German ESL Returns
Due date and frequency of German ESL returns
ESL returns are filed on a quarterly basis unless the total intra-Community supplies of goods of the current quarter or any of the previous four quarters exceeds €50,000. The IC-acquisitions of goods or services and the IC-supplies of services are not taken into account for the calculation of the ESL threshold.
Because of the rather low threshold, companies moving goods to other Member States will often file ESL returns monthly. ESL returns for services are always filed quarterly. In case a company is making both, IC-supplies of goods and services, and the goods threshold is exceeded, the amounts for services should be reported in the last month of the calendar quarter for the last three months. It is also possible to request a switch into monthly filing for services.
Where a taxpayer is not required to file monthly or quarterly VAT returns and the German taxable turnover does not exceed €200,000, annual ESL returns may be filed upon request to the tax authorities provided the total intra-Community supplies does not exceed €15,000 and do not supply new means of transport to VAT registered customers. Annual ESL return are due by the 10th day of the month following the calendar year reported.
If the €50,000 threshold on IC-supplies of goods is exceeded in the current quarter, monthly filing is required as from the first month of the following calendar quarter.
German ESL returns are due by the 25th day of month following the reporting period. There is no due date extension for German ESL returns, this is, the "Dauerfristverlangerung" does not apply to ESL filings. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the date is shifted to the next working day.
It is important that the information reported on the VAT return and the ESL return matches. Otherwise, the tax authorities may initiate a verification procedure and request further examination and clarifications from the taxpayer.
Finally, Entities that are part of a VAT group must file their own ESL return, for which they must have their own German VAT number.
Frequency of filing rules
MonthlyThe total amount of ICS of goods exceeds €50,000 in the current or any of the previous four quarters
QuarterlyStandard reporting period and only period available for IC-supplies of services (exceptions apply).
AnnuallyBusinesses allowed to file annual VAT returns only and not having more than €200,000 of taxable turnover neither more than €15,000 of IC-transactions and do not supply new means of transport to VAT registered customers.
Due date rules
Monthly25th day of the month following the reporting period
Quarterly25th day of the month following the reporting period
Annually10th day of the month following the reporting period
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German nil ESL returns and Corrective ESL returns
In case there are no transactions to be reported in a given period, a nil ESL return is NOT required in Germany.
Where incorrect data has been reported in the ESL return, or where details have been missed in a return already submitted, a corrective ESL return must be filed. The corrective ESL return in Germany is a supplementary declaration. Only the incorrect data should be corrected, or the missing data should be added. There is no need to re-submit all details that were previously reported correctly. A corrective ESL return should tick the third page in the form.
Penalties for late German ESL returns
If the German ESL return is not filed on time, there may be a fixed penalty of 1% of the non-reported amounts with a maximum of €2,500. In practice, this penalty is often not enforced, although the authorities may always impose it, particularly in case of negligence or fraud.
Also, not filing proper recapitulative statements may result in a penalty of EUR 5,000.