This is how you can get your ancillary costs refund with your tax return!


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Are your ancillary costs too high? Find out how you can get an ancillary costs refund with your annual tax return!

The tax return is at least as unpopular as the utility bill. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile for tenants to dig out the last operating expense statement to fill out the income tax return, because they can get an ancillary costs refund.

According to the Income Tax Act, 20% of certain ancillary costs can be deducted from income tax. The prerequisite is that the services involved are household-related or craftsmen’s services and that the applicable maximum amounts are not exceeded.

Examples of household services are:

  • Building cleaning
  • Clean windows
  • Garden maintenance
  • Winter service
  • Waste management (pre-sorting of rubbish)
  • Street cleaning
  • Caretaker
  • Pest Control

Craftsman services that can be deducted from tax in connection with ancillary cost settlement are, for example:

  • Maintenance work on electrical, gas or water installations, sewage disposal, pumps, heating systems, fire extinguishers, lightning rods, lifts, shared machines (e.g. washing machines, dryers), garbage chutes, CO2 warning devices (fire alarms)
  • Sweeping, maintenance and repair work of the chimney sweep (fireplace inspection, testing and measuring work are excluded)
  • Graffiti removal
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Exchange of consumption meters
  • Drain cleaning
ancillary costs refund

However, tenants cannot apply the full operating cost items for tax purposes. Only labor costs excluding VAT, including travel costs, machine costs, costs for consumables and disposal costs, may be stated. Material, goods or delivery costs cannot be deducted, as can costs for administration or waste disposal.

The same applies if tenants hire craftsmen at their own expense. In this way, all tradesman services that were used in connection with renovation, maintenance or modernization measures of the apartment can also be claimed for tax purposes. This includes, for example, repair or modernization work on the roof, facade, walls, windows, doors or floor coverings.

It is important that the different cost items, such as labor or material costs, are shown separately on the receipts that are submitted with the income tax. Only then can the tax office grant tax breaks. You can ask your landlord or the craftsman you have commissioned for a corresponding list.


What are the maximum amounts?

In the case of craftsmen’s services, costs of a maximum of 6,000 euros can be claimed in the tax return. This means that the maximum amount for the reimbursable costs is 1,200 euros per year. 

In the case of household-related services, up to 20,000 euros can be specified, which results in a maximum tax deduction of a maximum of 4,000 euros. In the best case, tenants can reduce their tax burden by up to 5,200 euros each year.

In addition to the amount of the expenditure, the type of payment is also decisive. Only costs that have been paid by bank transfer or direct debit can be deducted. Unfortunately, those who pay their ancillary costs in cash have bad cards.

ancillary costs refund

1. Caretaker and building cleaning

For example, 20% of the ancillary costs for the work of a caretaker and building cleaning are deductible. These count as household-related services. Attention: It is often worthwhile first to check whether you have to pay these costs as incidental costs! 

If the cleaning of stairs, corridors and other common rooms is taken over by the caretaker himself, the cleaning costs cannot be deducted additionally. This is only possible if the work is carried out by another service provider.

2. Heating

Heating costs are only partially tax deductible. This is because only services from which 20% may be deducted in the tax return are benefited. 

Services that are incurred in connection with the heating and may appear in the ancillary cost statement include, for example, the maintenance and care of the heating or the oil tank system, the replacement of the meters according to the calibration law, heat reading or the costs of cleaning the chimney by the chimney sweeper. 

Consumption costs, which usually make up the lion’s share of heating costs, cannot be claimed.

3. Garden maintenance and pest control

As a rule, 20% of the additional costs for the garden maintenance of the outdoor facilities can also be taken into account in the tax return. This includes the costs of maintaining horticultural areas including the renewal of plants and the maintenance of spaces, entrances and driveways. However, if the caretaker takes care of the garden, the garden maintenance cannot be claimed in addition to the costs for the caretaker.

In contrast to gardening, pests such as mice, rats, ants, cockroaches or beetles usually do not have to be controlled regularly and repeatedly. Accordingly, the landlord can only allocate the costs for vermin control to the tenant in exceptional cases.Costs for vermin removal only appear in the annual utility bill if, for example, pest control is required for years. If the landlord transfers the costs of vermin control to the utility bill, tenants can claim these costs on their tax return.

Are you wondering whether it is really worth looking through your utility bill for your tax return?

In our sample calculation, we show how quickly tenants can save 400 euros in taxes.

A tenant has to bear the following costs with the utility bill:
500 euros personnel costs for caretakers
350 euros personnel
costs for stairwell cleaningv 400 euros costs of garden maintenance
750 euros costs for heating maintenance
With a total of 2000 euros, the result is: 400 euros (= 20%) tax savings for the tenant.

ancillary costs refund

4. Maintenance and repairs

In a residential building there are numerous facilities and systems that have to be regularly maintained and checked for functionality. As a rule, operating costs also include costs for necessary inspections of technical systems. 

Maintenance work occurs regularly and is therefore part of the apportionable operating costs that the landlord can settle with the tenants. The maintenance costs incurred as ancillary costs can also be deducted at 20% from the tax return.

This includes, for example, costs for the maintenance of heating systems, elevators, fire extinguishers, CO2 warning devices, pumps, lightning protection systems or other technical devices. 

In contrast to maintenance costs, repair costs must not appear in the utility bill, but must be borne by the landlord. However, if the tenant hires a craftsman on their own account, for example to have small repairs or cosmetic repairs carried out in the apartment, then he can claim his expenses on the tax return.

5. Street cleaning and winter service

Landlords can pass on costs for street cleaning as well as winter service to their tenants with the utility bill. Tenants cannot claim the public street cleaning fees on their income tax return. However, if the landlord engages an external service provider to carry out winter services such as snow clearing and gritting, tenants can also take 20% of the personnel costs into account in their tax return. 

Here, too, it is a condition that this winter service is not taken over by the caretaker and that personnel and material costs are shown individually in the ancillary costs statement.

Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany



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