Tax check for pensioners helps save cash
- The income tax assistance society Vereinigte Lohnsteuerhilfe e.V. and Deutsche Post's Pension Service offer joint service on tax issues
- Website www.rentenservice.de offers help and information
Do I need to file a tax return or not? That is the question more and more pensioners who have rarely had to have any kind of dealings with the Finanzamt (German tax department) until now are asking themselves.
However, the Alterseinkünftegesetz (German retirement income act) requires approximately 3.5 million pension recipients to file a return. The fact that the Department of Finance will in future know about pensioners' income because it can exchange data with other departments has made this a particularly explosive issue. Many of those affected are unclear about the legal position - and hence also about the tax relief options that are often available to them.
Two strong partners
This is where a new co-operation between two strong partners comes into the picture. Germany's largest income tax assistance society, Vereinigte Lohnsteuerhilfe e. V. (VLH), and Deutsche Post AG's Pension Service have set up a joint online service. VLH's experts have set up the so-called 'tax check' on the Pension Service's service platform, www.rentenservice.de and it can be used by pensioners and helpful family members with internet access free of charge as of now.
'With the tax check, every pension recipient can individually ascertain, by doing a quick verification, whether or not he or she falls under the requirement to file a return. If it transpires that the pensioner probably is required to do so, he or she can call into any one of VLH's local advisory centres nationwide, where the facts can be verified based on the relevant tax documentation and all the details', explains Jörg Strötzel, chairman of VLH's board of management. 'In any case, verification of whether or not they are required to file a return is free of charge for pensioners', Mr Strötzel continues.
Appointments can be arranged by telephone. Pensioners can also find out where the nearest VLH advisory centre is by visiting www.rentenservice.de/steuern or by calling +49 (0)1805 900420 (calls cost EUR0.14 per minute when calling from a German land line; mobile phone charges may differ).
VLH and Deutsche Post's Pension Service have a special offer for pensioners who avail themselves of VLH's advisory services if it transpires that they are required to file a return. When they present their pensioner's identity card, the joining fee, which is currently EUR10, is waived.
Valuable and useful information
'Our aim is to provide pensioners with valuable and useful information. With this co-operation, we are acting in the interests of pensioners and are championing their concerns', explains Uwe Ringling, manager of the Pension Service Branch.
In addition to the 'tax check', pensioners receive useful information and tips on all aspects of pensioners' tax liability and the Alterseinkünftegesetz in the latest issue of 'topic of the month' at www.rentenservice.de/steuern.
By expanding the portal, the Pension Service and various initiatives of the German federal government and the European Union are aiming to make using the internet simpler for pensioners.