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 !
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.
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.