German Inheritance Tax - Notification of inheritance to the tax office

  1. As an heir/heiress, am I obliged to inform the tax office responsible for inheritance tax about the inheritance?

Yes, as an heir you are obliged to inform the tax office responsible for inheritance tax about the inheritance. This results from § 30 of the Inheritance Tax Act (ErbStG). You must make this notification within three months of learning of the inheritance. The same applies, for example, to the acquisition as a legatee. The required notification of inheritance is not an inheritance tax declaration.

However, there is also an exception to this obligation. If there is a will for the inheritance and this is signed

  • by a German notary public,
  • a German court or
  • abroad by a German consul or a German consul, the tax office the tax office will be informed by them. If it is clear from the will which relationship you had to the deceased, you do not have to notify the tax office any further.

However, if your acquisition includes

  • real property,
  • business assets,
  • shares in a corporation, for example a limited liability company, or
  • foreign assets.

you are obliged to inform the tax office of the transaction despite the existence of a will.

  1. Do I also have to report legacies, the compulsory portion or other acquisitions in connection with the inheritance?

Yes, all "acquisitions by reason of death" must be reported. This includes in particular

  • the acquisition as a legal heir,
  • acquisition as a testamentary heir or on the basis of an inheritance contract,
  • acquisition on the basis of a legacy,
  • acquisition on the basis of an asserted claim to a compulsory portion,
  • acquisition on the basis of a contract concluded by the testator for the benefit of third parties (e.g. from a life insurance contract) or
  • what is granted as compensation for the waiver of the assertion of claims under inheritance law (for example, the claim to a compulsory portion that has arisen or for the waiver of an inheritance).

All gifts between living persons are subject to gift tax

  1. Which tax office do I have to report the inheritance to?

In the context of gift and inheritance tax, the local jurisdiction of the tax offices is generally determined by the place of residence or habitual abode of the deceased person at the time of death or of the donor. However, not every tax office is responsible for the taxation of inheritances and gifts. Some tax offices are responsible for a larger area.

  1. Do I have to use a form for the notification?

The tax offices do not have a form for notifying the inheritance. You can write to the tax office informally.

  1. What do I have to tell the tax office?

Please provide the tax office with the following information:

  • First name and surname,
  • Your tax identification number, occupation
  • Your address, 
  • Name of the deceased person (testator),
  • Address of the deceased person,
  • Date and place of death,
  • Object and value of the acquisition,
  • Legal basis of the acquisition, e.g. statutory succession, will or legacy,
  • Personal relationship to the deceased person, such as kinship, sister-in-law or employment relationship,
  • Previous gifts from the deceased person, including type, value and date.
  1. Do I also have to submit an inheritance tax return or gift tax return without being asked to do so?

No, you are only obliged to submit an inheritance and gift tax return if your tax office asks you to do so.