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Maintenance expenses – pro rata reduction – “occasional” payments

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Maintenance services

to legally dependent persons (e.g. children over the age of 25 or parents) can generally be taken into account for tax purposes as an extraordinary burden up to an amount of 9,000 euros (expected to be 9,168 euros from 2019) per calendar year. The needy person’s own income and emoluments reduce the maximum amount insofar as these exceed 624 euros (cf. Section 33a (1) EStG).

It should be noted that corresponding maintenance expenses can only be claimed to the extent that the benefits are intended and suitable to serve the current living needs of the maintenance recipient in the respective calendar year of the maintenance payment. In the case of one-off or occasional payments that are not made throughout the year, the maximum amount of maintenance is reduced proportionately (see Section 33a (3) of the Income Tax Act). As the Federal Fiscal Court has confirmed in a recent decision, this rule can lead to disadvantages if alimony payments are not made until the course of a calendar year.


According to the court

maintenance expenses are only eligible if they serve the “current” needs of the dependent. Thus, a relation of the payment back to a period prior to the month of payment is excluded; current needs cannot be satisfied by a payment that is only in the future. Similarly, it is not possible to take into account alimony payments made in the current year insofar as they are made – as an “advance payment” – in view of the recipient’s future needs after the end of the calendar year.

In the example case
(see our Infobrief 10/18, available as a download free of charge here)
therefore only 976 euros of the 3,000 euros paid can be taken into account in 2018.
And also in the following year 2019, maintenance expenses would only be recognized from the month of April, i.e. only for 9 months, in the total amount of 3,056 euros.

In the case of non-regular (individual) payments, it may be necessary in practice to ensure that these are made as early as possible in January so that – as in the example – maintenance expenses are not lost for tax purposes.


(Further comments & information & examples on this can be found in our information letter 10/2018 under the item 8.)

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