Miscellaneous

Business Papers after the Turn of the Year: What to Dump

At the latest when spring cleaning comes around, you notice all these documents are only "wasting" space and "gathering dust". This article will tell you what you must keep and what you can get rid of.

Tax documents are to be kept for at least 10 years (§147 IV AO). However, just because it turned 2010, you cannot automatically dispose of these documents. The storing period starts after the calendar year after the last entries have been made.....

These documents are:PAPERPILE

  • accounting receipts,
  • accounts,
  • annual financial statements,
  • customs documents which the customs office waived to see or might later want to see (art. 77 I, 62 ZK),
  • inventories,
  • other organizational documents (when they have some kind of tax relevance),
  • received business letters, copies of sent business letters,
  • records,
  • supplementary documents needed to understand the monetary situation.

§

May I store these documents electronically?

Generally, yes! When you do so the documents must be stored in an open format that is accessible even from newer programs. This practically means PDF or TIFF. Make sure that the documents are an exact(!) copy of the original. As an example, it is not sufficient to scan booking items as they were received – i.e. without booking remarks. It will suffice when these documents show the receipt stamp and booking marks. However, this is not permitted for:

  • annual financial statements,
  • opening balance sheets,
  • custom documents.

§

Who cares what these rules what these rules might say. I don't want to keep that junk! What will be the consequences when I dump everything?

In every business day of life, you will not feel the consequences. Any consequences will be an issue when a tax audit is held and the officer wants to see certain details. The consequences are that you will have a lack of evidence. You bear the burden of proving your tax situation. Not so much will your income be questioned but much more the expenses. No bill, no deduction. It's simple as that! Payroll auditing typically ought to happen every three years.
§

I have been audited? Can I now throw the stuff away?

No! The law wants you to keep all details for at least ten years. "Basta!" You never know which ideas an auditing tax official might come up with....>;>
§

 

An Example:

The annual financial statement for 1999 was drawn in August 2000. In this case, the savings period is as follows:

  • Begin of storage period: December 31, 2000
  • Permitted disposal of documents: January 1, 2011

 

Practical Hint for your Archive

It makes sense to store these "unnecessary" details in a special room (or rooms) called "archive".

Since the documents of each business year have a different storage period, it is recommendable to store everything sorted by year of archiving.

In order to maintain an overview, do not keep anything else in that room. Practice shows that documents are to be sorted by topic / contents and then in binders in shelves in the archive.

Note:

The storing period is purposely set to 10 years in this article even though some documents only need to be saved for six years. Since the exact differentiation is ambiguous, I decided to play safe and took the strictest rule. When your cellar, um archive, is already to full to the brim then consider renting storage space or as an imposition assign somebody to digitalize everything. They do not have to be produced instantly. Some other statutes might have not as long storage periods but these periods do not influence the above mentioned rules. Tax requirements, when in doubt, prevail over other!

 

Oh, you working in an eOffice? Fine! Then just store the unneeded data on another hard disk of an external drive and put it in the shelf...

 

 

Wanting to move to Germany and also have an eye on the costs. Check our calculator to get the best of quotes from companies in your vicinity !

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Emergency Services - Bait for Fraudsters?

Be it a busted pipe, clogged toilet, broken key to the apartment or blackout, it typically happens on the weekend or late in the evening when nobody else is home. This can turn out to be extremely expensive when you happen to call indifferent helpers and not one of the many companies who diligently serve the public. Here we will inform you on what precautions you can take in advance and how to find sincere emergency service, what to consider when closing a contract, when paying and especially how to legally argue when something goes wrong.

Contents:
Avoid the Need for Emergency Services, When in an Emergency: Keep calm!, Fix Price and Compare Offers, Billing Twice is Illegal, Trouble with Repairs, Damages, Kind of Payment and Taxes

Avoid the Need for Emergency Services

As the boy scouts were taught: Be prepared! Precautions can save a lot of money. You can start with depositing a key to your apartment with a neighbor of you trust. When the door suddenly slams shut behind you, do not instantly grab for the yellow pages! Consider staying overnight with friends or family until normal business hours commence. Manual laborers usually demand a surcharge for working "after hours".

