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 number; your Steuernummer. Let’s have a look on what this thing is and how to get it !
What is the Steuernummer : your German tax ID, sort of
Confusingly enough, there are 2 numbers attributed to you when you first arrive in Germany, with different uses and characteristics.
The Steuernummer is a document issued by your local tax authority office (Finanzamt) 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 ID number is a very important document that is confidential and should only be given to your employer.
If you move to a different city or city district, or change from employee to self-employed, this number can change.
This is number is issued only once and unique to you only. It will never change and stay with you whatever your situation is, where you move, etc. It will be used to identify you by the Finanzamt as well. This, you don’t need to communicate to your employer or anybody else.
These 2 ways of profiling you as a tax payer are meant to merge to be a single German tax ID in the future. A bright future where German bureaucracy will be simple and friction-free. How beautiful does that future look? 😉
What is it used for?
It is given to your employer so taxes can be taken out of your wage every month. With the Steuernummer in hands, the employer can communicate to tax services how much your wage is and thus, what share of income 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).
For self-employed people:
Your Steuernummer will be used in numerous cases, whenever communicating with the tax authorities (the Finanzamt); paying your VAT for the month, paying your local trade tax, or income tax. It’s mostly about paying unfortunately. You off-course also use it to do a tax return.
Where do I get my German tax ID (Steuernummer)?
When you are first registering in Germany
If you had this information before hand, you probably asked to get one during your Anmeldung process. In this case, the information was shared with the central tax office which will send it to you by post.
In case you didn’t receive your German tax ID, do wait 2 weeks or so before going to the Finanzamt (local tax office). The administration needs that time to update your case/files first. If you still haven’t received your Identifikationsnummer anything, you may request a new copy of from the Federal center for taxes directly on this page. Just enter your personal information that is displayed on your Meldebescheinigung and you are good to go. You can only receive a new copy of this document per post, so wait a few days after this.
If you have any other questions, you can also directly book an appointment at your local Finanzamt (from your Bezirke) or call them. There are 2 offices you can go to for this; your local Bürgeramt, or the Finanzamt. 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 ID (Steuernummer) number in your hands.
German tax number if you are switching to freelance or self-employed
The process is slightly different for freelancers and micro-companies (Freiberuflich / Gewerbe). You might 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, i have made a dedicated post on the matter here.
I lost my tax ID in Germany, how can i find it again?
If you have lost the paper or forgot how your Identifikationsnummer number goes, you can look at any letters you got from your Finanzamt or pay slips from your employers. You will find it there. If that still doesn’t work, you can request a new copy on this page to receive it by post.
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, 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! If you already made that mistake, there is also a way out. More information here.