What is the best reimbursement software?

Tax apps and tax software in the test and comparison

Although the income tax return is voluntary for many professions, it is still advisable to create it and submit it to the responsible tax office. On average, 90 percent of all persons subject to income tax can expect a repayment, often in the four-digit range. The “entry barrier” for such an income tax return has now been significantly reduced: thanks to practical software solutions that laypeople can quickly find their way into. In addition, tax offices now do without paper evidence for electronically transmitted tax returns.

Tax return: There are many ways to get to the tax office

It is well known that “all roads lead to Rome”, but many of them also lead to the tax office. It wasn't that long ago that lay tax returns were filed Mystery. Not only do you expect a large number of pages, the "civil servant's German" used there was not necessarily conducive to the plan to do the tax return yourself.

Today it is mainly private individuals who enjoy one large selectionhow the tax return is prepared and submitted. They can be divided into these four areas:

  • Commissioning a tax office or tax advisor
  • Completion via the ELSTER form
  • Use of a control app on the PC
  • Use of a control app on a smartphone or tablet

Tax apps vs. classic tax returns

In this article we will look at the Tax appswhich is why options 1 and 2 are only briefly presented here. The ELSTER form is the official program of the tax offices; electronic transmission to the relevant regional tax office is possible via the ELSTER interface.

The tax products that submit the tax return directly also use the ELSTER interface. What they do differently, however, is the input mask itself. They provide ELSTER with a user interface that is understandable for laypeople and offer many other extras and functions. This means that these control software benefit from the identical ones Benefitswhich also offers a tax return directly in the ELSTER form:

  • A takeover of the data from the previous year
  • An advance tax calculation as a first orientation
  • The display of the data from the current tax assessment, for comparison with transmitted data
  • Possibility of using the "pre-filled tax return" (more on this later)
  • Plausibility check before submission in order to avoid later queries and misunderstandings

Tax office or tax consultant often associated with additional costs

At Tax advisors give the work to someone else's hands, which of course leads to costs that depend on the scope and income. Nowadays, hiring a specialist is no longer attractive, especially for employees. The costsresulting from no longer "deductible". The fee that he bills cannot be recorded in the income tax return at the same time. Instead, you have to pay the costs entirely out of pocket.

Mandatory assessment: who has to file a tax return at all?

A compulsory assessment means that the tax return not voluntarily is. she must timely be transmitted by the specified time. In the interest of these compulsorily assessed taxpayers, this is usually anyway, in order to assert income-related expenses and other items for tax purposes over the year - and thus to reclaim part of the income and wage tax amounts paid in advance.

These people have to file a tax return

  • Traders, self-employed and freelancers
  • Employees with additional income of more than 410 euros per year
  • Spouses and life partners in tax class V, VI or IV with factor
  • If an allowance is noted at the tax office, for example for childcare or commuters
  • Anyone who has multiple employers
  • Upon receipt of tax-free compensation payments of more than 410 euros per year

Voluntary donation is also worthwhile

Anyone who is not subject to compulsory assessment should not do without the tax return. Nowadays you support us so that you do not lose track of things when preparing your tax return practical apps - which even work on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Deadlines: By when do I have to submit my tax return?

  • If you are obliged to submit and prepare it yourself: Submit by July 31
  • If you are obliged to submit and hire a tax advisor or income tax aid association: Submit by 28/29 February of the year after next
  • If you submit your tax return voluntarily: Submit by December 31. Volunteers can file the tax return retrospectively for up to 4 years.

Control software for the PC in the test and comparison

In the previous section, we have already shown that the tax return can now be done either on a PC or smartphone. For many users, the walk becomes to the desk and to the own computer, still the most convenient option be. Handling on the PC simply has too many advantages, especially when you "rummage through" forms and have to fill in all the information with the greatest care.

Therefore, in this section you will learn which Opportunities on the PC have available. We will also show you for the respective program how this is done in different Testing of consumer magazines. First of all it should be said: The tax office doesn't carehow to do your tax return. There are therefore no official requirements. If you have already tried a software and were not completely satisfied with it, you could definitely look at another tax app.

