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Appeals statistics – Two thirds of appeals are successful

Every year, the Federal Ministry of Finance publishes statistics, based on the reporting by the federal states, about the processing of appeals in the local tax offices. According to the latest publication, in 2019, taxpayers lodged about 3.5m appeals with their local tax offices. If the appeals that are still outstanding from previous years are added to this figure, then the local tax offices had even more than 5.8m appeals to process. As the statistics show, in most case, an appeal is crowned with success.

Almost two thirds of all appeals (65.6%) registered a success and, therefore, an amendment to the benefit of the taxpayer. Just 14% of appeals were indeed unsuccessful or, at least, partly unsuccessful - in the appeals procedure, these cases were wholly or partly dismissed through a (partial) appeal decision. Around another 20% of the appeals that were lodged were already withdrawn prior to a final decision by the lead decision-maker.

In view of the high success rates of appeals, it may be worthwhile proceeding with an appeal against a tax assessment notice. However, the success rate that appears in the statistics has been distorted because it also includes those ‘appeal successes’ that arise from appeals for the purpose of correcting the taxpayer’s own mistakes and where, e.g., the taxpayer subsequently declares forgotten deductible costs. In order to avoid having to make such a subsequent declaration, it is recommended that tax assessment notices should always 
be checked for accuracy right away because taxpayers have to submit appeals within one month after receipt of the assessment notice. The appeal can be made by writing to the respective competent tax office, electronically via the Elster online portal, or even by sending an e-mail to the respective local tax office. Moreover, taxpayers also have the option to be joined as a party to comparable proceedings pending before the Federal Fiscal Court or the ECJ. In this case, taxpayers will have to lodge an appeal, indicate the case reference of the proceedings that are pending and request a suspension of the appeal until the court decision.

The time period for lodging appeals starts with the issue of the tax assessment notice. If the assessment notice is delivered by post - as is usual - then the letter is deemed to have been issued on the third day after the date printed on the assessment notice so that the time period starts from the fourth day. If the date of issue falls on a public holiday or a weekend, or if the appeal period ends on a public holiday or weekend then the issue day will be pushed back to the next working day. 

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