Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof)

Bundesfinanzhof BFH BLOMBERG München


The Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof [BFH]) in Munich is the highest finance court in Germany. Even the BFH acknowledges that appealing to Munich can lead to success. Taxpayers have a success rate of 44 percent in appeal proceedings.

Interested only in legal matters

Only points of law are heard before the Bundesfinanzhof. The Munich judges are not interested in the question of whether a particular event took place in one way or the other. They rely entirely on the findings of the tax courts.

The art of top-level court proceedings

If your legal dispute with the tax authorities is to be decided by the Federal Fiscal Court, it is usually a difficult and important legal question that has not yet been adjudicated by the highest court. In any case, sophisticated legal argumentation is required before the Bundesfinanzhof.

Proceedings before the Bundesfinanzhof are something for the most meticulous minds in tax law. The judges who decide on your case tend to be leading authorities in the relevant field of law. You have to engage them at eye level to be taken seriously.

Amount in dispute

The amount you are contesting with the revenue authorities before the Federal Fiscal Court can range from a few euros to several million euros. There is no minimum amount in dispute.

Access to Germany’s Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof)

Proceedings before the Bundesfinanzhof are possible only if an appeal is expressly permitted. This is conceivable in two situations:

Scenario 1: The tax court allows the appeal

A tax court may allow an appeal. This generally happens when a tax court is of the opinion that the proceedings raise legal issues that have not yet been settled by the court rulings of the Bundesfinanzhof – or if a tax court wishes to deviate from the decision of another court with its decision (section 115 of the Fiscal Court Code [Finanzgerichtsordnung] {FGO}). The tax courts, however, are relatively reluctant to allow appeals.

If you want to appeal to the Federal Fiscal Court, you will have to figure out during the proceedings in tax court which legal issues are still unresolved and would therefore have to be settled by the Bundesfinanzhof if necessary. We would be happy to assess whether this course of action is promising.

Scenario 2: Appeal against denial of leave to appeal

As a rule, the tax courts do not allow appeals. Then the losing side must file an appeal against denial of leave to appeal with the Federal Fiscal Court. The grounds for an appeal against denial of leave to appeal are restricted by law. You can therefore only base your appeal on the fact that

  •  the ruling deviates from previous case law of the Federal Fiscal Court or other tax courts, or
  • it involves a legal question that has not yet been settled by the highest court, or
  • it is based on significant procedural errors.

In other words, you cannot claim that the tax court misinterpreted the facts.

Only if the Federal Fiscal Court comes to the conclusion that a ground of appeal exists will it allow the appeal. Otherwise, the appeal against denial of leave to appeal will be dismissed. The final decision is that made by the tax court.

Important: A particularly high amount in dispute is not a reason to be heard by the Federal Fiscal Court. The previous access to the second level of appeals due to a high amount in dispute (Streitwertrevision) has been abolished.


Appeal proceedings before the Federal Fiscal Court take about two years on average.

If a proceeding for leave to appeal has to be conducted first, you should allow an extra six months or so.

It may also happen that the Federal Fiscal Court does not make the final decision itself, but instead refers the case back to the tax court. In these cases, you have to go through yet another round at the tax court. However, experience shows that this round is much quicker than the first, since the facts of the case are essentially clear.



You may not represent yourself or file pleadings before the Federal Fiscal Court. Instead, representation by counsel is required, which means that you must be represented by a lawyer or tax advisor.


The Federal Fiscal Court, based in Munich, is one of the seven federal courts in Germany. It was established in 1950 and is the highest court of fiscal jurisdiction. The Federal Fiscal Court decides on all questions of tax law through its rulings and decisions. Germany’s Federal Court of Justice is the highest court only for criminal tax law. Municipal taxes are decided in the last instance by the highest administrative courts.

While the eleven specialised panels of the Federal Fiscal Court only deal with specific disputes between taxpayers and the tax authorities, their decisions have a significant impact on the tax realm in Germany. By publishing the rulings in the Federal Tax Gazette (BStBl II), the Federal Ministry of Finance instructs the tax offices to apply these rulings in comparable cases.