1. WISO tax: savings account

The tax software published by buhl is a great all-rounder that has been the market leader for years. Like other tax software, the “WISO Tax: Sparbuch” is reissued annually. As a comprehensive solution, the software is suitable for Employees as well as for Pensioners, civil servants, self-employed or those who derive their income exclusively Investment income Respectively. There any type of income are supported, there are no restrictions on use.

The necessary Forms are included directly, for example:

  • Basic form for the income tax return for the respective year
  • Advance VAT return
  • Income surplus accounts for ancillary and small businesses
  • Income tax reductions
  • Business tax returns

The "tax: automatic" for an even easier handling

A function also praised by the trade press is the so-called "WISO tax: automatic". A number of functions are hidden behind the term, which conveniently relieve you of inputs:

  • With the "Import" You could, for example, take over tax entries from the previous year's version, alternatively from the ELSTER form and a few selected competing programs.
  • With "Retrieval" you can transfer data that is already stored at the tax office.
  • With "Banking" the program analyzes your bank account and posts relevant positions automatically.
  • With "Shipping" the tax return is sent electronically to the responsible tax office.

The “tax: automatic” makes it easier for laypeople in particular to deal with their tax returns, especially if they are preparing it themselves for the first time. If you don't want to use all functions, you can simply use them Deselect. For example, there is the option of using only "import" and "dispatch", but without further "automatic features". The license, which is acquired with the purchase price, includes all of them and can be used at will free of charge. In addition, buhl still binds Videos a. In these you will find practical explanations of individual items or parts of the form.

WISO tax: savings book in the test

In test reports in the trade press, WISO Steuer: Sparbuch is regularly used as a Test winner chosen. For example at WirtschaftsWoche (03/2018) or Focus Money Online (No. 8/2020). In the current test by ComputerBild (03/2020), the software received at least the second place - The top position is occupied by the "slimmed-down" little brother.

Facts about WISO tax: savings book

  • Price: 29.95 euros or 39.95 for the Mac version
  • Data import possible
  • Sample letters included
  • ELSTER interface is used
  • Works from Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.12
  • Suitable for every profession and every income (type and amount)
  • Editing possible on the PC as well as in the browser or via app on tablet or smartphone

The "submission obligation" is now a "reservation obligation"

If you decide to submit a tax return electronically using such a program, you usually do not have to submit the supporting documents - at least not until you are explicitly asked for it. The "submission obligation" has therefore been abolished, instead there is now the "reservation obligation". That means you get the Must submit evidence upon request. The deadlines for this vary: donation receipts for one year, for example, tradesman's bills up to two years, receipts for rented property for ten years. So make sure that you stow all the documents related to the tax return securely and easily findable.

2. Tax

The “little” brother of the predecessor, which has been “slimmed down” in terms of performance. “Tax” is not suitable for the self-employed, freelancers and tradespeople, but it is suitable for Employees, retirees and retirees. If you belong to the latter group, you could not only save yourself some money by purchasing "Tax", but you could also make entering your data easier.

How does tax work?

"Tax" works similarly to a interview. The program asks you various questions in dialogue form, which, thanks to their simple formulation, are easily understandable even for laypeople. This has the advantage that you don't even have to know where a certain expense or income ends up in the form. Instead, the software asks you and then adds your input automatically in the right place. In addition to the "dialog mode", you will of course also receive further explanationsheld in a small box on the right edge of the screen. Intuitive and understandable symbols ensure that you can quickly add individual selected items even after the "interview".

Ideal for simple cases

The WISO software is therefore also fully suitable if you do not want to spend that much time on your tax return or generally relatively simple income exist - for example, you only have one permanent employer (instead of several) with no additional income or investment income. If you only want to deduct some of your expenses, the reduction to the essentials shows its strengths. A transmission takes place electronically, of course, again via the ELSTER form.

Tax in the test

In the magazine ComputerBild (03/2020) "Tax" received the award for Test winner. It also proves it in many other tests Top positions.

