A paper trail too taxing for the Finanzamt

So get this. I recently paid my 2011 taxes – thousands in hard-earned money – and the Finanzamt won't send me a receipt! Not even an oul' scrap of paper to say, “We got yer money, sucker, now fuck off and get back to work.”
No, not a peep out of them. They just take the money and, well, sit.
What gets my goat (in case you were wondering what happened him) is that this is the same Amt that demands forestloads of paperwork – receipts, invoices, contracts, bills, statements and anything with numbers or that might be considered a form – before it rouses itself to consider your existence.
Of course if you didn't pay your taxes, through forgetfulness or otherwise, they'd be on your back like hot snot, firing demands and solicitors' letters through your letterbox faster than a drone on crack in Pakistan.
But I didn't forget, nor did I hesitate, being the (mostly) law-abiding model citizen that I am, and had taken my mountain of paperwork to an accountant back in January. (There was no way in hell I could figure out all that bureaucracy alone. I tried, but it was futile.)
She needed more forms, so I'd to go back to her in February. She needed more forms, so I'd to go back to her in March. She needed more forms, so – no, she had enough in April – so we met again and I scrawled my scrawl and we sent the whole lot off.
Not a thing from the Finanzamt for months. Eventually I wondered if they wanted any taxes at all. (Being officially self-employed, I put money aside every month, and I was keen to know if I'd saved enough, if I'd have anything left over, or if I'd have to fork out more than I'd saved, ushering in the excitement of a life of crime.)
Like I said, there wasn't a peep from them, nothing. So I asked the accountant in September what the story was, she rang the Finanzamt and found they were still working on it.
“Sie hat sich, glaube ich, ein bisschen gewundert, dass Du Dein Geld so dringend los werden möchtest....”
(I think they were a little surprised that you were so desperate to get rid of your money....)
They weren't surprised for long. The bill came a couple of weeks later. I promptly paid it, by bank transfer into their account. Now, it was a sizable sum of money, not colossal, but I didn't transfer it lightly. Still, I was surprised at the lack of endorphins it released.
I was a little anxious in case I sent it to the wrong account, in case I got a number wrong somewhere, in case I had unwittingly made a generous donation to some undeserving soul who'd as likely give it back an Irish businessman.
So I got back in touch with the accountant, who evidently has the patience of a saint, and she told me that the “Finanzamt doesn't send a receipt or acknowledgment when the money arrives.
“In any case, if something didn't work out you'll get a warning from the FA about a month after the due date.”
So that was it. I didn't know if some fucker was living it up in Monaco at my expense, or if I'd have to pay my taxes again.
A fucking receipt! Is that too much to ask for?!
The accountant seemed surprised by my outrageous demands, but she's a good egg, and she took action.
“Right, because you were so worried, we simply rang the Finanzamt and: The money's there. Everything's cool....”
So I was relieved. But I think I'm entitled to ask once again: Is a receipt too much to ask?


  1. I don't know how much an accountant charges, but as long as you've got a simple return as a salaried employee with the usual deductions with not too much freelance on the side, I find the people at Deutsche Lohnsteuerhilfe to be pretty, uh, hilfful. Not so much for the filling the blanks stuff that anyone can do, but in dealing with the Finanzamters should they come back with questions, hit you with an unreasonable assessment, etc. They base their fees on what you earn and compared with a Steuerberater, they're very much affordable.
    - ian in hamburg

    1. My system is that I work as a freelance, and then invoice my employer for the work I do. I guess it's cheaper for them - they don't have to pay insurance, pensions or any other benefits.
      So the return is anything but simple! The accountant was pretty good I reckon. She wanted a map of our Wohnung so she could declare part of it my working-from-home-office, thus making some of our rent tax-deductible. There were also other expenses I'd never have thought of, like ink cartridges, bike repairs, train tickets, hotel bills...
      I'm not quite in the Mitt Romney league of paying no taxes at all, but I reckon this accountant paid for herself in the amount of tax she saved me from paying. Maybe she didn't, I don't know, but at least she filled in all the forms. I'll be going back to her again next year.


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