Simply scan receipts for tax with your smartphone and always have them available online – with text recognition and storage space, the new functionalities of MeinELSTER offer an improvement in digital tax returns and the basis for further simplifications.
Millions of citizens use MeinELSTER to prepare and submit their tax returns. Although receipts such as tradesmen’s invoices or interest certificates no longer have to be submitted, the tax office can request them at any time in the event of queries. And then the hustle and bustle in the proverbial shoebox begins. As a long-standing ELSTER development partner, mgm is therefore supporting the Bavarian State Tax Office in designing a “digital shoebox”: functions for MeinELSTER to digitally record and categorize receipts and, if required, to transmit them effortlessly and securely electronically. The result: the MeinELSTER+ app and the new “My receipts” area in the MeinELSTER user account. Both have recently been made available to all users.
MeinELSTER+ can be used via smartphone with the operating systems Android (from version 11) and iOS (from version 14) and is available as a download in the respective app store. The app is linked to the user account in MeinELSTER in a simple way using a QR code. Users then take photos of receipts with the app. PDF files or photos from the gallery can also be used. Even before uploading, they assign the files to categories, persons and assessment periods. In addition, they can already mark relevant data in the documents. The transmission is then encrypted in the new “My documents” area of MeinELSTER. Via the app, users can also use the chat, where they can find help on all aspects of ELSTER. The use of MeinELSTER+ is barrier-free – thanks to adaptable display formats and a read-aloud function via screen reader.
“My receipts” offers 100 MB of storage space in the personal user account. In addition to documents submitted with the app, documents can also be uploaded directly via a browser – so using the app is not a prerequisite. In the income tax form, MeinELSTER assigns the receipts based on the categories, persons and assessment periods already selected. Alternatively, this information can be assigned via drop-down menus. Currently, nine categories (for example, extraordinary expenses or investment income) with a number of subcategories are available – more are to follow. The relevant amounts can also be marked in the documents later.
What other functions are targeted?
The developers intend to continuously expand the functions of the app and the “My receipts” area in coordination with the Bavarian State Tax Office. A link between MeinELSTER+ and the authentication app ElsterSecure was already implemented at the end of March. Also in view: Adaptations of the app for an optimal user experience on tablets and optimizations of text recognition. In text recognition, the focus is on an increasingly comprehensive pre-filled tax return by means of machine learning. Currently, MeinELSTER provides this in such a way that data that has been electronically transmitted to the tax authorities (such as wage and pension statements) has already been entered (retrieval of statements). The goal is that the ever-improving text recognition system will also capture data from receipts in such a way that they are automatically included in tax returns. In the end, users receive a pre-filled tax return that they ideally only need to confirm after checking.
Website ELSTER: https://www.elster.de/eportal/infoseite/aktuelles (german only)
Blog article ELSTER: https://insights.mgm-tp.com/de/egovernment-erfolgsprojekt-elster-feiert-25-geburtstag/ (german only)