Facts about Tax

  • Cost: 12.95 euros per year
  • Automatic transfer from the previous year, for example from ELSTER or another WISO software
  • Contains many forms, including the important pension provision, special expenses, extraordinary burdens, AV, N, child and maintenance (complete list from the provider)
  • Specially tailored to employees and the associated “simple” tax return
  • Practical dialogue and interview mode

3. Tax savings declaration

Published by “Akademische Arbeitsgemeinschaft”, the program is based on the scope of the high-performance WISO competitor. But those responsible go a slightly different way, because tax savings declarationdispense almost completely multimedia support. Videos, animations and the like are therefore not to be expected in large numbers, but instead a powerful, tidy interface. Tax savings declaration is suitable for both Trainees and students as well as Employees and self-employed.

Tax savings declaration in the test

In tests, for example in the WirtschaftsWoche (03/2018) or at ComputerBild (03/2020), the structured treatment of all cases praised. While “simple tax cases” such as employees benefit from the interview mode and a quick turnaround, self-employed, tradespeople and freelancers can look forward to a detailed but still simple discussion of their costs and income. Furthermore, the software was praised in the ComputerBild test mainly because not a single tested case was incorrectly calculated.

Facts about tax savings declarations

  • Costs: 29.95 euros, 24.95 euros as a subscription
  • Takeover from Elster, previous year's versions and a few competing products
  • Sober, not playful and time-saving structure
  • Very complex information in special tax cases
  • From Windows 8 or Mac OS X 10.12

4. Taxman

From Lexware, Taxman is primarily aimed at Workers and civil servants as well as to freelancers, tradespeople and the self-employed with minor cutbacks. Taxman stands out from other programs in particular because of the very simple structure of his forms from. What is an advantage for those who already have a little bit of experience with their tax, could be a small disadvantage for absolute laypeople. Sometimes not all questions are immediately cleared out of the way with some complex issues because the explanation is kept very brief. But that depends on personal preference and level of experience.

This is how Taxman works

The functions that are now standard, such as the Introductory interview, there is of course there too. The program also works with a intelligent printing function, with which, for example, fillable forms or even blank forms can be printed directly in your own four walls. One integrated tax auditor there is also one that indicates obvious or supposed errors in real time. The electronic transmission takes place via the ELSTER interface.

There is also one at Taxman Document manager. He saves all documents that are digitally integrated into it and sorts them accordingly. This way you can quickly find receipts later.

Taxman in the test

The WirtschaftsWoche (03/2018) praises Taxman for the very much clear presentation, criticizes, however, that previous year's data cannot be imported from other programs. Focus Money Online (No. 8/2020) awards Taxman the 4th Place and particularly emphasizes the detailed tax guide in book form.

Taxman facts

  • The standard version costs 29.90 euros
  • Other variants: pensioners EUR 34.90, self-employed EUR 34.90, landlords EUR 39.90
  • Depending on the variant, additional attachments and assistance relevant to the occupational and income group are included
  • Previous year's data may only be transferred from Taxman
  • from Windows 8.1, no Mac support

5. Smart control

This “program” is actually not one: instead, the tax return takes place completely in the browser instead, without installing any software. The safety of this is confirmed by the TÜV certificate. SmartSteuer advertises that their customers do not need more than 60 minutes on average and that 87% give a school grade of 1 or 2. There is also a TrustedShops buyer protection.

Interested parties can select in advance which profession they hold. Workers corresponding forms are then displayed, Self-employed for example, those for sales tax and trade tax returns.

SmartSteuer in the test

WirtschaftsWoche (03/2018) rated the tax software in the browser as easy to understand. However, here too, the experts criticize the fact that it is not possible to import previous year's data from other programs.

Facts about SmartTax

  • Payment is only made upon submission and transmission to the tax office
  • Then 34.99 euros, which includes 5 taxes
  • The complete tax return takes place in the browser, there is no software to install
  • Data from the previous year can only be adopted by SmartSteuer itself

6. Income tax compact

Another one browser-based offerdoes not require any separate software to be downloaded. "Income tax compact" is the owner-managed Forium based in Berlin, not a major provider in the industry. The original purpose of the project was also to promote the online tax return in general and to offer taxpayers an alternative to a tax advisor.

