5 Min.

Income Tax Statements: Everything You Need to Know!

Income tax statements are generally issued at the end of each year and include information about your salary, tax deductions, and social security contributions. You receive these from your employer at the end of February of the following year at the absolute latest. In this article, you'll learn more about what these statements include and why they are necessary.

What is an income tax statement?

As an employee, you receive a monthly pay slip (Gehaltsabrechnung) containing information about your salary, wage tax (Lohnsteuer), solidarity surcharges (Solidaritätszuschlag), church tax (Kirchensteuer), and social security contributions. This information is summed up in an income tax statement (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung) once per calendar year.

When will I receive my income tax statement?

Your employer is required to transmit your electronic income tax statement to your local tax office by the end of February following a given calendar year at the absolute latest. In addition, you must be provided with a print out version.

Note: If you terminate employment within the calendar year, you will probably receive your income tax statement earlier and if you were employed by multiple companies throughout the year, you will receive multiple income tax statements.

Why do I need an income tax statement?

Your income tax statement is an important document that provides information on how much income tax you’ve paid in the last calendar year, it is also the basis of your income tax return. As your employer provides your tax office with your electronic income tax statement data (referred to as eDaten), you no longer have to enter it in Form N of your tax return - unless you suspect the data either was not transmitted or is incorrect.

Can I find my tax number on my income tax statement?

No. You can, however, find your tax number (Steuernummer) on your last tax assessment notice (Steuerbescheid). If you haven’t yet received your own tax number, it’ll come with your first tax assessment notice.

You can find your tax identification number (Steuer-ID) in the left column of your income tax statement, as it must be used by your employer to transfer your income tax statement to the tax office electronically. Tax-IDs have been issued to all German residents from the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern) since 2008. Even newborn babies receive their Tax-ID per mail shortly after birth. Tax-IDs are valid for life and serve to simplify communication for all tax matters.

In this article, you can find out all you need to know about tax-IDs and tax numbers.

Your income tax statement is the basis of your income tax return.

Your 2022 income tax statement

Section 41b of the Income Tax Act (EStG) regulates the information that must be included in your income tax statement. This is what the 2022 income tax statement looks like.

In the left column of the statement, next to your employer’s address and tax number, you will find your wage tax deduction details (Elektronische Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmale), ELStAM for short. These details are stored at the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) and determine the tax amount that is deducted from your income. In 2013, ELStAM replaced paper income tax statements which lead to the name “electronic income tax statement.” The details listed include your:

  • Name, address, and birthday
  • Tax ID
  • eTIN
  • Personnel number
  • Tax class
  • Number of child allowances
  • Church tax details
  • Yearly tax-free allowance (if you applied for allowances for your wage tax deductions)
  • Yearly additional income (e.g. if you have several low-paying jobs at the same time)

In the right column you will find more information, including:

  • Duration of employment
  • Periods without wages (e.g. parental leave, unpaid leave for at least 5 consecutive working days)
  • Taxable gross wages (including taxable benefits in kind)
  • Withheld wage tax, church tax, solidarity surcharges
  • Contributions to statutory pension insurance and professional pension schemes (Rente)
  • Benefits related to pensions (e.g. retirement pension or widow’s/widower’s allowances)
  • Contributions to statutory or private health insurance (Krankenversicherung)
  • Contributions to nursing care insurance
  • Contributions to unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosengeld)
  • (Seasonal) short-term work benefits (Kurzarbeitergeld), maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsgeld), compensation for loss of earnings in accordance with the Infection Protection Act, tax-free top-up amounts, supplements for partial retirement, and tax-free supplements that your employer has provided on top of short-term work benefits.
  • Tax-free employer benefits (e.g. tax-free allowances for travel expenses or relocation costs in the case of a second household)
  • Severance packages (Abfindungen) or bonuses for several years of service – whether they are taxed at once or according to the One-Fifth Method (Fünftelregelung)

Tax Tip: As part of your tax return, the tax office automatically checks whether the five-percent rule for your severance pay is the more tax-efficient option for you.

What do the capital letters under number 2 mean?

  • Capital letter F: Tax-free transportation to your first workplace
  • Capital letter S: Your employer has calculated the wage tax on a miscellaneous payment (e.g. a Christmas bonus) and hasn’t included the wages from previous employments in the same calendar year
  • Capital letter M: If you were provided with meals while working away from home/in a second household, these meals are assessed as benefits in kind
  • Capital letters FR: If you are a cross-border commuter who lives in France but works in Germany (e.g. FR2 for employers based in Rhineland-Palatinate)

Certain information on your income tax statement indicates whether you are required to file a tax return. For example: if the capital letter S has been entered, if you received a severance package (Abfindung) taxed according to the one-fifth method, or if you and your spouse have chosen tax classes 3 and 5.

Entries under number 15 of your income tax statement also lead to a mandatory tax return: Wage replacement benefits (Lohnersatzleistungen) such as short-term work benefits (Kurzarbeit), short-term work benefit supplements, unemployment benefits I (ALG I), maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsgeld), and parental benefits (Elterngeld) are listed here. These benefits are subject to the so-called Progressionsvorbehalt.

You can find more information on mandatory tax assessment here.

Should I hang on to my income tax statements?

We recommend that you keep your income tax statements up until you retire. If your pension calculation happens to contain errors, your income tax statements prove the dates and amount of your wages – this is especially useful if you don’t have social security reports for your entire career. It is best to store all of these documents together along with your tax assessment notice of each calendar year.

Lost your income tax statement?

Employers are required by law to keep their employees' income tax statements for at least 10 years. If you lost or misplaced your income tax statement, simply request another print out from your employer. Alternatively, you can request it from your local tax office.