German tax law is in a constant state of flux; after months of coalition negotiations, the government is functioning once again, and 2018 sees another Annual Tax Act. It focusses, once again, on share deals in terms of both the land transfer tax and income tax. Key topics such as the appropriate rate of interest on shareholder loans (keywords: general group recourse), or the repayment of contributions from non-EU countries, have gained in momentum. In the area of the recognition of liquidation losses from equity investments held in private assets and losses from loans, the rulings of the German Federal Fiscal Court (BFH) show a positive trend. At the moment, there is also hope that the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH) will change its mind in the area of commercial infection. This article aims to highlight the key developments and their relevance for the practice.
Real estate lessors whose property is vacant for a longer period can reclaim a part of their paid property tax on real-estate.
How to apply for the refund of property tax on real-estate?
The major requirement for the refund is a significant drop in rent income – mostly triggered by vacancies – which besides must not be provoked by action of the real estate owner. The benchmark for such reduction in rent income is the common rent for assets of same type, location and fitting. Therefore the refund is not granted in case the lessor terminated the rent contract during the relevant period i.e. with the target to execute an asset refurbishment. Requirements are subject to a close review of the tax authority.
Furthermore the lessor must prove that he has undertaken action to achieve a letting at a market oriented price. Documentation at an early stage of the attempts to find new tenants is highly recommended.
Which form and due time need to be considered for the application?
The request for the refund of the property tax on real-estate can be made informally at the municipal town or city authorities.
In the federal city states Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg the application should be addressed to the tax authority. The deadline – which cannot be extended – is always the 31st March of the following year. An extension of the deadline is impossible (cut-off date).
How much will be refunded?
In case that the reduction in rent-income is more than 50% a 25% discount of the property tax on real estate will be granted. If the asset was completely vacant in the relevant period 50% of the property tax on real estate will be refunded.