German tax return Elster. Anlage Sonderausgaben

Last Updated on October 10, 2023

“Special expenses” (Sonderausgaben) used to be in the Mantelbogen of the German tax declaration. Now they have been taken out in a separate application Anlage Sonderausgaben. Lines are in a different order now.
Application content: chirch tax, donations, expenses for first education, maintenance of other persons.

All I can return from tax: A-D, E-H, I-N, P-W
Anlage N Part 1, Part 2, Anlage N-Aus, Anlage Wa-Est, Homeoffice
Anlage Kind
Anlage Vorsorgeaufwand
Anlage Sonderausgaben
Anlage Haushaltnahe Diensleistungen 35a
Who should file a tax return in Germany
Pre-filled declaration in Elster
How to calculate tax in Germany. What is written in Berechnung in Elster
Freiberufler in Germany: how to fill in Anlage S and Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung

Let me remind you that I am not a professional tax consultant. Declarations are considered from the point of view of an ordinary user: a family with children and one working person of average income.

Kirchensteuer (church tax)

We start with the church tax (previously line 42 of the main part). Its calculation is very difficult, so you need to enter not only the amount of tax paid, but also the amount of tax refunded.

Church tax is charged by:

  • Katholische Kirche
  • Evangelische Landeskirchen
  • Altkatholische Kirche
  • Judische Kultusgemeinden
  • Israelitische Religionsgemeinschaften
  • Freireligiose Gemeinden
  • Franzosische Kirche zu Berlin
  • Mennonitengemeinde in Hamburg-Altona
  • Unitarische Religionsgemeinschaft Freier Protestanten in Rheinland-Pfalz


Lines 5-12 (formerly 45-56 of the main body) – donations. You can deducted donations to the Verein and work for the Verein, which you refused to refund. But you cannot refund your membership in Verein.

More details – the topic “All German tax deductible expenses”

Separately, in the line 6 donations abroad and in the line 7 donations to political parties are indicated. Lines 9-12 are fund donations.

Expenses for the first professional education

The next section – expenses for the first professional education – up to 6,000 euros per year. Secondary education, practice and Azubi can be written off without limit at Werbungskosten Anlage N.

Unfortunately, expenses for the first education can only be written off in the year they were spent, and if there are no taxes, then there is nothing to write off. In this sense, a second education or Azibi is much more profitable: if there are no taxes, then you can formalize it as a loss and transfer it to another year.

Parents who pay for the education of their children can write off expenses in the amount of 924 euros (Anlage Kind). If the “child” have no right for the Kindergeld, then a significantly larger amount can be debited through the außergewönliche Belastungen.

Which expenses can be deducted – read a post All German tax refund. Part 2.

More about Anlage N, Anlage Kind

Maintenance of other persons

The last section is the maintenance of others. We are talking about a pension, for example, according to an individual company agreement. These are rare cases that are unlikely to be related to the average expat.

Maintenance of ex

Support for relatives whom you are required to support by law (children and parents), we write in the Anlage Unterhalt.

The maintenance of the former spouses is possible in two ways:

1. as Sonderausgaben in the Anlage Sonderausgaben plus Anlage U (it exists separately from the tax return), which is signed by the ex-partner (who, in turn, must enter these amounts into Anlage So)

2. as außergewöhnliche Belastungen (if the ex-partner refuses to sign the Anlage U) – in the Anlage Unterhalt. It is less profitable, since the deducted amount decreases with the growth of the income of the person being supported.

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