Expenses for travel between the home and the first place of work are regularly compensated by the commuting allowance, irrespective of the means of transport used (cf. Section 9 (1) No. 4 EStG). The flat rate has so far amounted to EUR 0.30 for each full kilometer of distance between home and the first place of employment and can be claimed as income-related expenses or operating expenses. In view of the rising mobility costs resulting from the planned CO2 tax, “long-distance commuters” will receive tax relief through a change in the commuting allowance. Up to a distance of 20 kilometers, the distance allowance will remain unchanged; however, from 2021, the allowance will be increased to EUR 0.35 for all distance kilometers exceeding 20, and to EUR 0.38 from 2024. From 2027, the distance allowance will again be a uniform 0.30 euros. The same applies to family trips home in the case of double household management. Long-distance commuters should therefore consider whether the additional income-related expenses should already be taken into account within the framework of an income tax allowance (see No. 6 in this Information Letter).
If the increased commuting allowance from the 21st kilometer onwards does not have a tax effect or does not have a full effect because there is insufficient taxable income, low-income earners can apply for a mobility bonus. This amounts to 14% of the commuting allowance from the 21st kilometer (insofar as this, together with other income-related expenses, exceeds the employee allowance of 1,000 euros), up to a maximum of the amount by which the taxable income is below the basic allowance of (presumably) 9,744 euros. The application for a mobility premium can be submitted after the end of 2021; if necessary, the result of the 2021 tax assessment should be awaited to see whether there is any eligibility at all.