Which job search costs are tax deductible?

Deduct application costs: These 10 tips will save you money

Every job search is associated with expenses: application costs for folders, application photos, travel expenses, specialist literature, telephone calls, coaching and so on. That can quickly add up to a handsome amount. After all, there are ways to get money back from the state. You can deduct up to 1,000 euros from tax as income-related expenses without any evidence. Tips on how and to what extent you can claim your application costs on your tax return ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Application costs are advertising costs

The expenses that you have to spend in order to get a job in order to earn money are recognized as income-related expenses. This also includes all application costs. And that doesn't matter whether your application was successful or not. The only decisive factor is that the costs were incurred as part of the job search. So be sure to collect all receipts and receipts for these expenses. You can then state or deduct these application costs on your tax return.

Additional bonus: Employees now have more time if they want to deduct their application costs. Instead of submitting your tax return by the end of May as before, it is sufficient if it arrives at the tax office by July 31. If you do not make your tax return yourself, but place it in the hands of a tax advisor or income tax assistance association, they even have until the end of February of the year after next for the tax return for the assessment year.

Checklist: You can deduct these application costs

The application costs include all expenses. You can download the application costs checklist HERE free of charge as a PDF:

Application materials

Expenses for ...

  • Application folders
  • Transparent sleeves
  • stationery
  • Printer cartridges
  • Copies
  • Glue stick (for the application photo)
  • Pens, fountain pens (for signature)
  • envelopes
  • Postage stamps

Tip: Printers, scanners and monitors are considered peripheral devices and must be added together with the acquisition costs for your laptop or computer. Since these devices are also used privately, the tax office accepts a professional share of 50 percent. If you want to sell a higher percentage, you have to provide evidence of how many hours a day the devices are used professionally. You can also fully deduct computers, multifunctional devices (scanner, fax and printer in one) or other expensive devices as application costs. This applies provided that the devices do not exceed 952 euros (or 800 euros excluding VAT).

If the devices are more expensive, you can apply a "deduction for wear and tear" (Depreciation). Means: The device is depreciated over several years. The Federal Ministry of Finance determines the period of time over which you can write off items.


You can also deduct expenses for ...

Tip: The partial reimbursement of the costs for Internet access and mobile phone contracts has often been refused in recent years. Nevertheless, the following applies: The range of deductible costs is large and the attempt does not hurt. Certain professional groups usually have no problems getting their expenses recognized:

Research & Services

The application costs also include expenses for ...

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Magazines
  • Application guide
  • Computer software for application
  • Preparatory courses / seminars
  • Any translation costs
  • Certifications

Tip: The deductible application costs also include weekend editions of national daily newspapers such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which have a large job market.

Traveling expenses

You can also deduct expenses for ...

Tip: Pay particular attention to the travel expenses and meals allowances:

  • Travel allowance: A flat-rate travel allowance of 0.30 euros per kilometer driven is set for travel expenses to the job interview. Here, too, the note: Have the company confirm the number of kilometers in writing, for example on the letter of invitation or in a separate letter. In addition to fuel costs, the deductible application costs under travel expenses include bus and train tickets and parking fees.
  • Meal allowance: The tax office recognizes that catering on the go is more expensive than at home. For several years now, it has supported application costs with a meal allowance, which this year has risen to 14 euros. It applies when you are away from home between eight and 24 hours. There is also 14 euros for the day of arrival and departure. Anyone who is absent from home for more than 24 hours is supported with a flat rate of 28 euros. You can specify overnight stays - for example for remote job interviews - with 20 euros.

Where are the application costs entered?

It is often unclear, especially for young professionals, where the application costs are entered in the tax return. Since the application costs are part of the advertising costs, "Annex N" is required for this. It consists of three pages on which your income is initially recorded.

On the second page Enter your application or advertising costs and on the last page you can enter additional expenses if you have to pay for two households. If you cannot manage with the space for your application costs, you can also make a note under “Other income-related expenses” with “See attachment”.

Proof of expenses and applications

If you want to deduct application costs, you should be able to provide evidence of your expenses. If you are unemployed, you may have to provide evidence of your own application efforts. It is best to enclose this list with the corresponding correspondence from the companies - i.e. confirmations of receipt and application rejections - with your tax return to the tax office. When you provide information, keep in mind that the travel costs that you have received from the company must be deducted from your application costs.

If there is no reaction from the tax office, you should enclose a copy of the cover letter with a handwritten note on the dispatch date and any questions you may have. Receipts and receipts for application and office materials should state the exact description of the purchased items so that you can deduct flat-rate application costs. You should also make sure that they are best stored in a dry and dark place (a shoebox is enough), as some types of paper (e.g. thermal paper) tend to fade quickly. You can be on the safe side if you make a copy beforehand.

Application costs can be deducted individually or as a lump sum

There are two ways in which you can deduct your application costs:

  • Individually
    You submit all receipts for your expenses.
  • flat-rate
    You specify lump sums for your application costs.

If you decide in favor of the flat rate, you should base your calculation on the flat rates estimated by the tax office. These flat rates vary between 10 to 15 euros per written application - excluding travel and accommodation costs - and around 2.50 euros per e-mail application. Some tax offices are also based on a judgment of the Cologne tax court. It accepts costs of 8.50 euros for written applications (FG Cologne, Az. 7 K 932/03). However, there is no entitlement to a flat rate per application. It is at the discretion of the clerk to what extent he recognizes the application costs in the tax return.

Please notethat the tax office generally only provides a flat rate of up to 1,000 euros for advertising expenses. You can only claim your specific expenses if your costs exceed this flat rate. So collect all the supporting documents and add the amounts together during the job search phase. You claim the lump sum up to 1,000 euros, then the sum of the receipts.

Online applications can also be deducted

Digitization does not stop at applications either. E-mail applications have long made up a large part of application efforts. As with online applications, there are no costs for postage and application folders.

Can application costs still be deducted? Short answer: yes. As mentioned above, there are still costs for the drive to the aptitude test or other expenses. As long as these expenses serve the purpose of taking up an employment relationship, they are taken into account. For example, you could attend an application seminar or get fit to look for a job with application coaching. Both count as application costs - and can be deducted.

Application costs flat rates at the employment office

Deducting application costs from tax is one option to reduce the financial burden. However, you will only get the money back with the tax assessment (if there is an additional payment). This may be too late for the unemployed or those with marginal part-time jobs. The alternative: ask at the employment office! Sometimes the job center also pays application costs. This applies in particular to reimbursement of travel expenses or appropriate clothing for the interview.

Danger: There is no legal entitlement to this. Rather, it is at the discretion of the clerk. Job seekers usually sign an integration agreement that, in consultation with the clerk, specifies the application efforts to be made. This can contain a reference to the amount of the application costs. The application is often remunerated at a flat rate of five euros. There is also a form in which the applications are entered. This serves as evidence of the expenses and efforts. A reimbursement of up to EUR 260 per year is possible. So make sure you clarify in advance what support you can count on so that you don't have to pay for the application costs unnecessarily.

More information about deductible expenses

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