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German tax returns

German accountant unhelpful in producing income figures to help prepare UK tax return.

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My client is German national and UK resident.  German tax returns are prepared for the calendar year and these are, of course, needed to provide the information to go on the UK tax return(s).   The last return the German accountant produced was for 2018 : he is refusing to produce or submit the 2019 and 2020 returns because my client has lost an original certificate relating to German health insurance.  He says (according to my client) that there are no provisions in German tax law to deal with a missing certificate, and the insurance company are saying they cannot issue a duplicate.

I do not believe him.  I do not believe that the German tax system is that inflexible, and I do not know why he is being so obstructive : my client does not want me to contact him (I think she suspects that I would ask the necessary questions "robustly").  She would prefer to pay the German accountant's mounting fees (and presumably accruing late filing penalties) rather than seek a second opinion in the UK.

I would like some evidence (even anecdotal) to show that he is spinning her a line.  Has anyone any relevant experience or ideas?  Is there a German version of Accounting Web??

 

Replies (20)

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By sarahg
04th Sep 2021 06:51

If you have the source documents why can't you prepare the UK return?

You can amend at a later date once you know the German tax liability, if needed

What did you do about the earlier year returns if no info from the German accountant?

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Replying to sarahg:
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By ianmckechnie
04th Sep 2021 13:37

Thank you for your reply, but you did not answer the question.

My question was not about what to do about the UK tax return, it was whether the story coming out from the German accountant was credible in the context of German tax law.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
04th Sep 2021 06:59

Has your client thought about getting a new German accountant?

The current one seems to have given up on doing his job.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
04th Sep 2021 13:44

Maybe he's having a laugh ;)

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By ianmckechnie
04th Sep 2021 13:48

A German accountant having a laugh? Now THAT is improbable.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By ianmckechnie
04th Sep 2021 13:46

Your reply goes to the essence of the problem, but like that of our colleague above does not attempt to answer my question, which I thought was both clear and specific. It was certainly intended to be specific, and I apologise if it was not clear.

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Replying to ianmckechnie:
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By David Ex
04th Sep 2021 13:49

ianmckechnie wrote:

Your reply goes to the essence of the problem, but like that of our colleague above does not attempt to answer my question, which I thought was both clear and specific.

I know. The service here is shocking.

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Replying to David Ex:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
04th Sep 2021 14:00

That's because of Saturday staff.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By ianmckechnie
04th Sep 2021 16:56

Sometimes I read the replies on AccountingWeb and I am reminded of Basil Fawlty's suggestion that Sybil's specialist subject on Mastermind would be "Stating the Bleeding Obvious."

I am mildly offended to have asked a very specific question, and to have got replies which start from the assumption that I do not know how to prepare a tax return, or that I have not suggested that my client should find a competent accountant in Germany. (Though I do appreciate that people are only trying to be helpful.)

Perhaps the weekday staff will read the actual question and be able to answer it !!

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Replying to ianmckechnie:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
04th Sep 2021 17:40

ianmckechnie wrote:

He [The German Accountant] is refusing to produce or submit the 2019 and 2020 returns because my client has lost an original certificate relating to German health insurance.  He says (according to my client) that there are no provisions in German tax law to deal with a missing certificate, and the insurance company are saying they cannot issue a duplicate.

Well (and at the risk of stating the bleeping obvious) how about persuading your client to serve the Germanic equivalent of a Subject Access Request on the Insurance Company? Come to that, why not serve one on the German Accountant while you're at it. Germans, especially if Prussian, usually appreciate such thoroughness.

ianmckechnie wrote:

I do not believe him.  I do not believe that the German tax system is that inflexible, and I do not know why he is being so obstructive.

You didn't mention the war, did you?

ianmckechnie wrote:

I would like some evidence (even anecdotal) to show that he is spinning her a line.  Has anyone any relevant experience or ideas?  Is there a German version of Accounting Web??

My good friend Uwe sends his good wishes from Munchen, and believes the accountant is making a weak excuse. His advice is to ask the insurance company politely. My advice is do that on a weekday ;)

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By ianmckechnie
04th Sep 2021 18:05

My grateful thanks to you and to Uwe : that is the sort of view that I was looking for to present to my client. (He is very fortunate to live in such a wonderful city - I cannot wait to go back there.)

