Doing your taxes online in Estonia: A mini guide

I just did my taxes online, and I think I may have found Estonia’s most effective, most efficient digital system.

After the headache of registering my address with the population register and getting free public transport, I’d lost faith in digital Estonia. One of my favourite topics of conversation with Drew, other expats, and locals was how analogue Estonia was in reality.

“Australia’s more digital than this!” I would exclaim, “we just don’t make a big song and dance about it.”

One of the big selling points of digital Estonia, or e-Estonia, is the ability to do your taxes online. At this, I snorted. I started doing my taxes online in Australia since 2005 – big deal.

However, I might need to admit that I was mistaken. Doing my taxes online in Estonia may be the simplest digital process I’ve ever had to follow.

How did it work? Read on.

My first time declaring my income tax in Estonia

In Estonia, people are able to declare their income tax online from February 15th. So it only took three days for one of the other expats in my office to send a message to HR asking if they could take us through it.

Rather than wait for a group workshop to be set up, I decided to see how far I’d get on my own, expecting that I’d quickly run into a roadblock.

I popped onto the Estonian Tax and Customs Board website and clicked the ‘Declaration of Income’ link in the menu. From here, I clicked ‘Submission of income tax returns for 2018.’

From here I clicked a link to the E-Tax/E-Customs portal where I had the option of using my ID card, mobile ID or internet bank to login.

I’ve given up on using my ID card to get access to online services – the problem is that I always need to enter one of my two PINs as well, and I can never remember them. However, I always remember my online banking ID (that, after all, is where the money is), so I chose that option.

Like logging into my online bank, I entered my User ID and validated it with the Smart ID app on my phone. My browser opened an ‘additional services’ page, where I chose the Tax and Customs Board.

Unfortunately this was the point when there stopped being an English-language version of the portal available, but I guessed that the option that said 2018 would send me to the right place.

Here I got a little stuck – first, I missed that there was now an English option again, which means I was translating one line at a time with Google Translate. Then, when I realised there was an English version, I started with the ‘my income’ link, which just listed my liabilities (€0 for 2018).

It wasn’t until I saw the ‘declarations’ tab in the menu that I ended up in the right place.

From here, I was prepared to gather up my payslips from 2018, add up the totals (net, gross and tax) and enter them in to an online form. Instead, I was surprised to discover that my data was already in the system – my employer and the amount I had been paid in 2018 were all inputted into the form.

Since I don’t have any business income in Estonia (Grammar Factory is based in Australia), all I had to do was click ‘next’, and then entering my bank account number for my refund.

Even with my initial faffing around, I got through the entire process in about five minutes. (Take that, MyTax!)

How to use Estonia’s e-Tax portal

  1. Navigate to the e-Tax portal – https://www.emta.ee/eng/emta_login/nojs
  2. Log in using your ID card (you’ll need your PIN 1), your mobile ID or your bank details (with Smart ID). If you log in via your bank, you’ll need to choose ‘Tax and Customs’ from the additional services available.
  3. Click ‘2018 aasta tuludeklaratsioon’. (Or 2019, or 2020, if you’re reading this from the future.)
  4. Change the language to English.
  5. Click on the ‘Declarations’ link in the menu.
  6. Verify that the pre-populated information is correct, and add any additional income or deductions.
  7. Enter your bank details, and confirm the amount that you would like to be transferred to your account from the available rebate!

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