Value added tax; advance return
As a company, you usually have to submit advance sales tax returns to the tax office on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Sales tax is also commonly referred to as value added tax. It applies in particular to
- Deliveries and other services,
- the import of goods from non-EU countries - the resulting import VAT is collected by customs - and
- the purchase of goods from countries of the European Union, the so-called intra-community acquisition.
The amount of tax varies depending on the type of goods supplied or other services performed:
- general tax rate: 19 percent
- reduced tax rate: 7 percent, applies, for example, to
- the supply of almost all foodstuffs, with the exception of beverages and restaurant sales (note also the exceptions below),
- local passenger transport,
- the carriage of passengers by rail, and
- for sales of books and newspapers.
Due to the Corona pandemic, the following exemptions were or are in effect:
- temporary reduction of tax rates from 19 to 16 percent and from 7 to 5 percent from July 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020
- for restaurant and catering services - with the exception of beverages - was or is applicable
- from July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, the tax rate of 5 percent, and
- from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022, the 7 percent tax rate.
- Beginning January 1, 2023, restaurant and food services will be subject to the 19 percent tax rate.
You will have to pass on the sales tax for your business to the tax office. In return, however, you can regularly reclaim input tax, i.e. sales tax on incoming invoices. In the advance return, you calculate the difference.
Period of advance return
If the VAT for the previous calendar year exceeded EUR 7,500, you must submit advance VAT returns on a monthly basis in the current year.
If the total of the previous year's VAT exceeded EUR 1,000 and amounted to EUR 7,500, you must submit the advance return on a quarterly basis.
If it did not exceed EUR 1,000, the tax office may exempt you from submitting advance VAT returns. In this case, only one annual return must be submitted.
If there was a surplus in your favor of more than EUR 7,500 for the previous calendar year, you can choose the calendar month as the advance return period instead of the calendar quarter.
If you are the founder of a business and are starting a professional or commercial activity for the first time, you must submit monthly advance VAT returns in the year the business is founded and in the following calendar year. However, this regulation has been suspended for the years 2021 to 2026.
You are not required to submit a monthly advance VAT return when starting a new business if
- You only carry out sales that are exempt from sales tax and for which no input tax deduction is possible,
- you use the small business regulation or
- you make use of the special regulation for flat-rate farmers and foresters.
In the case of a new establishment in the years 2021 to 2026, the anticipated tax of the current calendar year is decisive with regard to the above-mentioned amount limits. In the following year, the actual tax of the previous year is to be converted into an annual tax.
- You are engaged in a commercial or professional activity on a self-employed basis. This is the case if you intend to generate income from it in the long term.
- Your company belongs to one of the following groups:
- natural persons, i.e. individuals, for example:
- craftsmen and craftswomen
- house owners with a photovoltaic system
- legal entities, for example:
- Public limited company
- Limited liability company (GmbH)
- registered association or foundation
- Associations of persons, for example:
- Civil law partnership (GbR)
- General partnership (OHG)
- limited partnership (KG).
You submit the advance return for sales tax electronically via the officially specified interface, for example
- with the free online product of the tax authorities "My ELSTER - Your Online Tax Office" or
- with a commercial tax program.
If you use "My ELSTER," proceed as follows:
- For example, visit "My ELSTER - Your Online Tax Office" on the Internet.
- Log in with your access data and your personal security procedure.
- Select the menu item "Advance return for sales tax".
- Select the relevant calendar year.
- In the following step, select the transfer of previous data or continue without data transfer.
- Enter your data on the following pages. "My ELSTER" will guide you through the entire procedure.
- At the end of the procedure, "My ELSTER" checks your data and calculates the advance VAT payment due or any surplus.
- Send the electronic advance VAT return.
- If an advance payment is due, you must transfer it to the relevant tax office by the due date, or you can give the tax office a SEPA direct debit mandate. You will automatically be reimbursed for any surplus.
Alternatively, you can also transfer the advance VAT return directly from a commercial tax program to ELSTER via the electronic interface.
This is a declaration or filing deadline.
You must submit the advance VAT returns no later than the 10th day after the end of the advance return period (month/quarter).
Upon request, the tax office can extend the deadline for submitting the advance returns and for paying the advance payments by one month (extension of the standing deadline).
If you submit the advance VAT return on a monthly basis, the granting of an extension of the standing deadline depends on you paying a special advance payment.
- Advance VAT return
- You may need to attach purchase invoices, contracts or similar documents, or send them separately.
This form has to be signed and sent to the responsible authority. You can sign the form manually and send it by email/fax or sign the form electronically with your qualified electronic signature an send it by (secure) email. If the responsible authority has set up a De-Mail account, you can also send the form by De-Mail using an sender-confirmed message.
Links to more information
Responsible for editing: Bundesministerium der Finanzen
- Online transactions, Bavaria-wide
- Online transactions, locally limited
- Prefillable Form, Bavaria-wide
- Legal bases, Bavaria-wide
- Legal bases, locally limited
- Fees, Bavaria-wide
- Fees, locally limited