By way of back story, my suspicions of the German accountant go back several years to when he (allegedly) told my client that it was none of HMRC's business what income there was in Germany, as it was only taxable there and did not have to be disclosed to the UK tax authorities. I have pointed out - at length - that I am not qualified to pronounce on German tax, and he is not competent to pronounce on UK tax law.

Probably the nicest thing I have described our German colleague as is an ultracrepidarian - many of the epithets I have applied to him have been monosyllabic, and rarely more than four letters!

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Replying to ianmckechnie:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
04th Sep 2021 19:28

Well he deserves a S.A.R. for all his ultracrepidarianism!

I wonder just what he's sat on, and why he's stonewalling you and your client? Bet you a pickled sausage he'll carry on making excuses even when you obtain the missing certificate for him!

Good hunting!

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By Duggimon
06th Sep 2021 09:47

Well there are two possibilities. One is that the German accountant is wrong, the other is that nobody who loses their one single insurance certificate can ever file a German tax return again regardless of their needs and desires.

However, I will be surprised if even any of my learned colleagues on here will be able to provide the precise key to unlocking this unnecessarily obstructive accountant with an actual legal citation.

At this point, your client is starting to seem like as much of a barrier as the accountant, being unwilling as they are to seek a second opinion or indeed do anything at all in order to progress matters. I suppose if they're comfortable with endlessly mounting fees and penalties you could suggest increasing your own fees as well and engaging a reputable German accountant to consult with and thereby resolve the whole matter yourself.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
06th Sep 2021 09:53

It probably doesn't answer your question but the solution is for the client to either get a new German accountant or a new UK accountant.

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Replying to ianmckechnie:
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By DJKL
06th Sep 2021 11:07

Maybe the route to go is to find another German accountant who can advise if the in place one is telling porkies. I know my son found one when he was contracting in Frankfurt so it cannot be that difficult to locate one.

The key here seems to be to get your client to sort the problem, it is their problem, so I would put the ball back into their court.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By ianmckechnie
06th Sep 2021 14:51

Yours (and Uwe's) was one of the more positive suggestions in this whole exchange. Thank you - it is appreciated.

I think that it is clear that the client should do the asking - in the UK insurance companies are not helpful in providing information to third parties, and I shudder to think what hoops would have to be jumped through to authorise a German insurance company to divulge information or provide copy documents to someone other than the policyholder!

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By Hugo Fair
06th Sep 2021 14:29

OP: "my client does not want me to contact (the German accountant) (I think she suspects that I would ask the necessary questions "robustly")"
... or maybe she's merely observed your delicate approach to the art of communication!

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RLI
By lionofludesch
06th Sep 2021 17:25

It's interesting how folk join a forum, ask two questions in thirteen years, comment on no threads other than their own (apart from a random snide comment) and then have the cheek to complain about the quality of answers they get.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th Sep 2021 09:57

That reminds me of the story of the chap who became a Cistercian monk, and, having taken his vow of silence, was allowed to speak just once every five years.

So five years later the Abbot pops in to the monk's cell to ask how he has enjoyed his first five years. "Fine," replies the monk, "except my mattress is a bit lumpy and I've not had a good night's sleep in five years." So the Abbot orders him a new mattress.

Another five years on the Abbot stops by to ask again after his wellbeing. "All's well," replies the monk, "except my hot water packed in, but I've had to wait almost five years to tell someone." So the Abbot calls out a plumber.

A further five years on, and the Abbot stops by to inquire yet again. "I'm afraid my window broke," says the monk, "and I've been freezing my nuts off these past four years." So the Abbot promises him a glazier.

"I'm not really enjoying this," says the monk, "on reflection I don't think I'm cut out to be a monk, and want to leave." "Thank f**k for that," says the Abbot, "you've done nothing but complain ever since you got here!"

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
10th Sep 2021 09:37

OK, back to your rooms - all of you. Nobody has come out well out of these exchanges, so we have had to close the comments and all of you taking part please think twice before engaging in playground style spats.

This is a professional forum that is intended to provide a platform for the friendly exchange of ideas and information about accountancy.

Please moderate your behaviour and if we see any repeats in the next few days we will escalate our response against members who break our community rules.

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