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Are travel costs that are reimbursed to grandparents for childcare tax deductible?

Travel costs can be tax deductible under certain circumstances. To this end, the Nuremberg tax court recently examined whether or not the travel costs of grandparents who take care of their grandchildren so that their parents can go about their work can be deducted and by whom.

The claimants in this case were parents who, in their tax return, had claimed relief on childcare costs in the amount of € 3,485. Thereof, € 3,149 had gone on travel cost reimbursement for journeys made by the grandparents to the claimants’ place of residence in order to look after the children there. For this, together with the tax return, the claimants submitted a summary of the journeys that however included neither a date nor a signature. Moreover, it was not clear who had prepared this summary. There was likewise no invoice. The statements of the amounts transferred to the grandparents contained no reference. In addition, in January 2015, the father of one of the claimants refunded the amount that had been transferred to his bank account. The tax office did not allow the costs to be deducted.

The case before the Nuremberg tax court was not successful. According to the ruling from 20.2.2020 (case reference: 13 K 1151/17), the travel costs were justifiably not taken into account as childcare costs. This was because, in addition to the formal requirements that had not been met, the financial burden was lacking to some extent. Travel reimbursement can indeed generally be taken into account. However, there has to be an invoice for this.

Please note: In the case in question, there was however no written document signed by the parents of one of the claimants from which it could be inferred that the claimants did actually owe their parents for travel costs. Likewise, the claimants’ financial burden was lacking, at least to a certain extent, in view of the bank transfer refund.

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