German tax card

EDIT : Since 2013, the Lohnsteuerkarte is electronic only. If you are a first time employee or freelance here, the process described here will only get you a tax number (Steuernummer). The rest is handled directly through the tax services and your employer(s).

 

Feeling this excitement in the air ? This electricity gently floating around ? This time you got it : your first job ! Congrats because it was not easy… Now the company is asking you for your German tax card, your Lohnsteurkarte.  Let’s have a look on what this thing is and how to get it !

 

german tax card

Keep calm and listen along !

What is the Lohnsteuerkarte : your german tax card

The Lohnsteurkarte is a document issued by the german government that will accompany you through your every job. On this document will be listed your personal situation and characteristics such as marital status, number of kids or religion. It holds your profile as a tax payer so to speak, that will be linked your tax number. The german tax card is a very important document that is confidential and should only be given to your employer.

What is the use for your german tax card ?

It is given to your employer so taxes can be taken out of your wage every month. With the Lohnsteuerkarte in hands, the employer can communicate to tax services how much your wage is and thus, what share of tax should be transferred to them. It is very handy because you don’t have to care how much your taxes are at the end of year. Your tax statement will only be used to get money back, in the case you were taxed too much.You now understand why your company that so badly.  I have written are more detailed post about how to get money back at the end of the year here (Steuererklärung).

 

How and where do i get it ?

If you have done your job correctly, you are now in your possession of two other documents : your Anmeldung-proof document, and your identification number (Identifizationsnummer). You will need them to obtain your German tax card.
There are 2 offices you can go to to get it, your local Bürgeramt, or the Finanzamt (Tax office). I strongly advise you to choose the second option. There are far less people there, avoiding long waiting times.

You can find here the relevant Finanzamt for you depending where you live in Berlin

Take a number, wait in line, answer a few questions and in 10 minutes, you will hold your own german tax card in your hands.

Off to work now. Chop Chop !

Tip 1 : You will be asked if you are believer or not. Don’t take it personally  it is simply used to determine if you should pay taxes for the catholic, protestant, jewish church etc. If you aren’t much in all that, don’t forget to state that you are an atheist ! Otherwise, you will pay more taxes !

Tip 2 : In case you didn’t receive your Tax ID by post after going through the Anmeldung process, do wait 2 weeks or so before going to the Finanzamt. The administration needs that time to update your case/files first.

Tip 3 : The process is slightly different for freelancers and micro-companies. You would then need a VAT-number if you want to make bills with VAT, additionally to your normal tax number. If you want to become a freelancer and don’t know where to start for bureaucracy, our partner Expath (relocation help for expats) is holding very informative workshops on the matter. Have a look here.

 

29 Comments

  • Reply Ryan Gloor 17/02/2017 at 00:46

    Hello,

    I completed my Amneldung three weeks ago but still haven’t received my tax code in the post. Should I continue waiting or would it be best to visit the Finanzamt?

    Regards,

    Ryan

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/02/2017 at 09:50

      Hi Ryan. Yes, you should probably go now.

  • Reply Arun 28/01/2017 at 21:27

    Hi guys

    I’m a bit confused. I’ve received a Tax ID in the post and have registered with the Buergeramt. Do I still need to get a Lohnsteuerkarte/ nummer from the Finanzamt? I’m not a freelancer, and will be starting a full time role with a local company.

    Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2017 at 10:36

      Hi Arun. As mentioned in the post, this is actually the normal process. You only need to go to the Finanzamt when you don’t receive it by post in the firstplace. All good.

      • Reply Arun 04/02/2017 at 17:23

        Thanks for your reply Basti. I went to the Finanzamt anyway, and they confirmed that the employer should get the ElTSAM information from the letter containing the tax reference number 🙂

    • Reply Ana 02/02/2017 at 15:51

      Hi there,
      I just did my Anmeldung and they told me that the ID number is just for Germans.
      Also, I will like to do the Tax Card tomorrow in a Finanzamt. Does anyone knows if I need an appointment or I just show up?
      I need fresh information, because things have changed since this post was written.

      Thank you!

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/02/2017 at 17:54

        Hello Ana. There must have been some kind of misunderstanding since everyone working in Germany, German or not, receives a unique Steuernummer. As mentioned in the post, it is preferable to wait 1 or 2 weeks after your Anmeldung before showing up at the Finanzamt. You can go there without an appointment.

    • Reply Ana 02/02/2017 at 15:53

      Hi there! How long did it take for you to receive your Tax ID?

  • Reply RP 25/11/2016 at 10:02

    Hi, I received my freelance tax number in the mail but I lost the document. I how do I quickly get this info again or who can I contact?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2016 at 10:19

      Hi RP. Thanks for leaving a message. You need to go to your Finanzamt, pick a number, wait in line and ask for a new copy. Alternatively, you can also find it on your bills, as you must put it there too.

