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Work-related activities away from home – No lump-sum allowances instead of ticket costs

When employees go on business trips the rule is that the travel costs that they paid for themselves can be deducted as work-related costs in their tax returns insofar as these costs have not been reimbursed free of tax by their employers. Such expenses cover, among other things, using a means of transport (e.g., ticket costs). Alternatively, it is also possible to claim

flat rates per kilometre that, under the Federal Travel Expenses Act, have been determined as the highest distance allowance.

The Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof, BFH), in its ruling of 11.2.2021 (case reference: VI R 50/18), decided that employees may not claim flat rates per kilometre – €0.30 per km may be deducted for the use of a car and €0.20 per km for the use of other motor vehicles such as, e.g., a moped or a motorcycle – if for their work-related activities away from home they use means of transport that operate regularly, such as, railways, aircraft, ferries, buses, underground trains, suburban trains or trams. The claimant had wanted his trips to be taken into consideration at a rate of €0.20 per km travelled instead of at the actual lower cost of tickets for the public transport used for which his employer had reimbursed him – the resulting surplus for his claim was €2,895. However, the BFH refused to allow his work-related cost deduction and clarified that, in such cases, it is only the actual ticket costs that were incurred that may be deducted in tax returns.

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