Pendlerpauschale: or a taxing drive to work

Thousands of German employees breathed a sigh of relief a few days ago – the cancelling of the so-called Pendlerpauschale was ruled to be invalid by Germany’s constitutional court.

Germans pay a lot of tax compared to may other European countries, but they also have a lot more ways to claim tax back than in those other countries as well.  The rules are very complex, but generally speaking it is possible to offset such things as courses and books that you have paid for privately, as long as they are for your career.

Until the end of 2006, the cost of getting to work could also be claimed back, either by producing tickets for public transport or on the basis of the kilometers driven.  But then, all that changed, and the first 20km could no longer be claimed back.

For the past two years, people have been arguing that this is unfair and several local courts had already dealt with the issue.  But now, the consitutional court has taken the final, binding decision.

It didn’t take long for the politicians to respond.  On the lunch-time news that very same day there was an interview in which they were saying that they did not like the verdict, but that they would – as soon as possible – repay all of those affected since Januar 2007.

I checked my tax statement for that year, and sure enough it contained the important words (translated) “The tax statement is not yet conclusive.  Should a court decide that dropping the Entfernungspauschale be unlawful, it will be revised.  You do not need to contact us for this”

Let’s see how long they take…


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


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  4. […] was the rule that you could only claim back tax on the cost of getting to work if you had to travel more than 20km each morning.  Anyone living closer lost out.  It took a couple of years and several court cases […]

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