Traveling expenses

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Travel costs are all costs that arise in connection with a trip , such as transport costs (travel costs for car, train, plane or ship), accommodation costs , additional meals and additional travel costs .

Operating expenses / advertising expenses

Whether and to what extent travel expenses are tax-deductible depends on whether the trip is business-related or business-related. If there is a professional or operational reason, the travel costs for self-employed are business expenses or for employees, income-related expenses . If costs are reimbursed, however, there are delimitation issues for business trips by employees .

ride costs

The traveler is free to choose the means of transport . When using a rental car or public transport (plane, train, local transport, ferry), the expenses are deductible in the proven amount. If the traveler uses a company car for the business trip , the expenses are included in the operating expenses of the employer or entrepreneur . If, on the other hand, he uses a private vehicle, there are various options to choose from: a) Deduction of the proportionate actual costs according to the individual statement, b) Deduction of a vehicle-specific kilometer rate determined on the basis of actual costs, or c) Deduction of a mileage allowance of 0.30 € per car-kilometer driven (in Austria € 0.35 per km, from 2008 € 0.42 per km). When using a motorcycle - see below. (R 9.5 LStR 2011, in conjunction with § 5 II BRKG)

To a) The individual proof requires that the total costs of the vehicle, the annual mileage and the professional kilometers driven are proven by means of a logbook. Proof of the actual expenses can also be provided by recording all expenses (taxes, liability, comprehensive insurance, depreciation, operating costs, repairs and care service) in simple records and supporting them with receipts.

Regarding b) A flat rate presupposes that the number of kilometers traveled on a business trip is recorded (e.g. in a logbook or in the travel expense report). The vehicle-specific kilometer rate can be determined by individual verification over a period of 12 months and can also be used in the following years - until there is a significant change in the situation.

Re c) The German kilometer flat rate is € 0.30 for cars and € 0.20 for motorcycles and scooters. The mileage allowance for bicycles or other people is no longer applicable as of January 1, 2014.

From July 1, 2008, the kilometer flat rate for motor vehicles in Austria is € 0.42. For passengers transported, € 0.05 and for the use of a motorcycle € 0.24 can be claimed. The restriction to motorcycles over 250 cm³ no longer applies as of January 1, 2011. Bicycles are not provided.

These lump sums cover all expenses normally associated with the operation of the vehicle, in particular vehicle taxes, insurance premiums, normal repair costs, expenses for the garage and the interest on a loan for the purchase of a car. However, expenses that are by their nature are not covered are extraordinary and unpredictable. In particular, damage caused by accidents (on business trips) and expenses as a result of vehicle theft are deductible.

The travel costs include the expenses for outward and return journeys, journeys at the destination and for journeys home in between for longer business (business) trips.

Since the lump sum is lower than the actual expenses in view of the constantly increasing vehicle costs, it is advisable to provide evidence of the actual costs in cases in which the private car is not only used occasionally for business trips.

The expenses for trips between home and first place of work are not travel expenses. If an employee drives from home to work in the morning and then goes on a business trip (e.g. visits customers or suppliers on behalf of the employer) in order to return home immediately after completing these tasks, the total distance must be divided up: for the morning trip between Home and work place half the statutory distance lump sum and the distance traveled on the occasion of the business trip and the subsequent distance home must be taken into account in accordance with travel cost principles.

Accommodation costs

The costs actually incurred (hotel, hostel, guest room, apartment and second home ) are to be recognized as accommodation costs . Additional costs for the overnight stay (garage, minibar, television, telephone) are not overnight costs. If the cost share for breakfast cannot be determined, the total amount for an overnight stay in Germany must be reduced by EUR 4.80 (20% of EUR 24) and for an overnight stay abroad by 20% of the flat rate for additional meals applicable in the country concerned .

Example: A domestic hotel bill reads “Bed and breakfast € 106.50”. To determine the accommodation costs, 20% of € 24, ie € 4.80 must be deducted. Tax-free replaceable costs of accommodation are i. H. v. € 101.70 before.

