What falls under tuition fees

Deduct tuition fees: that's how it works

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There is now felt a thousand and one ways to study. Diploma, state examination, bachelor, master, doctorate, dual, part-time, integrating training, practical - the list could go on and on. From a tax point of view, on the other hand, only one question is interesting: Is the degree a First training or about the second training? A difference with sometimes considerable financial implications ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Deduct tuition fees: first or second training?

"The good news is: Costs related to your studies you can claim for tax purposes “, says tax advisor Andreas Reichert from felix.de. In principle, it does not matter at first whether you are studying for the first time, have previously completed an apprenticeship or are tackling a second degree.

The bad news: The devil is in the details - and how. “Because on closer inspection, a degree is not just a degree: the decisive factor is whether the degree is yours Initial or second training represents ”, explains Reichert. Only when this has been clarified will you know how and which height You can deduct your study costs and whether they even bring a tax refund.

In which cases there is an initial training or a second training:

The abundance of different study options does not make it easy to judge whether you have a first or a second training. Here some examples:

  • Studies directly after the Abitur: Initial training
  • Studies after completing vocational training: Second training
  • Dropping out without completing a degree and changing the subject: Initial training
  • Interruption of studies and resumption: Initial training
  • Dropping out of vocational training, taking up a job, part-time studies: Initial training
  • Completion of vocational training, taking up employment, part-time studies: Second training
  • Taking up employment immediately after graduation, part-time studies: Initial training
  • Doctorate after graduation: Second training
  • Master’s degree following a bachelor’s degree: Second training
  • Second degree after completing the first degree: Second training

A Specialty represents a course of study as part of a so-called Training employment relationship This is the case if ...

  • ... you during your studies are in an employment relationship and this is largely shaped by their studies is and
  • participation in study events related to your Obligations as an employee belongs.

An apprenticeship contract becomes tax-dependent like a second training even if it is your first training. Quite confusing, but legally regulated in Section 9, Paragraph 6, Clause 1 of the Income Tax Act!

An example of an apprenticeship contract is the dual course of study, i.e. a course of study with integrated vocational training.

This is the amount you can deduct your study costs

The course is your first apprenticeship:

  • The costs are one of the tax-privileged private expenses and are therefore deductible as special expenses (Section 10 (1) No. 7 EStG).
  • This deduction is limited to 6,000 euros per year.
  • Study costs only have an effect in the same year and only bring a tax advantage if you Pay taxes on your income at all.

The course is your second training because you have already completed vocational training, or you are completing the course as part of an apprenticeship contract:

  • The cost is yours professional expenses and are therefore considered business expenses deductible.
  • This deduction is unlimited in height possible.
  • Your tuition costs will affect either in the same calendar year or, under certain conditions, in other years tax-reducing through a loss carryforward or loss carryforward.

A example illustrates the tax and financial implications: Alexander starts studying immediately after graduating from high school. Ben has already completed vocational training when he starts studying. In 2016, both study costs will be 8,000 euros each.

  • Case 1: Both devote themselves full-time to their studies and do not work on the side.
  • Case 2: Alexander and Ben each earn 1,500 euros per month.
  • Case 3: Both earn 750 euros a month each.
  • Case 4: Both earn 600 euros a month each.

Ben has already completed vocational training, which is why the course is his second training for him. For Alexander the course is his initial training.

Alexander can pay his tuition costs of 8,000 euros only claim a limited amount of up to 6,000 euros as special expenses. In case 1, however, this amount does not lead to any tax advantage either. Because special expenses only have an effect in the same year - and in 2016 Alexander has no income and therefore pays no taxes from the outset. The law does not allow special expenses to be postponed to another year (Section 11 (2) EStG).

In Case 3 and Case 4, Alexander would have had these low earnings no taxes paid in the first place. The deduction of the study costs does not bring any (further) tax savings.

Only in case 2 was Alexander able to reduce his tax with the study costs. For comparison: Without this, he would have had to pay taxes of 1,766 euros.

Ben has no income in case 1. As the study costs but with him income-related expenses there is a tax loss. He can claim this tax deduction in later years when he earns money again. All Ben has to do is Submit a tax return for 2016, in which, on the one hand, he specifies his study costs and, on the other hand, requests the so-called loss carryforward.

The Loss carryforward causes Ben to not deduct his study costs in 2016, but to move them to another, later year. The tax reduction only arises when Ben earns money and he can offset the study costs with income.

This applies accordingly to Case 4: Not all expenses can be offset against income here. He can claim the amount of 800 euros as a tax-deductible loss for the next year, for example.

