Those who thought they had escaped the burden of paying taxes for the rest of their lives by retiring have made a mistake. What many people don't know: a change in the law regulates everything anew. In the next few weeks, the tax office will be sending out mail to all the pensioners in the bamberg area to draw their attention to the outstanding tax returns.
With the 2005 retirement income act, many previously tax-exempt retirees now have to pay taxes after all. For a long time, the nature and amount of the respective pensions could not be seen by the authorities. For seven years there was passivity on the part of the tax office. But in the meantime, the authorities have ways to target the pensioners – and are now using them.
What has changed in the law? There is a widespread misconception that pensioners "now suddenly" have to pay taxes taxes had to pay. In fact, they always have to. Only the percentage of the taxable pension was so low that the tax to be paid was so low that it was below the basic tax-free amount and thus did not have to be paid. Naturally, this also meant that no tax declaration had to be submitted.
Since 2005 the part of the taxable pension has increased and it will increase again every year until in 2021 the pension will be fully taxed. The higher the pension, the higher the likelihood that taxes will no longer be within the basic allowance and will actually have to be paid. "It is not possible to give a general indication of who has to pay tax and who doesn't, because the type of pension also plays a role," explains hans waldbach, woman vera jackowski, deputy press officer at the bavarian state tax office. Whether it's a widow's pension, a life pension or a pension for surviving dependants: they all have their own regulations. That's why it pays to consult an expert.
"Many obligated persons have not yet become active. Some out of ignorance, others because they want to wait until the tax office "takes care of itself", explains hans waldbach, head of the advisory office of lohnsteuerhilfe bavaria e.V. In bamberg. That's why "ruhrt" the tax office now. Since the fall of 2009, there has been an exchange of data between the tax offices and pension insurance companies: thanks to an identification number, the tax offices can now see the type and amount of the pension and thus write specifically to the pensioners who are liable for tax.
Up to seven tax returns due
Vera jackowski confirms this: "before the introduction of the identification number, it would not have been possible to determine who among the pensioners would now have to pay taxes and who would not." As pensions are gradually taxed at a higher rate each year, the number of pensioners who no longer fall under the basic tax-free allowance is also increasing. "Who gets such a letter in a few weeks, for him it is the very highest railroad", the head of the advisory office warns, "because then up to seven tax declarations from the last few years can become due retrospectively."
For pensioners in particular, it is often difficult to spontaneously retrieve all the necessary documents, perhaps even those from several years ago. If the tax office requests the submission of a tax return, but the payer does not take action, the office is forced to estimate the amount to be paid. It is bad for the taxpayer, because the office does not take into account the possibilities with which the pensioner could save taxes. In addition, interest will then accrue on the additional payment and in rare cases there is even the threat of a bailout.
Refunds are also conceivable
The tax return, rather than being a burdensome obligation, can also be seen as a welcome opportunity to recoup money you may have overpaid. "I remember a serious case in which a client had 14.000 euros back for four years. This is rare in the high. But often the payers get several thousand euros back for a few years", so hans waldbach. Often, said waldbach, older people with a very low pension still have assets in the bank. Because of the low pension you are far below the basic allowance. However, the full withholding tax will be paid on the interest coupons. This could then be partially reclaimed.
In any case, it can be helpful to consult a professional in order to gain clarity about one's own obligations and rights. Even after receiving a letter, it's not worth getting mad, as hans waldbach said: "most people imagine the situation to be more dramatic than it actually is." Nevertheless, he advised to take action quickly. In the case of elderly people who live in a home and have no family or friends, the caregivers have the task of contacting a tax office or the "lohi" on behalf of the senior citizen to turn.