Master German Expense Compliance with Mobilexpense

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German expense compliance with mobilexpense

Having shared a lot about German legal compliance these past few weeks, we thought now would be a good time to summarise the key aspects of German legal compliance.

There are three key points to business travel and expense compliance in Germany:

  • Daily allowances (per diems)
  • Mileage allowances
  • GoBD reporting and control.

Below is a guide with the main information to remember. We hope it is useful, let us know of other subjects you wish to know more about!

Daily Allowances (per diems)

In Germany, employees traveling for work for eight hours or more are entitled to daily allowances to cover their meals. This allowance is tax-free under certain conditions. The rates are fixed and depend on the destination (within Germany or abroad) and duration of travel, and are regulated by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Daily allowance amounts

The logic is the same for travel both within and outside of Germany:

  • Trips under 8 hours: no allowance
  • Trips between 8 and 24 hours: reduced allowance rate (14€ within Germany in 2021)
  • Trips over 24 hours: standard allowance rate (28€ within Germany in 2021).
NB: Travelers always receive a reduced allowance on the first and last day of multi-day trips, regardless of the duration of travel for that day.

Daily allowance deductions

Employees must apply deductions to their daily allowances for meals they have not paid for themselves. For example, if breakfast is included in their lodging cost (reimbursed by the employer) or if they are served lunch as part of an event, the deduction applies.

Regardless of the country, the following deductions apply:

  • 20% for breakfast
  • 40% for lunch
  • 40% for dinner

The 3-month rule

Daily allowances are only tax-free for up to three months of continuous business travel in a given location. This is the “3-month rule” or “3-Monatsfrist”.

Any stay lasting more than three days in a week is considered a “long stay”. Any further stay at the same location extends the “long stay” if there are less than 28 days between each of these further stays.

Allowances for “long stays” of more than three months become taxable for the employee receiving them.

Mileage allowances

Employers can choose to reimburse their employees for using their own vehicle for work with mileage allowances.

The following mileage rates ("Kilometerpauschale") apply for 2021:

  • Car: 0.30€/km
  • Motorcycle / scooter / moped: 0.20€/km
  • Bicycle: 0.05€/km

GoBD reporting & control

Reporting & e-archiving

The GoBD are the principles for the proper management and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form as well as for data access. They deal with the proper electronic storing of documentation and handling of tax relevant documents such as expenses.

The latest changes in the principles allow mobile scanning, digital storing (e-archiving) and the use of cloud systems for a paperless tax process.

Control

The GoBD also alludes to the compliance requirements regarding data access and the auditability of digital documents by the German tax authorities. There are three tiers to this access, and the tax authority can decide which access they must be provided during an audit:

  • Z1 - Direct read-only access
  • Z2 - Indirect access
  • Z3 - Data carrier release / data media transfer.

BONUS: VAT recovery

Companies which correctly abide by the GoBD regulation can apply a fully paperless accounting and tax process, including foreign VAT recovery. They can choose to either submit their own recovery claims, or appoint a VAT reclaim partner to do it for them.

Some of the most commonly eligible expenses for VAT recovery include:

  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Conferences and events
  • Training
  • Marketing.

With numerous customers active in Germany, mobilexpense has mastered the country’s expense compliance requirements. Our Compliance Department actively monitors compliance updates from 60+ countries and updates the solution with the latest changes. From allowances to GoBD principles all the way to integrated VAT reclaim, we guarantee our customers peace of mind and hassle-free expensing.

Whether you are a German company or a multinational active in Germany, mobilexpense has the right compliance solution for you.

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Get in touch to find out how mobilexpense can help you with your compliance needs.

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Posted on 09 Aug 2021