The Value Added Tax (Vat) in Germany is 19% and included in the marked prices of all merchandise or on the menu items in a restaurant. So you can deduct almost 20% when using a VAT form. Since the VAT form cost a fee, I always figured it was most useful to use on anything costing more than 100 Euro - to me that made the fee and trip to the VAT Office worthwhile. We always kept a VAT form stored in the glove department of our car, so we could have one available when we needed it. It´s important to note that there is a different form needed for items over 2,500 Euro.
A lot of stores let you collect the receipts and do a VAT Form run every three months, Lidl, the grocery store is a good example. Just be careful to designate a VAT Form for each of these stores, because the issue date of the VAT form has to be before the date of the first receipt from that store. I always used a page protector to help me keep each VAT form and the collection of receipts for each store and put a note on my calendar when to turn it in - time flies away!
You can also only have a certain amount of outstanding VAT Forms - the VAT Office is very strict, but also very helpful. So make sure you keep track of all used VAT forms and turn them in on time. If you lose a VAT form, let the VAT office know right away so they can help you get it sorted. But with very little effort real money can be saved especially if you are thinking about purchasing larger items such as cars, furniture, electronics, etc.
As not all German employees know how to use the VAT form it helps if you learn how to fill it out, be sure to pay attention to which copy you keep, which copy the store keeps and which copy you are meant to turn in to the VAT office. Store owners are more likely to accept the form if you know how it works.
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