If you have successfully obtained an “artist’s visa” (that is, a permit to work freelance in Germany), congratulations! A big part of your battle through the web of German bureaucracy is now complete. Even better if you already have clients and contacts lined up. Now it’s time to get working and watch the money come rolling in!
Firstly though, you’ll need a freelance tax number (Steuernummer) that you write on all of your invoices. Don’t think that the Steueridentifikationsnummer (Steuer-ID-Nr.) you received in the post when you registered your address is sufficient. It’s not. That particular tax ID number will stay with you throughout your lifetime, so keep it in a safe place, you’ll probably need it at some stage. But the German Tax Office (Finanzamt) needs more information about you, your business activities, and your predicted turnover before they can give you a freelance tax number (Steuernummer) to start billing your clients from Germany.
To apply for this magical number, you need to fill out a form called Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung, available here. It’s eight pages long and contains lots of important questions regarding
- your identity and personal circumstances
- the structure of your business activity
- the nature of your occupation/s
- your predicted turnover and expenses
- how you will deal with VAT
- … and plenty more.
The information you give on this form will determine how the tax office deals with your tax affairs in the coming years. When you’re done, you send it off to your local Finanzamt and wait a few weeks. You should receive a tax number in the mail. If you want to clarify some answers, you can always deliver the form personally and ask a case worker there to check over your answers.
If you’re an artistic freelancer starting out and you want help translating the form, feel free to book an hour of Telephone Time with Red Tape Translation. Consult a tax advisor if you want professional advice about your answers or how to deal with your tax affairs in Germany.
Red Tape Translation (Kathleen Parker) has been helping expats with German bureaucracy since 2012. Red Tape’s services are great for written and telephone translations, making German phone calls, or getting a translator to come with you to your appointments in Berlin.