Jahresabschluss Checklist: How to manage your end-of-year accounting

How to prepare your Jahresabschluss (annual accounts) – a simple explanation. The Jahresabschluss gives a company an overview of the previous year’s financial result and, above all, reports this to the tax authorities. Anyone who doesn’t know how or simply does not want to deal with it can pass it on to a tax consultant. But, doing a small amount of preparation can save you cash.


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Jahresabschluss & Steuern (annual accounts & taxes)

When doing taxes, simply determining profit is not enough. Self-employed persons and companies are liable for several types of taxes:

  • Income tax (Einkommensteuer) for individual companies and partnerships;
  • Corporate tax (Körperschaftsteuer)for legal persons;
  • Solidarity surcharge (Solidaritätszuschlag) for everyone;
  • Church tax (Kirchensteuer) depending on religious affiliation;
  • VAT (Umsatzsteuer) (also applies in principle for small entrepreneurs with exclusively VAT-free sales);
  • Trade tax (Gewerbesteuer) for all businesses that have had to register a trade;
  • As well as the payroll tax (Lohnsteuer) for employees (as a special form of the collection of income tax).


Most entrepreneurs who are just starting out are so unaware that this often results in your documentation being incomplete. Apart from the fact that this predominantly leads to an excessive tax burden, because certain operating expenses, income-related expenses and other deductible amounts are not fully utilised, and as a self-employed person and entrepreneur, the rule goes: No receipt, no entry.

As an employee, however, you can use a number of standard deductions and need no proof for it.

That’s why we’re giving all entrepreneurs a few tips on how to prepare their annual accounts with as little effort as possible, regardless of whether they then do it themselves or leave it to tax consultants.

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 Create a schedule for your Jahresabschluss

First, determine when your annual accounts and tax returns should be ready. From this date, you can count back and set the date on which you begin your preparation.

When scheduling, you need to consider vacation time and seasonal work breaks. Be sure to add a little buffer time. You can’t freely set the deadline for the tax office (Finanzamt) – the law does.

The deadlines for submission of the Jahresabschluss can be found in § 149 paragraph 2 of the German Tax Code (Abgabenordnung – AO).

Anyone who has a tax adviser or does not finish by the specified date may also apply for a time extension.

Tip: If you’re expecting a tax back payment (Steuernachzahlung), the late payment of the tax declaration (Steuererklärung) will result in a time and liquidity gain. However, if you expect a tax refund, then you should submit the tax declaration as early as possible so that you receive the money quickly.


Use our Jahresabschluss checklist as a guide

Use the checklist to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything that will help you save taxes.

The checklist is pretty self-explanatory: If some things are not finished yet or the decision has yet to be made, tick the ‘still open’ box. When everything’s finished, check the ‘done’ box.

Note: Getting familiar with how to manage accounting is an essential part of opening a business in Germany. That’s why we’ve listed on our company formation checklist.

Download Checkliste Jahresabschluss [PDF] (Deutsch)
Download Jahresabschluss Checklist [PDF] (English)

The Master list of all Accounting articles can be found here.

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