In the case of overnight stays in Germany, the accommodation costs must always be proven in detail. They can be estimated if they have arisen beyond any doubt (→ BFH of September 12, 2001 - BStBl II p. 775). The overnight flat rate of EUR 20.00 often mentioned in this context only refers to the possibility of tax-free reimbursement of expenses by the employer described below . In most cases, however, it is also recognized by the tax authorities, except for overnight stays in the vehicle.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the costs actually incurred may not be mixed with the overnight flat rate in one trip.

Meal expenses

Additional costs for meals that a person has to bear during a work-related activity outside their own home and outside their first place of work are referred to as additional meal expenses. Depending on the employment relationship, this additional expense can be claimed as business expenses ( Section 4 (5) sentence 1 No. 5 EStG ) or as business expenses ( Section 9 (4a) EStG). Since the determination of the actually incurred additional expenses is too time-consuming or not possible in individual cases, the German travel expense law provides for lump sums that can be claimed depending on the duration of the trip and the destination. For more information see under additional meals .

Travel expenses

On the occasion of a business trip, the various charges are possible: Hotel garage, professional telephone calls or fax transmissions, parking fees, tolls, airfare and cost of Fährtransportes, as related rebooking - or cancellation costs. Documentary evidence is a prerequisite for the deductibility of these costs. Charges for luggage storage, parking meters, tips and the like can be made credible by self-evidence .

Reimbursement of travel expenses by the employer

Travel expenses incurred by an employee can be reimbursed tax-free by the employer ( Section 3 No. 13 or No. 16 EStG). The travel expenses that the employer has reimbursed tax-free are no longer deductible as income-related expenses as part of the income tax assessment ( Section 3c (1) EStG).

The employer can stipulate that only the cheapest alternative is used as the basis for reimbursement. Then he must, however, also the resulting additional times z. B. endure for the use of public transport.

A distinction must be made between the actual costs incurred, which are tax-deductible, and the costs reimbursed by the employer, which may be lower in accordance with the employer’s travel cost regulations (especially in the public sector and public corporations). The difference can be claimed in the income tax return. To do this, the employee must submit a copy of the statement and the reimbursement postings and the employer must be able to present the original receipts to the employee's tax office in accordance with the tax code (AO).

ride costs

The maximum travel costs that can be reimbursed are the costs actually incurred (by plane, train and public transport, ferry or taxi). If the employee carries out the external activity with his own vehicle, the employer can charge travel expenses e.g. B. reimbursement tax-free for a car registered in Germany of up to 0.30 € / km.

Additional travel costs

Incidental travel costs are also incidental travel costs. Parking and road fees are reimbursable like travel expenses. This also includes displays for road maps, typical vehicle cleaning products and vehicle-specific consumables.

Accident costs

Accident costs are billed to the initiator of the trip, costs from the deductible are also borne by the initiator of the trip. The employer can only refuse to pay the accident costs in the case of gross negligence determined by a court.

Accommodation costs

The costs are reimbursed in the proven amount. The employer can also set a flat rate of € 20 per night for domestic accommodation costs if it is certain that the employee has stayed abroad and that he has actually incurred costs. Overnight stays in one's own home (e.g. second home), in a vehicle (e.g. long-distance drivers stay overnight in a truck) or in the accommodation provided by the employer (e.g. construction worker stays in the employer's construction container) have not been considered so far Reimbursement permitted. However, since January 1, 2008, this rule has been defined differently.

Meal expenses

As compensation for the work-related additional expenses for meals tax packages for can meal allowances are paid tax-free.

Travel expenses for public sector employees

For civil servants , soldiers , judges and employees of the public sector in Germany , the travel costs of the employer or the employer has to bear when Nebengebührnisse by the Federal Travel Expenses Act regulated or travel expenses laws of individual states.

Incorrect billing

The employee is personally responsible for checking his own accounts. Deliberate and willful false information or the acceptance of deception or damage to the employer through incorrect information, for example, justify termination without notice under German labor law . Incorrect expense reports have been cited in the media as the most common reason for employers to terminate their contracts in conflict situations.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Doris-Maria Schuster: Can I be dismissed because of expense reports? In: FAZ. March 16, 2014, accessed June 30, 2019 .
  2. Susanne Schier: When small sins can cost the job. In: Handelsblatt. Retrieved June 30, 2019 .