Extraordinary expenses: What counts + deduct

Extraordinary burdens are particularly high and unforeseen costs. If you indicate this in the tax return, you can save taxes. This is interesting for retirees and dependents, for example, in the case of high medical or care costs. Here you can find out what is covered by extraordinary expenses, which costs you can deduct from your taxes (for example, a lump sum in the case of a disability) and where the limit of the reasonable burden lies.

What are extraordinary strains?

Normally, private expenses and costs are not tax deductible. It can be different in case of so-called extraordinary expenses. These are also private costs, but they result in someone having significantly higher costs than usual. According to the Income Tax Act (EStG), extraordinary burdens can reduce income tax. The goal is to compensate when individual taxpayers incur significantly higher expenses than comparable other taxpayers.

In the case of "necessarily greater expenses", "the part of the expenses that exceeds the reasonable burden on the taxpayer is deducted from the total amount of income", according to paragraph 33 of the Income Tax Act (EStG). "Mandatory" means when the taxpayer cannot escape the cost for legal, factual, or moral reasons. So the expenses that count as extraordinary expenses must be necessary and unavoidable to you.

What counts as an extraordinary expense?

Although the law does not name any specific expenses. But there are typical expenses that count as extraordinary burdens. What you can usually deduct from tax:

Medical expenses

Most costs in the event of illness are covered by the relevant health insurance company. However, you will have to pay for some medical expenses yourself. This is how medical expenses can be counted as extraordinary expenses. Frequent examples are also costs for:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Treatment by a non-medical practitioner
  • Co-payments for prescribed medication

However, only medically necessary medical expenses can be deducted as extraordinary expenses. Preventive measures are not included. Paragraph 64 of the Income Tax Implementing Ordinance (EStDV) also regulates the expenses for which you must provide certain evidence and submit it to the tax office in order to be able to declare medical expenses as extraordinary expenses.

Spa costs

If a medical certificate from the Medical Service of the Health Insurance (MDK) is available, expenses for a cure that were not assumed and reimbursed can be claimed as extraordinary expenses. These include..

  • Travel costs to and from the spa
  • Spa costs
  • Accommodation costs
  • medical expenses
  • 80 percent of the additional expenses for meals

Care costs

In the case of a need for care, the care insurance takes over a part of the expenses – often, however, further costs must be taken over by oneself. Such care costs can be relevant for tax purposes as extraordinary burdens. These include, for example

  • Costs for an outpatient care service
  • Costs for inpatient accommodation in a nursing home

To be able to claim such care costs as extraordinary expenses, you must prove the need for care. For this you need a certificate from the nursing care insurance fund. Likewise, the need for care can be proven by the health characteristics "blind" or "helpless" with the corresponding marks "B" and "H" in the severely disabled person's certificate.

Nursing lump sum

Tax relief is also possible for caring relatives. Those who care for their parents or a neighbor, for example, can also declare the associated costs as extraordinary expenses in their tax return. There are two possibilities:

  • Use the actual costs including receipts.
  • Claiming the lump sum for nursing care in the amount of 924 euros.

In order to be able to use the care lump sum as an extraordinary burden, however, some conditions must be met. For example, it must be the care of a relative or a person close to you. The person to be cared for must be helpless or blind – with the corresponding mark on the ID – or have care level 4 or 5. In addition, the care must take place at home with the person in need of care and you may not receive a salary or other remuneration for it.

Funeral costs

A funeral can be expensive, so you may be able to deduct funeral expenses from your taxes as an extraordinary expense. If you have paid for the funeral of a relative, you can claim the associated expenses that exceed the value of the estate as an extraordinary burden. A possible death benefit insurance must also be deducted from the costs first. Extraordinary burdens for funeral expenses include, for example, the following..

These are directly related to the funeral. You cannot claim other expenses, such as entertainment for funeral guests.

Natural disasters

Even natural disasters such as the floods in the Ahr Valley count as extraordinary burdens. They cause some people to lose everything from one day to the next. But you can also claim these costs for tax purposes. However, only if you have not already been reimbursed by the insurance company. These include:

  • Expenses for furniture and household goods
  • Repair and disposal costs
  • Loan interest for disaster-related loans (for example, repair of flood damage)

Extraordinary expenses: Lump sum in case of disability

Furthermore, taxpayers with a disability can claim extraordinary expenses. As with the above-mentioned care lump sum, you have the choice: You can individually prove the actual costs with receipts or you can apply the disability lump sum.

