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Travel expenses: treatment of travel expenses for certain occupational groups.

For journeys (routes) between home and the “first place of work”, a distance allowance of EUR 0.30 per distance kilometer can be deducted as income-related expenses; the distance allowance applies regardless of the means of transport chosen. For journeys to other (external) places of work, the actual travel costs incurred can be deducted as travel expenses; if a car is used, a flat rate of EUR 0.30 per kilometer driven can be considered as an alternative. The first place of work is therefore of particular importance for the deduction of income-related expenses.

The first place of employment is the fixed place of business to which the employee is permanently assigned. The assignment results from the employer’s instructions under labor law; it is permanent if the employee

  • indefinite or
  • for the duration of the employment relationship or
  • longer than 48 months

should be active there.

The Federal Fiscal Court has defined criteria for a first place of work for various occupational groups and thus confirmed the view of the tax authorities. According to this, the office of a police officer on duty and patrol is his first place of work, because he has to put on his uniform there, take care of any paperwork and take part in entry into service meetings, among other things.

In the case of one pilot, the airport designated by the airline as her home base was considered her first place of employment because she was required to attend a 60- to 100-minute briefing there before flights, check and analyze weather reports, and perform other work. Travel to other airports can be taken into account as income-related expenses from the point of view of travel expenses.

In the case of an aviation security screener, the first (long-range) place of work is the entire airport site, i.e., the distance allowance applies to travel from the home to the nearest access point to the long-range area of activity; travel within the site and additional kilometers to more distant access points can be taken into account in accordance with travel expense regulations.

General port workers in the Port of Hamburg have both a permanent employment relationship with the general port operating company and a further fixed-term employment relationship with the respective individual port company, which is to be regarded as their employer under payroll tax law. In this case, each individual employment relationship – which may only last for one day – must be considered separately, with the result that the respective place of employment at the individual company is regularly to be regarded as the first place of employment and only the distance allowance can be applied for the journeys from the home to there and back.

In the case of a temporary employment relationship, a permanent assignment to a first place of work exists if it is to apply for the entire duration of the employment relationship. If the employee is transferred to another place of work before the end of the fixed term, no “new” first place of work is created, but rather an external activity exists, so that journeys from the home to there and back are to be treated according to travel cost principles. If the planned period of employment at the new place of work should last more than 48 months, a new first place of work would exist there from the beginning, so that the commuting allowance would apply for the journeys between home and this place of work.