When in an Emergency: Keep calm!

You can not always prepare yourself against accidents like locking yourself out of the apartment. Hustlers (mis)use the "shock" of this situation. When you hire the first provider in the yellow pages, you are apt for a surprise. Deceitful companies love to get the pole position of "A" in the list in the business directory. Best is to get a company in your vicinity that can save you fees for traveling to you ("Anfahrtspauschale") - unfortunately this is not always necessarily the case. Also prefer those being a member in professional associations. Look out for words "Mitglied in (member in) ..." or "-verband (association)".

Fix Price and Compare Offers

Whenever you have a chance, investigate what the costs will be in advance - and it is best to ask several companies. Warning! Carefully study the contract before signing it. When the contract results in a hefty price, you will be generally stuck with it. When the mechanic starts pushing you to sign, send him away; he will not be reliable. In case you hardly speak German, you found somebody to open the door, and you need to sign a contract you do not understand: Then just write in handwriting what you have understood. The idea is a "one-liner" on the contract, like: "I have to pay € 80 to have my door opened. More I do not understand." This will keep you on the safe side when this person all of sudden wants more.

Hint: So it happened that the door slammed shut behind you and the keys are indoors and you decided to start calling services to help. Now you notice after hiring a service on the phone that you found another solution and do not need or want their services anymore, then you can cancel the contract without any reasons - following the rules of remote contracts.

Billing Twice is Illegal

Untrustworthy handicrafts will try to bill you twice for the exact same service. A locksmith might try to write in his invoice an "opening fee" (okay) plus "working time" (not okay). Plumbing companies have been caught trying to bill for "removing the clog" (okay) and "dirt surcharge" (not okay). Such double computation of one's services is prohibited. Even when special tools are needed, that is generally not a reason to bill more. OLG Stuttgart (re 2 U 157/87) decided in this connection with a rotorouter firm that the employment of a service vehicle may only be invoiced when it really has been used.

Trouble with Repairs

Not all rescues are really necessary. Another trick of the black sheep is to perform unnecessary or excessive repairs. Normally, any door can be opened without having to ruin it. Supplementary work must be contracted in advance; i.e. only with the client's prior permission. So if the handyman acts arbitrarily by drilling open a cylinder then you would not have to pay anything at all. This craftsman did not perform his assignment (i.e. opening the door without damaging the lock). When this guy only starts but does not complete his assignment he has no legal right for payment. This will also be applicable when in spite of such being "stipulated" in STC. A typical German phrase would be "Bei Abbruch der Arbeit berechnen wir den bis dahin entstandenen Aufwand gemäß Preisliste. [Upon interruption of the assignment, we will invoice the performed efforts in accordance to our price list.]" The LG Munich (re 7 O 13463/89) considers this as illegal and therefore null and void. Payment is only due upon full performance.

Damages

Just as everybody else, when a repairman breaks something this person will be responsible for damages. So after work is finished, have a good look to see whether or not anything has been damaged. Practically, complaints must be made on the spot. So remember: No signature on anything when you have not carefully inspected what has been done. When you accept because the mechanic wants to leave then (legally) you are communicating that everything is okay and you must pay - even when you notice a big hole in the wall the very next second that was not there before. When something has been damaged, then write this on the bill and best do not pay anything until responsibility has been clarified.

Kind of Payment and Taxes

When you doubt that the guy is demanding the right amount, then only pay the undisputed amount and keep the rest until clarification. Be especially careful when immediate payment (especially before a stroke of work has been done) is demanded. This hints of an unserious person who only wants to put so much pressure on the customer that you will not have a real chance to study the bill. Only when it is expressly agreed upon are you required to pay in cash. When you want to include your Finanzamt on these costs, then you must pay per bank - cash payment will not qualify. Whenever it happens that you fall for an unscrupulous door opener and the emergency turns into an emergency service, the LawFon will gladly inform what to do.

