Topic of the month march 2023 – off on your travels

Since last year we are allowed to move around unrestrictedly again, also within the scope of professional activity. In this month's Topic of the Month, we take you on the journey of deductibility of travel-related expenses or employer reimbursability.

In the context of professional mobility, trips are mainly between home and the first place of work. In turn, an external activity exists if the work is performed away from the home and not at the first place of work.

Place of activity

Place of employment is initially a fixed business facility separate from the home. An apartment or. a home office can thus never be the first place of work. Vehicles, airplanes, ships or areas of activity without fixed operational facilities are also not places of activity.

The employee may have a maximum of one first place of work per employment relationship. It is also conceivable that the employee may not have a primary place of employment, but rather may only have out-of-town places of employment.

If there is no service or labor law definition of a place of work or if it is not clear, the first place of work is the company facility at which the employee is to work permanently every working day or two full working days per working week or at least one third of his agreed regular working time.

If the employee has more than one place of work, the place of work that the employer designates in the employment contract is the first place of work. If, on the other hand, this provision is missing or ambiguous, the place of work closest to the home is the first place of work.

If the employee works at a fixed place of business of the employer, an affiliated company or a third party designated by the employer, it must be determined whether and, if so, where the employee has a first place of work. This is done in a two-step review either by the employer or by using the quantitative allocation criteria mentioned above.

Travel expenses

A tax-free reimbursement of the travel expenses incurred by the employee is possible if there is a job-related external activity, i.e. for trips between several external places of work, the employee's home and the place of the external activity, the first place of work and the external place of work, the external accommodation and the external place of work and the employee's home or the first place of work and the accommodation at the place of the external activity, if the employee spends the night out of town.

If an individual mileage rate is to be used, the total cost of the vehicle must be determined, and professional trips and annual mileage must be recorded.

For simplification reasons, flat rates may be applied instead of an individual mileage rate.

In 2023, the flat rates will be 0.30 euros/km for passenger cars and 0.20 euros/km for motorcycles, scooters and mopeds (the increased flat rates for home-work journeys will not apply).

Additional meal expenses

The additional expenses for meals on the occasion of an away-from-home activity cannot be claimed at the actual costs. For tax purposes, additional meal expenses may be reimbursed tax-free only to the extent of the per diem meal allowance when working away from home.

The following per diem rates apply for time away from the first duty station or. Home

One-day trip: 8 hours and less: 0,00 Euro; One-day trip: more than 8 hours: 14,00 Euro

Multi-day trip: Day of arrival without minimum absence: 14.00 euros and day of departure without minimum absence: 14.00 euros; 24 hours: 28.00 euros

For professional drivers, an additional 8.00 euros may be deducted for days on which additional meal expenses are claimed.

In the case of a longer-term work-related away-from-home activity at the same place of work, a tax-free employer substitute or. Work expense deduction of meals allowance only in the first three months from the start of the job.

If the professional activity is interrupted at the same place of work, this leads to a restart of the three-month period if the interruption lasts at least four weeks. The reason for the interruption is irrelevant.

TIP: Employers are allowed to reimburse their employees for the doubled lump sum if they pay a flat rate of 25% tax on this amount (SV-free).

Provision of meals by employer for out-of-town activities

If the employer provides the employee, during an away-from-home activity a meal free of charge or at a reduced price, the value according to the official Sachbezugsverordnung (value 2023: 2.00 euros per breakfast, 3.80 euros per lunch resp. Dinner) to be included as wages if the value of the meal does not exceed 60 euros (gross).

However, the approach as wages (with the official non-cash remuneration value) is omitted altogether if the employee could claim meal allowances as income-related expenses. In this case, the per diems for meals are to be reduced as follows: for breakfast by 20%, for lunch and dinner by 40% each, of the per diem applicable for a 24-hour absence. For out-of-town activities in Germany, this corresponds to a reduction of the respective additional meal allowance.

Accommodation costs

Accommodation costs in the case of a job-related external activity are deductible as income-related expenses only at the actual costs.

The lump sum of 20.00 euros for each overnight stay is applicable only in cases of employer reimbursement.

For reasons of simplification, the tax authorities allow the employer to reimburse a lump sum of 20.00 euros tax-free for each overnight stay in Germany without individual proof.

Conversely, the actual costs for overnight stays can only be reimbursed tax-free if the incurred overnight costs are proven by an invoice.

If the employee works in Germany for a longer period of time at the same place of work, which is not the first place of work, as part of a job-related external activity, the tax-free reimbursement option is limited in time. Thereafter, after the expiration of 48 months, accommodation costs may only be deducted up to the amount of 1.000.00 euros per month are reimbursed tax-free by the employer. The same applies to hotel accommodation.

Double housekeeping

Double housekeeping exists if the employee maintains his own household (= center of life) outside the location of his first place of work and also lives at the location of the first place of work. A double household can only be taken into account for tax purposes if it is caused by the employee's job.

This is always the case if the employee moves into a second home or accommodation at the new place of employment on the occasion of an unlimited transfer, on the occasion of a change of employer, on the occasion of the first establishment of an employment relationship.

Also, the occupation of a secondary residence or. -accommodation at the place of the first place of work is necessary for professional reasons.

Finally, the employee must maintain his own household outside the place of his first place of work and also live at the place of the first place of work. The existence of an own household presupposes the occupation of a dwelling as well as a financial participation in the costs of living.

In the case of double household management, the employer may deduct the costs of a second home or accommodation at the location of the 1. The employee's first place of work up to the maximum amount of 1.000 euros per month reimbursed tax-free by the employer.

The following items can be considered as necessary additional expenses in addition to the accommodation costs due to double housekeeping: travel expenses on the occasion of a change of residence at the beginning or end of double housekeeping as well as for weekly trips home to the place of one's own household or expenses for weekly long-distance family calls, additional expenses for meals, and relocation costs.


And if the trip ends in the study..

The expenses for a room at home are tax-free from 01.01.In 2023, deductible only if the center of the entire and professional activity is located there and also if another workplace is available for the business or professional activity in addition to the home office.

Instead of deducting the actual expenses for the home office, from 2023 a lump-sum deduction of 1.260.00 Euro p.a. possible. This annual lump sum is a personal amount that is to be reduced by one-twelfth for each full month in which the study does not form the center of the entire business and professional activity.

If the requirements for the deduction of expenses for a home office are not met for the entire year and the annual lump sum is therefore reduced, the following can be deducted, if applicable. for this reduction period the new daily allowance of 6,00 Euro can be granted.

In all other cases, from 01.01.2023 for the entire business and professional activity a daily allowance of 6.00 euros, maximum 1.260.00 euros can be deducted in the calendar year.

In principle, the first place of work may not be visited when using the home office lump sum. If, however, no other workplace is permanently available for this purpose, a deduction of the per diem allowance is permissible even if the activity is also performed away from home or at the first place of work on the same calendar day.

However, the deduction of the per diem allowance is not permissible if accommodation costs for the home office apartment can be deducted within the scope of double housekeeping.

Expenses for work equipment are still not covered by the home office flat rate.

The per diem deduction of 6.00 is based on the individual. Therefore, if multiple occupants use a shared home to generate income, each person can deduct the per diem amount.

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