      • Reply RP 25/11/2016 at 10:23

        Ah ok… well it’s not in my bills as I also work full time and have some freelance work coming up on the side.

        • Reply RP 25/11/2016 at 10:28

          HR at my full time job told me I just need my regular steuernummer for freelance work if I already registered at the finanzamt for freelance. That makes no sense to me. I thought the point of the “fragebogen fuer steuerlichen erfassung’ was to get the seperate freelance tax number which is too be used on all freelance work. She claims the one I have works for that same purpose now too since it has to do with my tax id or something. I speak broken german and am very confused right now.

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/11/2016 at 09:49

            It can happen that you have the same ID number for both your normal job and freelance job yes. The main thing is that it is all declared with your Finanzamt. They decide if you get a separate number for your freelance jobs or not.

  • Reply Luke Kristofski 07/11/2016 at 10:26

    Hi
    I am a New Zealand citizen currently living in Berlin on a one year working Holliday visa and I am looking to start my own consultancy company and become a self employed free lancer. Ive been informed I need to get a Gewerbeerlaubnis (commercial license) but in order to get this apparently I also need to get a Aufenthaltserlaubnis (resident permit)

    Do you know weather or not I am allegeable for this?

  • Reply SB 22/09/2016 at 09:39

    Hi,

    Thanks for this very useful information. I registered to Burgeramt in Karow/Buch on Sept.15th and today I went to finanzamt in Mehringdam on Sept.22th at 8:00 am. The officer told me that is too early for the Tax ID info to arrive to them. But luckily my info was already there at their system. So I COULD get my steuer-id after 1 week directly from the finanzamt.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/09/2016 at 10:06

      Thanks for the info. I will append the post.

      • Reply SB 22/09/2016 at 14:54

        Also I want to say that the officer spoke English – this was the most scary part for me as I do not speak a single word in German – and everything was very fast. I was early there, but there was only one other guy, and I waited only for a couple of minutes and getting my info took only a few minutes. Everything was so smooth. I wanted to share this experience because there is sooo much bad experience being shared in the forums and I was very very worried about these bureaucracy things after reading all such unpleasant experiences.

  • Reply Manuel 14/09/2016 at 14:24

    Be careful guys, there a trick:

    I did my anmeldung this morning and went straight to the finanzamt to get my tax id and it was impossible as you have to wait one week from the moment you receive the anmeldung. I’m not sure why… But I just wasted two hours!
    Maybe this should be added in the article somewhere.

    Cheers

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/09/2016 at 09:49

      Hey Manuel. Thanks a lot for the input. I didn’t know this limitation. I didn’t mention it because people usually wait a week or two to see if they receive a TAX ID by post, which they do most of the time. I will add it. Thanks again. 🙂

  • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 18/08/2016 at 12:26

    Hi there,
    Just to let you know, I called http://www.berlin.de/sen/finanzen/steuern/finanzaemter/friedrichshain-kreuzberg/ and they say that now they changed the procedure, we need to complete this form and they send it to your house
    https://www.bzst.de/DE/Steuern_National/Steuerliche_Identifikationsnummer/ID_Eingabeformular/ID_Node.html

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/08/2016 at 16:56

      Thanks for the update Marina. Are you sure this is correct? Because this link makes me land on a form where i can ask to be sent my IdNr when i already have one and i forgot or lost it.

      • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 19/08/2016 at 18:31

        It is a bit confusing though, because it says „Repeated Inquiry of your tax ID“ but the lady on the phone said, that we should use it also if we want to get a tax ID in the first place. So maybe in six weeks I can tell you if I got the card or not.

        • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 01/09/2016 at 17:21

          Ok, I received a letter from them requesting a copy of my Anmeldung proof and also copy of passport. I send those two things and now waiting. Will keep you updated

      • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 14/09/2016 at 10:22

        Hi there! I did receive my Tax Number now! It took less than a month, so keep that in mind.
        I work for a company here, not a freelancer, so I’m not sure if this also applies for freelancers.

  • Reply waqas 12/11/2015 at 00:44

    Thanks A lot for yours kind information , today i have been told by my Admin that i need my Steuer Id Number because i have been working since august and i didnt have my St Nummer,after being told I was affraid what to do and where to find it, as i am not good in Deutsch Language but yours information helped me A lot .
    firstly i will go to Bürgramt after that if it wont work then i will go to financeamt hope it will work. Again God Bless you and many thanks 🙂

  • Reply Jonas 01/06/2015 at 22:57

    Hi there,
    i would like to point out that the physical tax card is not being issued anymore, it’s virtual and online.

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 02/06/2015 at 12:54

      Thanks for the precision. I indeed forgot to put that in. 🙂

    • Reply Nicö 19/01/2016 at 13:06

      Hi Jonas,
      Where can I find this? I’ve looked everywhere.

      Best,
      Nicö

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