If you want to use the lump sum, however, you cannot claim care costs as an extraordinary burden in your tax return. These are compensated with the lump sum for disabled persons. The amount of the disability lump sum depends on the determined degree of disability:

  • Disability degree 20: 384 Euro
  • Degree of disability 30: 620 euros
  • Disability degree 40: 860 Euro
  • handicap degree 50: 1.140 euros
  • Disability degree 60: 1.440 euros
  • Degree of disability 70: 1.780 euros
  • Disability degree 80: 2.120 euros
  • Disability degree 90: 2.460 euros
  • Degree of disability 100: 2.840 Euro

Extraordinary burdens: Pensioners not automatically favored

All these are costs that come to many people in old age. Therefore, pensioners who have to pay tax on part of their pension are often beneficiaries of the possibility to deduct extraordinary burdens from their taxes.

This does not mean, however, that pensioners are automatically and immediately better off in tax terms as a result of retirement. The right to extraordinary burdens in the tax applies to every taxpayer to the same extent.

Limit for extraordinary burdens

Extraordinary burdens cannot be deducted from the tax in unlimited amounts. There is a limit to what is considered a reasonable burden. This reasonableness is different for everyone: higher earners are expected to pay more in costs for extraordinary burdens than people with low incomes. Therefore, there is the tax term "reasonable burden".

But what is a reasonable burden? For an assessment that is as fair as possible, the total amount of income of a given taxpayer is taken into account. Reasonable burden is the part of the costs that the legislator assumes you can pay yourself. Only if the costs exceed this limit of the reasonable amount, you can claim the remaining amount as extraordinary burdens. Otherwise your tax burden remains unaffected.

Reasonable burden depends on children, marital status, income

However, the amount of the reasonable burden is determined on an individual basis. Decisive factors are income, marital status and the number of children. A fixed table is used to calculate the reasonable amount:

  • Single persons without children
    Here the reasonable burdens amount to five percent of the income with an annual income of up to 15.340 euros, six percent with an annual income of up to 51.130 euros and above seven percent.
  • Married persons without children
    The reasonable burden is four percent of income for an annual income of up to 15.340 Euro, five percent for an annual income of up to 51.130 euros and above six percent.
  • Taxpayers with one or two children
    Here, the reasonable burden is two percent of income for an annual income of up to 15.340 Euro, three percent for an annual income of up to 51.130 euros and above four percent.
  • Taxpayers with more than two children
    The reasonable expenses then amount to one percent of the income with an annual income of up to 51.130 Euro and above two percent.

Reasonable burden: Example calculation

The determination takes place step by step over the different levels. Using a short example, we explain how the reasonable amount and thus the amount of deductible extraordinary expenses is calculated:

The couple Mustermann has two children and earns together in the year 55.000 Euro. From the table it follows first: Up to an income of 15.340 euros is seen as a reasonable amount with two children 2 percent. That makes 306,80 Euro.

For income up to 51.130 Euro is calculated 3 percent. Since 15.340 Euro of the income, however, have already been taken into account, these must first be deducted. 51.130 euros minus 15.340 euros remain 35.790 euros. 3 percent of this amount results in 1.073.70 euros.

Lastly, for income above 51.130 Euro 4 percent credit. Of the 55.000 euros of total income, the 51 already taken into account must also be deducted here.130 euros are deducted, leaving 3.870 euros. 4 percent of which are 154.80 euros.

The reasonable amount of Mr. and Mrs. Mustermann is therefore a total of 1.535.30 euros – the sum of the three amounts calculated above. All costs for extraordinary burdens that exceed this reasonable amount can be deducted in the tax return. The following graphic illustrates the calculation example:

Tip: reach load limit + skip own contribution

The trick with extraordinary burdens is to reach the burden limit. Only then can you benefit from a tax perspective. If you have a lot of expenses, but are thus just before the load limit, you have to bear everything yourself. You can save the personal share if you bundle your expenses in one year. To do this, you must accumulate planable expenses in the same year.

When are extraordinary burdens worthwhile: Calculator

You can calculate for yourself whether it is worthwhile to declare extraordinary burdens in your tax return using the above table or example. In addition, Stiftung Warentest provides a calculator that you can use HERE.

Extraordinary expenses: Where to enter?

If it is clear that you will certainly incur extraordinary expenses, then the only question is where you can enter them in your tax return. This is comparatively simple, because the field provided for this purpose is located directly in the main form, the so-called "Mantelbogen".

In lines 61 to 70, the extraordinary burdens are queried individually. From expenses for care or due to disability to the lump-sum care allowance and the costs of illness and spa treatment to household-related services.