Moving to a new country is always daunting, but dealing with taxation probably sits at the top of the “Oh My God” list for most of us expats, especially given that German taxation is notoriously complex even for German speakers. Rightly or wrongly, I relied on my employer to get it right although my payslips always used to mystify me given that they were a full A4 sheet of seemingly endless deductions.
However, in my case, matters were further complicated by the fact that I had an investment property in Berlin and a small business. All this meant doing income tax and VAT returns which have to be done electronically in German. To attempt to do it myself would have been a recipe for disaster, so I decided to employ a professional.
I was living in the city of Essen at the time and after a bit of hunting I found a local accountant called Carsten Greiwe. I have been using Carsten for four years now, and I will happily admit he has been worth his weight in gold. He has handled all my income tax and VAT matters, calmed the ruffled feathers of the tax office when I myself made a bit of a cock up plus he has given me stacks of advice on my tax position and how to legitimately minimise my liability. No longer do I have sleepless nights worrying that I may be paying more tax than is necessary or have unwittingly fallen foul of the complex German tax laws.
Despite the fact that he is based in Essen and I am now between Zell and Kuwait, I continue to use him to handle all of my tax affairs and it is usually all done by email which is great for me. He speaks perfect English and his website can be found by clicking here.
So, unless you are fluent in German, I strongly suggest you leave all of your tax matters to the professionals as it will save you an awful lot of bother later on, and I can definitely recommend Carsten.