When in an emergency, call the LawFon 09001 529 366 10!*

* = € 2 / min. - cell phones might differ

 

Defend Yourself Against Discrimination

– What You Can do if You are a Witness –

The following article is an edited text from the Anitdiscrimination Organization in the State of Brandenburg. The title says it all...

Write down the personal details of the offended person and of all witnesses. You may use our questionnaire or call and inform the Antidiskriminierungsstelle. You do have a right to complain against any form of racist insult or attack to the police or try to get support from migrant organizations. If you know of any organization that will really receive your report, please share this information with others by "commenting" this article.

1.) Harassment and Insults in your House

Ask your neighbor if he/she is willing to act as a witness. In accordance with the opinion of the Anti-Discrimination Organization, Landlords are not only obliged to take care of your apartment but also of your well-being in the surrounding neighborhood. Tenants can switch apartments or give notice to their tenancy, if they are harassed by their neighbors because you are a foreigner.

2.) Poor Service in Shops – Denial of Admittance in Discos or Bars

You can complain at the Trade Supervision Office (Gewerbeaufsichtsamt). No or poor service for black people, for immigrants or foreigners in general violates the rule of responsible management. This means that the authorities can fine the owner or even withdraw his business permit.

3.) Insults and Verbal Harassment

Everybody can register a complaint with the police or file a lawsuit, if somebody has been offended – be it the offended person him- or herself or any witness. The district attorney has to follow up on the case, if the verbal assault includes hatred against a special group of the population (e.g. foreigners as such, or black or Jewish people).

4.) Problems at Work

Ask your works council (Betriebsrat, Vertrauensleute) for support. If you are discriminated by your colleagues, it is considered as a "disturbance of the peace" in the company. When harassing “colleagues” and employees can be admonished or be dismissed without prior notice.

5.) A Policeman is not Taking up your Complaint

Ask for the name and personnel number of this officer; note the location, the date, the time of the incident. You can file your complaint in written form with the state attorney later at any time and best also at your local Commissioner for Foreigners (Ausländerbeauftragte) for support.

6.) Problems of your Children at School

Teachers are obliged to intervene, if there is any undemocratic behavior at school. Teachers themselves are not allowed to discriminate students. You can get support at the network for counseling schools (Beratungsnetzwerk Schule). The School Office (Schulamt) can help you to get in contact with the counselors.

 

Any questions left? Don’t hesitate to contact the  „Anti-Discrimination Office" you will more on the laws and contact information helping you against discrimination and offices to support immigrants.




Published on the old CMS: 2007/1/3
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 1,341 reads

Find a Pharmacy via SMS – but not only

The Short Message Service (= SMS) may not be as common in the U.S. as it in Germany, but what about your home country? Germans, especially kids, are really crazy about communicating via text messages or SMs (= Short Messages).

A new location-based service has been implemented recently to help you find the nearest pharmacy in your immediate vicinity comfortably and quickly via SM. This will work during normal opening hours, but it is especially intended for emergency needs during the evening.

All you have to do is send an SM reading “Apo” to 22 8 33 – from all cell phones. You can also call this number for 69 cents. “Apo” is short for Apotheke, which is German for pharmacy. Your location will be determined automatically with the help of your cell phone. After sending your request you will immediately receive a reply SM instructing you on the two nearest open pharmacies offering emergency service, including the distance to each pharmacy. This service is provided by Meocomo for www.aponet.de and costs 69 cents per SM or call. This uniform service number is available from all cell phone providers and throughout Germany.

In the mean time, this service has been extended to be reached by phone from the toll free number 0800 00 22 8 33. When you dial this number, you will have to know the zip code of your whereabouts.

You can also download an app for your iPhone or android smartphone.

 

 

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Published on the old CMS: 2006/12/30
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 1,243 reads