Once a year every taxpayer needs to fill out a tax return form and submit it to the tax office. I know that some expats have already started looking for an accountant who can help them go through the process. That makes sense in many cases. However, sometimes it’s possible to deal with a tax return without any assistance, for free. This is why I’ve described the process of submitting PIT in English. Check out how to fill out the PIT-37 form, and decide if you really need an accountant this year. I described only the easiest scenario: a single person working for one company in Poland on the basis of the employment contract, with not extra income, who hasn’t earned income from abroad in 2016 and is a Polish tax resident.
It wouldn’t be possible to write an article about PIT in English without Rafał Ryba. Rafał not only helped me to make a research, but he also sent me his own translation of the PIT-11 form, and agreed to publish it on JustAsk Poland, so now it will be much easier for you to understand what is written on the form from your employer.
How does the system work in general?
There are many different PIT forms to choose from. Most people use the PIT-37. You can use it as well unless you have received revenue from someone who hasn’t paid the advances from your income and hasn’t submitted the PIT-11 form for the money that he’s paid to you. That happens for example when you:
- receive revenue from abroad in the tax year that you submit your tax return form for;
- conduct a business activity;
- rent someone a property.
PIT-37 is definitely the form for you if you came to Poland to work for a company here, you have no extra income, and you haven’t earned money abroad in 2016. In other cases you need to contact your tax office to ask for help (some clerks are helpful, sometimes they’re not too cooperative, but it’s most probable that they’ll agree to help you only in Polish), or you need to get an accountant. Here you will find some general information about the income tax in Poland.
So first you obtain a PIT-11 form from your employer. He also submits the form to the tax office. Then you take care of the PIT-37 form. Later after the submission of your form the office may either accept your tax return calculations, or call you to correct some data. You may either get a tax refund, or you will need to pay extra money.
- You must receive a PIT-11 form from your employer by 28th February
- You must submit your PIT-37 form by 2nd May
It’s better to deal with that task in March or in the beginning of April to avoid stressful queues.
Step 1 – Prepare documents
First you need to collect PIT-11 forms from all the employers and mandators who have paid you in 2016. As for this article let’s say that you had only one employer, so you need only one PIT-11 form. Remember about the translated PIT form provided by Rafał.
There is one more important thing to check: which tax office you should submit your documents to. The form should be submitted to the office designated for the area that you lived in until the the last day of the previous tax year – 31st December. If you believe that your HR department has correctly chosen a tax office for you, you can copy its name from section A5 of the PIT-11 form. If you want to make sure that they didn’t make a mistake before you start filling out the PIT-37 form you may check that on this Polish website.
This is also the moment when you need to consider if you have the right to tax reliefs. Some basic information regarding this topic has been given by the Ministry of Finance on this website. If you’re a Polish speaker, you may find more details here or here. I realize that you need to know more about that. Join my Facebook page and ask your friends to do that as well. When the blog becomes more popular, a tax consultant will agree to write an article about tax reliefs :). For now, we won’t use any reliefs except from health and social insurance contributions – which are basic.
Step 2 – Choose a way to fill out a form
There are two the best options to fill out a PIT-37 form. The first one is to download an official program (e-Deklaracje) provided by the Ministry of Finance, and to copy all the data from your PIT-11 form. The second one is to use PFR – pre-filled tax return forms – from the servers of the Ministry of Finance. The second solution is easier because you don’t have to copy the numbers that your employer has already submitted in his PIT-11 form. The interface is also friendlier. The only problem is that PFR won’t be available for the taxpayers until the middle of March. Why? Because data from your employer’s PIT-11 forms must be first submitted and processed. Follow me on Facebook – I will let you know when FPRs will be available. If you don’t want to wait, you don’t have to. Fill out your form with the e-Deklaracje program. This option can be used as soon as you receive a PIT-11 form from your employer – so probably even now.
I have very important information for those who haven’t submitted the PIT form yet. This year the Polish tax office introduced a new kind of service – they’re now filling out the PIT-37 forms for taxpayers. Now you can not only submit the form online, or use the PFR system, but you may also have your tax return prepared for you by the tax office. Find out more here: PIT-WZ. The tax office will now fill out the PIT-37 form for you.
I described both ways in detail.
Check out both descriptions and decide which option you choose:
Step 3 – Submit the papers
You can either submit the papers on-line, or print it out and go to the office.
It could be a good idea to go to the tax office in person especially when you expect to get a tax refund. Normally the office would use a post office transfer to send you the money. The cost of the transfer would be deducted from your refund. If you wish to receive it by a bank transfer, you should indicate your account number. If you’ve already provided your office with the number, you don’t repeat that every year. How does it look like in practice?
a. When you have a PESEL number
When you have a PESEL number, it’s highly possible that the office doesn’t know your account number. In this case you should go to the office and submit the the ZAP-3 form to indicate your account number. You may fill it out here and then print it out, or you can easily find a copy of it in every office (if the interactive pdf file won’t work, try to open it in another web browser – only Internet Explorer works for me).
If you received tax refunds in the previous years, your bank account should be recognized in the database of the office, so you don’t need to bother with the ZAP-3 form and you can submit your PIT-37 form online.
b. When you don’t have a PESEL, and you use a NIP
Do you remember that when you applied for a NIP on a NIP-7 form you were asked in the section D.1. to indicate your personal bank account number? It wasn’t necessary. Check it out here: NIP for foreigners. If you have filled it out, then your account number is in the database, and you can submit the form online. If you left it empty you need to go to the tax office and fill out a NIP-7 form again to add a bank account to your data.
c. When you used to have a NIP only, but you’ve obtained a PESEL number recently
You need to go to the tax office and submit a ZAP-3 form to notify the office that you are included in the PESEL register now. As soon as you do that you no longer use a NIP number. You still keep it home though, because it will be needed when you’ll register as an entrepreneur in Poland.
Step 4 – Tax refund, or additional payment
When the office confirms that you should obtain a tax refund of an amount bigger than 8,80 zł, they will send you the money within 90 days. The additional payment should be made by you in March or April.
That should be it for this year. I hope that you got a huge tax refund so that you can reward yourself for all the effort spent on tax issues with a tasty food, a cold beer, or anything that you like.
If you wish to compare this article with the sources, make sure to read the articles written before January 2017 carefully, as many facts could have changed. Only two sources are written in English; the rest are in Polish.