Law made simple
Some 6 million pensioners currently have to pay tax. Most of their tax affairs are not particularly complicated. To make it easier for them to file their tax returns, a simplified form for reporting retirement income is currently being tested by several German Länder (federal states). Wirksam regieren is helping to pilot and further develop the simplified tax return form. Over 1500 taxpayers and more than 100 tax office employees will be involved in the project.
Simplified tax returns for pensioners
Some 6 million pensioners currently have to pay tax. Most of their tax affairs are not particularly complicated, and so many of the boxes on the standard income tax forms are superfluous to their needs. With support from the Federal Ministry of Finance, and building on the findings of the wirksam regieren income tax form laboratory, Brandenburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony are currently testing a simplified tax return form for retirement income. People using the simplified form do not have to enter information that the tax authorities can access electronically (e.g. pension details), and only the most common kinds of deductible expenses are listed on the form. Pensioners in the pilot Länder can choose whether to fill in the standard form or the simplified form this year.
Pensioners testing the tax return form are helping to simplify it further
Wirksam regieren is conducting empirical research to test the impact of the simplified tax return form in the participating Länder. Over 1500 taxpayers and more than 100 tax office employees will be asked for their feedback on using the simplified form and on their level of satisfaction with it, and one-on-one interviews will be held. The results will help identify possible further simplifications. The key issues are how well the forms work in practice, whether users really think they simplify things, whether they have changed the demand for advice from the tax offices and what extra improvements could be made.
on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF)