benroth Feb 22 '16 at 10:38
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    In the US, computers are considered "listed property" which has some interesting tax consequences: investopedia.com/terms/l/listed-property.asp I don't know if Germany has any similar laws, but Americans reading this should be cautious. – Glen Pierce Dec 7 '18 at 16:31
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You have the basics right. But note one additional consideration: Employees can always deduct the Werbungskostenpauschale of 1000€/year without proving any expenses and even if there actually were none. On the flip side, this means that you have no advantage from declaring your computer an expense, unless your total employment related expenses are more than 1000€.

If you are above this threshold, your best course of action would probably simply be:

  • Estimate how much (x%) you use it for work.
  • Declare the expense (x%, over 3 years) in your tax return.
  • Wait whether it is accepted or whether further evidence is demanded. Assuming all your factual statements are true, the worst you have to fear is that the deduction is not accepted.
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Check this site:

https://www.finanztip.de/werbungskosten/

Just to give you some idea what can be deducted from taxes. For more ideas, go to a bookstore and get a book about tax deductions. In Germany, any cost that you have because you have a job or any cost trying to get a job is tax deductible. Plus lots of other things.

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