Strong resemblance to ELSTER

What is noticeable about "Lohnsteuer Kompakt" is that the browser-based service is common to many Takes statements very back or doesn't offer it at all. Also, the service exhibits a strong Similarity to the ELSTER forms on, which is of little help, especially to laypeople. Ultimately, the "classic" ELSTER handling is somewhat optimized, but in terms of functions and assistance, "Lohnsteuer Kompakt" is not really comparable with the programs mentioned so far. While help is clearly in the foreground with these, “Lohnsteuer Kompakt” is more concerned with a simple improvement of the ELSTER forms. True to the name, the service is not really for freelancers, civil servants or self-employed / traders, but rather only for employees suitable.

Facts about income tax compact

  • Cost: 29.95 euros for 1 tax return
  • Discounts when filing multiple tax returns
  • Complete treatise in the browser, payment only upon submission
  • Refund warranty

7. Quick control

Another software from Lexware, which sees itself as the "simple" and little brother of "Taxman". "Quick tax" is offered in two options: The cheap one Standard option and one Deluxe option. The latter also enables self-employed persons and tradespeople to submit their tax returns; the first option is only aimed at employees. Both options use the ELSTER interface for simple, electronic data transmission.

Noticeable: The “All functions” subpage does not work on the website at the moment (May 2020), which is why they are only listed here to a limited extent. In general, QuickSteuer looks a bit outdated compared to the competition and is more in the "discounter" direction.

Facts about QuickTax

  • Costs: 14.99 euros for employees, 29.99 euros for self-employed and freelancers
  • Deluxe option also includes more than 1,000 legal tax tips from KONZ and an EÜR calculator
  • Including tax auditor, dynamic fill-in aids and a document manager
  • Data transfer from the previous version is possible

The ELSTER form

At the end of the possibilities on the computer, the "classic" should not be missing. ELSTER is the one in-house financial management software and got the electronic tax return rolling in the first place. The many different programs that have just been mentioned are not only based on ELSTER, but also use their interface for data transmission. The tax return ends up directly at the responsible tax office.

The software installs quickly, but only works in combination with Windows operating systems. ELSTER has strengths and weaknesses; there are many alternatives for a reason. The aim of the programs mentioned so far is above all to make the tax return easy to understand, which is not necessarily the case at ELSTER for laypeople. For example, if you do not know yourself where to enter a depreciation and in what amount, you will not find any help at ELSTER. There are no tips at all.

ELSTER is complete for this free of charge. There is no doubt that ELSTER is only worth using if it is appropriate background knowledge already exists. Everyone else will undoubtedly be overwhelmed sooner or later. All in all, ELSTER is one thing above all else: One alternative for everyone filing their tax return no longer traditionally in paper form want to do and deliver. However, the form is not a serious aid.

Test & comparison of tax apps for smartphones and tablets

If you don't want to work on your home computer and desk, you can use an app for the tablet or smartphone instead. First of all: The handling is beyond doubt more awkward, because the lack of keyboard and mouse controls alone makes things a bit clunky, as does the much smaller display. The apps are therefore not suitable for a comprehensive tax return with many attachments, for example required by freelancers, tradespeople and the self-employed. They try much more than convenient and quick alternative for employees and position their "simple" tax returns.

Many software solutions have app support

Only the solutions that are exclusively available for mobile systems are mentioned below. Many of the above-mentioned solutions for the PC also offer own apps at. The WiSO tax: savings book is available for iOS systems, for example, with the same scope as "WISO tax: app". These overlaps are only listed here in special cases, especially since some solutions already include alternative app access.

1. Taxfix

Taxfix comes from the hands of a Berlin start-up. The specialty: Not only can Taxfix be used on iOS and Android devices, the app also works with AI (artificial intelligence). Taxpayer expects one first Dialogue mode, then can relevant Receipts photographed and read in automatically - this is where artificial intelligence comes into play. The completed tax return is automatically transferred to the responsible tax office.

