German tax submission portal now available in English

German tax submission portal now available in English

In time for Steuererklärung season 2024, the online portal for tax declaration submissions in Germany, ELSTER, is now available in English.

ELSTER tax submission site now available in English

Freelancers can breathe a little sigh of relief; Germany’s ELSTER (ELektronische STeuerERklärung = electronic tax declaration), the tax submission portal designed by the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern), is newly available in English.

The new version should make the long, often bamboozling road to submitting an annual tax form a little easier for those who do not speak German as their first language. However, translated courtesy of DeepL, the English version of the site doesn’t shy away from a sometimes absurd style at best, and opens up new areas for confusion at worst.

What might read as a futuristic statement in Germany’s paper-heavy society, becomes the voice of a now animate ELSTER, proudly telling English-speaking visitors to the homepage, “I do my taxes online!” and just in case you don’t know what that means, “No printing or postage”. 

While it may be a step in the right direction for a system which is infamously confusing - even for those doing it in their native language - the English-language ELSTER does have further limits; many of the more detailed pages and explainer videos are still only available in German.

Who has to submit a tax declaration in Germany and when?

In Germany, freelance and self-employed people are required to submit their annual tax declarations via ELSTER. People who work in full-time or part-time employment can also submit a return voluntarily and sometimes choose to do so in the hope that they will get some money back.

Before you can use ELSTER to submit your annual tax return, you need to register for a free account, you can use the activated eID function of your residence permit to do this.

The German tax year runs from January to December. If you are obligated to submit a tax return, you can submit it any time between January 1 and July 31 of the following year.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the filing deadlines for tax returns were extended, but they will return to normal after 2024. This means that the deadline for a 2023 tax return is September 2, 2024, but the deadline for a 2024 tax return will be around July 31, 2025.

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Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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