Decisive factor

Also known as: Principle of relevance, material relevance

Beim Maßgeblichkeitsprinzip wird die steuerrechtliche mit der handelsrechtlichen Determination of profits verknüpft. Verankert ist dieses Prinzip in § 5 Absatz 1 vom Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG).

Definition / explanation

Es gibt die Grundsätze der ordnungsgemäßen Buchführung im Rahmen vom Handelsgesetzbuch. Diese sind nach dem Maßgeblichkeitsprinzip auch für die Aufstellung einer Tax balance gültig.

In other words, it is said that with regard to the trade balance, a decisive factor with regard to the tax balance is valid.

Changes by BilMoG 2009

The Balance Sheet Modernization Act (BilMoG) came into force in 2009. An addition was made to Section 5 (1), first sentence. The right to vote plays a role in this. Now the trade balance is no longer relevant to the tax balance.

However, the principles required for the preparation of the trade balance remain valid. In addition, these principles also apply to the tax balance sheet. There is no longer a mandatory link to the trade balance sheet with the valuation and the approaches it contains with regard to the preparation of the tax balance sheet.

The reverse relevance

Until 2009 it was possible to exercise purely tax options (e.g. special depreciation) in the trade balance sheet. These were so-called opening clauses, which were listed in the Commercial Code.

With the coming into force of the Balance Sheet Modernization Act, these clauses became obsolete. Deviations can occur with regard to the tax balance sheet and the commercial balance sheet. These are clearly evident in the amount of the balance sheet, which is also referred to as the valuation.


  • The principle of relevance links the determination of profits under tax law with commercial law
  • after the introduction of BilMoG 2009, the trade balance is no longer relevant for the tax balance
  • the reverse relevance was also abolished in the course of the 2009 Balance Sheet Modernization Act
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