Taxfix in the test

In the test of the Business Insider magazine (12/2019) and the WirtschaftsWoche (03/2018), the automatic recognition of documents works AI not necessarily reliable. It is therefore advisable to check the tax return manually. WirtschaftsWoche rates Taxfix as "Expandable" .

Facts about Taxfix

  • Costs: 34.99 euros if the reimbursement is at least 50 euros, otherwise free of charge
  • Only suitable for "simple" tax returns from employees
  • Dialogue guidance and receipt photographs are intended to replace forms

2. SmartController xpress

The SmartSteuer xpress app uses the SmartSteuer software mentioned above as a basis. The app is compatible with both Android and iOS. Like comparable tax apps, the app only has rudimentary functions and is not suitable for the self-employed, civil servants or retirees. For Students, trainees and employees on the other hand, a simple, quick tax return should be made possible.

SmartSteuer xpress in the test

In tests, for example by Business Insider magazine (12/2019), it was noted negatively that all entries must be made again if incorrect information is provided.

Facts about SmartSteuer xpress

  • Costs: 24.99 euros, provided that it is sent to the tax office
  • Including tips and explanations
  • Reduced functionality compared to the SmartControl PC version

3. Tax prohibition

Another start-up that is suitable for Android and iOS devices is Steuerbot. At the same time, a tax return is submitted for the Web browser enables. Taxbot aims at Employees without complex tax returns from, the app is not suitable for self-employed persons who are liable for sales tax. The specialty: Steuerbot handles the tax return via a conversation or Chat window. The “tax bot” asks questions, which taxpayers then also answer in the chat. If you want to do your tax return like this, you have to Emojis - which are not used sparingly by the bot.

The tax ban is free of charge

Another special feature: Taxbot is only suitable for simple tax returns, but is without restrictions free of charge. The Haufe Group, the company behind the app, also sells fee-based solutions such as the “Taxman” program mentioned above, which it claims to counter-finance the free solutions.

Taxbot in the test

Business Insider magazine (12/2019) chose the free application as theirs Price-performance winner. The magazine Chip (12/2018) rates Steuerbot with "Well" .

4. ilovetax

Another slimmed-down solution, this time from those responsible for the WISO control software, is ilovetax. Within a playful interface, rudimentary, simple tax returns can be made from Employees and trainees as students do without additional income.

ilovetax only for simple cases

As soon as it too complex the ilovetax app refers to its "big brother" WISO: tax. Data will then be transferred automatically. The app costs 14.99 euros, provided the data is actually sent. For "WISO: tax", if the app is overwhelmed, the prices mentioned above apply. However, an additional step is necessary for ilovetax even in simple cases: The printed declaration must signed be sent.

5. Tax captain

The app is the mobile alternative to “Tax Savings Declaration” from “Academic Working Group”. Steuerkäpt’n is also only suitable for simplified tax returns. "Simplified" is then taken literally: not even all advertising expenses can be entered, income from renting or part-time jobs cannot be recorded at all. The app is actually only suitable for taxpayers whose tax return is completed in around ten minutes anyway. The app is complete for this free of charge.

Conclusion: tax returns made easy

Regardless of whether it is voluntary or mandatory: filing a tax return worth it for everyone - whether self-employed, employee, student or pensioner. In the meantime, an expensive tax advisor does not always have to be hired for this. Even those who are not familiar with taxes and tax returns can achieve their goals thanks to software and apps for smartphones. Sometimes incredibly intuitive, practically oriented or designed as a chat or interview query, simplify these applications the Preparation and sending of your own tax return.

With many of the tax apps for smartphones, you can first run through everything before you actually send something and pay. So you see in advancehow much in taxes you actually have refunded would get. With the software for the PC, however, you have to "in Advance payment" walk. And if you have enough background knowledge of taxes and tax returns, you can use the classic variant of the ELSTER forms use.