Appeals procedures

Einspruchsverfahren

Faulty tax assessment? Don’t simply accept it as fact!

Do you disagree with your tax assessment? The revenue office has treated you unjustly by disputing your tax return? Then let us enforce your rights together!

German tax law is complicated. Even the revenue office makes mistakes.

Taxation at the revenue office is a truly massive operation. Millions of taxpayers are assessed every year in Germany, which is quite a challenge. German tax law is one of the most complex in the world – it also changes quickly and frequently. Nevertheless, the revenue office is short-staffed. The German Supreme Audit Institution (Bundesrechnungshof) has repeatedly complained that the number of clerical staff is constantly falling, even though the workload is high and topics are constantly changing. It is therefore not surprising that incorrect tax assessments are issued from time to time (or even time and again).

Non-judicial procedure: Appealing your tax assessment

To take action against an incorrect tax assessment, you do not immediately have to file a suit. At first, lodging an appeal is enough. What is more, this non-judicial procedure is actually compulsory. The revenue office is thus given an opportunity to correct any errors itself. You can only sue if your appeal is unsuccessful and the revenue office does not amend your assessment.

Keep the following points in mind when you lodge an appeal:

  • Follow proper procedure. You must make your appeal in writing and file it with the revenue office that issued your tax assessment.
  • React quickly. If you want to take action against an incorrect assessment, you have to hurry. The appeal period is one month, starting on the day you are notified of the assessment – typically the day on which the tax assessment arrives in your mailbox.
  • Justify carefully. You do not have to justify your appeal, but you should do so. The law grants you two months to do this. You can therefore submit your justification even after the appeal period has expired – or let us submit it. If the revenue office disagrees with your tax return and you are considering taking action against the office, we strongly suggest that you file a comprehensive appeal within the appeal period, but do not specify a justification. This allows you to have the reasons for the revenue office’s tax assessment checked without much time pressure, giving you enough time to decide how to proceed.
  • Limit the damage. The strict legal deadlines are intended to ensure that the revenue office never waits long for a clear and reliable overview of the amounts of money it will receive. If you do not defend yourself in time, you will likely be locked into your incorrect tax assessment.
  • Have you missed the appeal period of one month? Please contact us! We will check whether we can still help you and, if possible, take the appropriate steps immediately.
Professional support pays off: Lone wolves have a hard time

The law leaves it up to the taxpayers to decide whether to consult a lawyer or tax consultant, or to represent themselves in the appeals procedure. In our experience, however, it is easier for the legal redress office to acknowledge a mistake made by their colleagues and correct the assessment if a tax dispute has been dealt with by specialised legal advisers.

Another advantage is that we, in many cases, can reach a compromise with the revenue office at this early stage. As a rule, authorities prove to be much more cooperative when a lawyer or tax adviser specialised in tax law is negotiating than a taxpayer acting alone.

Especially regarding complex matters in tax law, you will benefit from our professional expertise as early on as the appeals procedure. As lawyers and tax consultants, we examine the likelihood of winning a dispute with the tax authorities, and then make a clear recommendation for your course of action. If it is necessary and sensible, we will sue for your rights all the way to the Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof).

Please note that you will have to pay the assessed taxes even if you appeal the assessment. If the revenue office gives in or a judgement is passed in your favour, however, you will be refunded the tax – with interest.

Alternatively, we can apply to the revenue office to postpone the tax payment until the end of the appeals procedure. In many cases, revenue offices are open to such a request for suspension of enforcement.

Costs of the appeals procedure

The appeals procedure with the revenue office is free of charge for you, so if you decide to seek legal advice, you would only have to pay our fee.

It sounds absurd, but it’s true: in principle, costs are not reimbursed in appeals procedures. If your appeals procedure is unsuccessful yet you win the subsequent suit, the court can order that you also be reimbursed the costs of the appeals procedure.

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