How do I set a tax charge

Compliance & Law

For many years it has been possible not only to submit tax returns on the original forms, but also to print out the forms yourself. How exactly the self-printed forms should look like, the tax authorities have always drawn up rules that have been updated by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

In the past, the rules should ensure that the self-printed forms are as similar as possible to the original forms in terms of handling. Accordingly, the sheets had to be printed on both sides and, in the case of multi-page forms, also stapled, glued or otherwise connected in the middle.

In the meantime, the computer age has also found its way into tax offices: tax returns are now often scanned and digitized. Accordingly, the new rules require exactly the opposite, because stapled or glued sheets have to be separated again for the scanning process. Most of the rules in the new administrative instructions concern technical specifications that the providers of software or PDF files must observe and over which you have no influence. In any case, the user himself must ensure that certain requirements are adhered to, because the software has no influence on this:

  • The paper quality and the paper format (DIN A4) must correspond to the official forms.

  • The self-printed forms must match the official forms in terms of the number of pages and the order of the pages. The forms must therefore be submitted in full (i.e. including the pages on which no entries have been made) to the tax office.

  • If possible, the printout should no longer be double-sided. Depending on the paper quality used, the data on the back could otherwise be visible on the front, which disrupts the scanning process in the tax office. In addition, the pages may no longer be connected to one another.

  • We want the printout to be black and white so the items that were light and dark green on the original form are printed in gray and black instead.

  • Ultimately, the paper and print quality should be such that the printouts are durable and legible for at least 15 years.

  • The fact that the tax authorities are serious about their requirements is shown by an instruction from the Koblenz regional finance office on how to deal with illegible tax returns. The Oberfinanzdirektion (Oberfinanzdirektion) has found that the tax offices are increasingly receiving declarations in which the print quality has been saved, which significantly affects their legibility.

Tax offices are allowed to reject declarations

The tax offices are therefore instructed to reject the declarations after assessing the circumstances in each individual case. This means that the tax return is deemed not to have been submitted, which can have expensive consequences depending on the case. To be on the safe side, you shouldn't be stingy when printing tax forms and shouldn't use the printer's toner or ink saving function. (oe)