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Accounting and accounting rules in Germany

Accounting Rules

Tax Year
The tax year is 12 months or the period for which accounts are prepared, if shorter. The tax accounting period may not exceed 12 months in total.
Accounting Standards
European companies listed on the stock exchange must establish their annual consolidated accounts on the basis of IAS/IFRS standards. SMEs can use German GAAP (requirements of the German Commercial Code) or, in their consolidated financial statements, IFRS Standards as adopted by the EU.
Accounting Regulation Bodies
DRSC
Accounting Reports
Unlimited liability companies, partial liability companies (Einzelkaufleute, OHG, KG), and limited liability companies (Gmbh and AG) must draw up the following accounting documents:
- a balance sheet (Bilanz) in the format decreed by the 4th European Directive of 1978, adapted to German law in 1985
- a profit and loss account (Gewinnund Verlustrechnung)

Limited liability companies (Gmbh and AG) must also draw up the following documents:
- notes to the accounts (Anhang)
- an annual report (Lagebericht)

The financial flow table or cash flow table is obligatory only for companies listed on the stock exchange.

Taxpayers are required to maintain their books in Germany, although electronic bookkeeping may be transferred abroad if prior approval is obtained from the tax authorities.

Publication Requirements
The reporting obligations of companies depend on their legal form: small, medium, or large company (as determined according to its balance sheet, net turnover and staff employed).

Limited liability companies (Gmbh and AG), with the exception of small companies and groups of companies, must publish annual accounts and have them inspected by an outside auditor.
Unlimited liability companies (except KGaA) have no obligation to publish their accounts or to have them audited.

Large and medium-sized entities (corporations and certain partnerships) must prepare their annual financial statements, together with a management report, within three months from the end of the financial year. For small entities, the period is extended to up to six months and a management report need not be prepared. Small entities are entities that do not exceed two of the following three criteria for at least two consecutive financial years on their balance sheet dates: net turnover of EUR 12 million, total assets of EUR 6 million and an annual average of 50 employees. Listed companies and companies that have issued debt securities as domestic issuers additionally have to prepare a half-yearly financial report covering the first six months of the financial year.The financial statements and the management report of large and medium-sized entities need to be audited by a statutory auditor before they can be adopted by the board or the shareholders. All companies, except certain partnerships, are obliged to publish their financial statements and their management report without delay after presenting them to the shareholders, but not later than 12 months from the end of the financial year, by submitting them electroncally to the electronic federal gazette. For listed companies and companies that have issued debt securities as domestic issuers, the time limit for publication is four months from the end of the financial year. Half-yearly financial reports generally must be published within two months after the end of the reporting period and be submitted to the electronic company register. Penalties are imposed if the deadlines are not met.

Professional Accountancy Bodies
WPK - Wirtschaftsprüferkammer , Chamber of Auditors
IDW - Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer , Institute of Chartered Accountants
Certification and Auditing
The preparation of the annual accounts must take within three months after the end of the financial year for medium and large companies, and within six months later for small companies. You can contact an external auditor: PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Ernst & Young; KPMG; Deloitte
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Latest Update: June 2022

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