Case 3 is for Ben particularly unfavorable. Because with this salary he would not have paid any taxes in the first place. The deduction of study costs does not result in any tax savings. Even so, they are deducted from the income for the year. Only if - as in case 4 - there are still expenses left can Ben claim them in another year.

In case 2, Ben pays through the Deduction of study costs only 200 euros in taxes. Compared to Alexander, that's another tax saving of 183 euros - and that's only because Ben can count his expenses for studying as income-related expenses without a limit.

Taxable? This is how high the basic tax allowance is

Income tax is in principle only due when you use the so-called Basic tax allowance exceed. That remains Annual income below this limit, you will not pay any taxes - but you will not be able to save either. An important benchmark especially for students, as their part-time jobs usually bring little money into the cash register (but they can sometimes save taxes through the loss carryforward, see examples above).

The basic tax-free allowance has been continuously increased in recent years - and in the 2018 tax year it is already 9,000 euros. For Married it is - assuming common disposition - twice as high.

This is how high the basic allowance for single people is:

  • 2018: 9,000 euros
  • 2017: 8,820 euros
  • 2016: 8,652 euros
  • 2015: 8,472 euros
  • 2014: 8,354 euros
  • 2013: 8,130 euros
  • 2012: 8,004 euros
  • 2011: 8,004 euros
  • 2010: 8,004 euros

Deducting tuition fees: when is initial training completed?

“So from a tax point of view it is definitely worth striving forto complete initial vocational training before studying, ”says tax advisor Andreas Reichert. “This not only has the advantage that you then pay the study costs as a Unlimited advertising expenses can do. You can do the job you have learned too work part time and finance your studies. "

However, the legislature has now regulated in Section 9 (6) sentence 2 EStG under which conditions a completed vocational training is present:

  1. The duration of the training is at least twelve months with full-time training. Full-time means at least twenty hours a week (Schmidt / Loschelder EStG § 9 marginal number 283).
  2. It has to be a orderly training act, i.e. a training goal must be defined and a curriculum available (Schmidt / Loschelder EStG § 9 Rn 283).
  3. The training must ended with a final exam unless this is not provided for in the training plan.

This has been in effect since January 1, 2015.

Tip: Are you planning a break between high school and university? Or are you waiting for your place at university and still don't know how to bridge the gap? If you get the advice to integrate a short “training” during this time so that the course becomes a second training - forget that!

The Federal Fiscal Court decided that, for example, the Training as a paramedic can be an initial training - which you could wonderfully incorporate into a voluntary social year.

The positive result: The course would then be your second training (Federal Fiscal Court, judgment of October 27, 2011, file number VI R 52/10).

Sounds good, works because of that clear legal regulation but not since 2015! In the case of the paramedic, it fails because of the short training period of just fourteen weeks.

Deduct tuition fees: That's what the Federal Constitutional Court says

So you have now clarified whether your degree is a first or a second training, and you have found out how much you want your Deduct study costs can.

Tax advisor Andreas Reichert advises: “Make your expenses related to your studies always claimed as income-related expenses in your tax return - even if the course is your initial training. ”Because the legal regulation that the costs of an initial training are only deductible as special expenses is being put to the test Federal Constitutional Court.

The tax office will initially not recognize the costs of your initial training as income-related expenses. On this point, however, your tax assessment is based on a letter from the Federal Ministry of Finance provisionally. This means that the decision is still open on this point and can be changed in your favor if the Federal Constitutional Court considers the statutory regulation to be unconstitutional.

The proceedings are pending at the Federal Constitutional Court under file numbers 2 BvL 22/14, 2 BvL 23/14, 2 BvL 24/14, 2 BvL 25/14, 2 BvL 26/14 and 2 BvL 27/14.

Which study costs you can claim:

The deductible costs include, for example:

  • tuition fee
  • Travel expenses to the university
  • Rent a second home at the place of study
  • Exam fees
  • Expenses for books and other materials (Pens, exercise books, paper, laptop, printer and so on)
  • Office furniture like desk or office chair
  • Postage for letters to the university (e.g. for distance learning)
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses for study trips, excursions or internships
  • interest for BAföG

Exceptionally, here no difference made between first and second training.

Deduct tuition fees: These startups can help

There is hardly anyone who does his tax return with a smile on his face tackles. Especially not students who often stand in front of the mountain like an ox. That is also in the Startup scene a topic - one that is increasingly coming into focus.

Several start-up companies are already vying for students who, with their help save taxes should. There is the startup Wundertax, which already claims to offer its users 40 million euros should have brought in tax savings. Then Taxbutler, which hit the headlines because of the participation of CDU hope Jens Spahn. And Taxfix also offers help to students.

[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]