Expenses in connection with the conduct of a private legal dispute cannot regularly be claimed for tax purposes under extraordinary expenses. However, this expressly excludes legal costs incurred if the taxpayer is in danger of losing his livelihood and is no longer able to satisfy his vital needs within the usual framework (cf. Sec. 33 (2) Sentence 4 EStG).
Contrary to previous case law, the Munich Fiscal Court ruled that the basis of existence is no longer to be understood only in material terms, but also in immaterial terms (e.g. in the case of loss of psychological or idealistic needs).
In the judgment case
the parents of a daughter argued about the father’s right of access. In the court’s view, parental care not only concerned the care of property, but also the care of the child’s person; in this respect, there was an obligation to conduct the access dispute in order to protect the child’s best interests. According to the court, a core area of human life, namely the endangerment of the child’s well-being, was affected. Therefore, the corresponding legal costs could be taken into account within the framework of extraordinary burdens – with offsetting of a reasonable burden.
It should be noted that an appeal has been lodged against the ruling; the decision of the Federal Fiscal Court in this regard remains to be seen.
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