Do you want to register yourself as a freelancer in Germany? Here is a line by line guide for filling Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung in English (2021 update).
In one of my earlier posts, I described the step by step procedure for registering yourself as a freelancer/self-employed entity in Germany. One of the very crucial elements and hardest steps of that procedure is to fill out the form for the declaring your freelancer taxes in Germany.
It is called the Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung AKA the form from hell ;).
When I was setting myself up as a freelancer in Germany, it took a very long time and lots of effort to find the right information. It was also the ultimate test of my German language skills as my German language courses had not prepared me for this.
So to help other expat freelancers in Germany, I have created a line by line English guide for filling Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung.
But first, let’s have a quick overview of this notorious form.
Download PDF Guide at the end of this post!
What changed for freelancer tax registration form in 2021
Post Corona, there have been some changes on the submission process for the freelancer tax registration form. These new changes apply from 1st January 2021.
- Self-employed people in Germany are required to submit this tax registration form to their responsible tax office within one month of setting up a trade or freelance business.
- You must submit the form without being requested by the tax office first.
- The form must be submitted electronically through ELSTER (available in German only) or a tax filing software such as Sorted (available in English and for free).
- If you do not wish to or cannot do this electronically, you can also submit it through a certified German tax advisor.
1. What is Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung?
Anyone intending to take up self-employment in Germany needs to fill in and submit this form to their local Finanzamt. This form provides your local tax authority with your personal and professional information for tax purposes.
2. Why do you need to fill Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung?
This is an essential step for completing your tax status and receive the relevant tax numbers for freelancing in Germany.
Based on the information you provide in this form, Finanzamt will do the following:
- Confirm your freelancer or trader status
- Assign you a tax number for your invoices
- Provide you with a VAT ID (if applicable)
- Set up an automated payment system for VAT charge or refunds, tax payments or refunds etc. (if applicable)
You May Be Interested in: How to create German VAT Invoices (Correctly!) + FREE VAT Invoice Templates
3. Where can you get Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung
Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung is used for a number of other activities as well. Make sure that you choose the right one. The exact name of the freelancer tax registration form is this:
Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung / Aufnahme einer gewerblichen, selbständigen (freiberuflichen) oder land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Tätigkeit oder Beteiligung an einer Personengesellschaft/-gemeinschaft
You can find this form online from various sources. Here some options for finding the right form and filling it online.
3.1. Find the form on Google
Google Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung. Generally, the first result will lead you to the right sources i.e. the website of Bundesministerium der Finanzen or a Finanzamt.
3.2. Get it from the website of your local Finanzamt
Your local Finanzamt will also have this form on their website.
You can search for your responsible Finanzamt by using search terms ‘your city’ + Finanzamt. Usually, the first search result will be correct.
In the case of big cities, you may see multiple Finanzamt offices like ‘Finanzamt Nürnberg-Süd’, ‘Finanzamt Nürnberg-Nord’ and ‘Zentralfinanzamt Nürnberg’.
In such cases, just type in ‘your district + ‘zuständiges Finanzamt’. Sometimes typing in with your postcode can also lead you in the right direction.
3.3. Access it through the website of Bundesministerium der Finanzen
Go to the website of Bundesministerium der Finanzen. The form that you need is the top one on the list titled;
001 – Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung / Aufnahme einer gewerblichen, selbständigen (freiberuflichen) oder land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Tätigkeit oder Beteiligung an einer Personengesellschaft/ -gemeinschaft (Formular-ID: 034250)
Once you find the right form, it will direct you to ELSTER where you can register (if you don’t have an ELSTER account) and start filling up the form.
4. What do you need for filling Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung
As mentioned above, you can fill it up online through ELSTER or by using a German tax filing tool.
Watch this 4 minutes video tutorial on how to use Sorted to fill the freelance tax registration form in English.
Have the following information ready on your desk when you start filling up your registration form.
- Your German tax ID number or Identifikationsnummer (again, not tax number or Steuernummer)
- Your personal details
- Your bank details
- An exact description of your future self-employment activity in German
- Financial details of your future self-employment activity
5. Understanding the Sections in Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung
Before you fill in the lines, it is important to understand what exact information you are adding in this form. It will help you go through the form quicker.
There are eight sections in this form. I have translated them in English along with a brief explanation of what they are.
|1.||Allgemeine Angaben||General information about you and your work|
|1.1||Steuerpflichtige(r)/Beteiligte(r)||Your Last and First Name|
|1.2||Ehegatte/Ehegattin/eingetragene(r)/ Lebenspartner(in)||Your Spouse/wife/registered civil partner|
|1.3||Kommunikationsverbindungen||Your Communication Details|
|1.4||Art der Tätigkeit (genaue Bezeichnung des Gewerbezweiges)||The exact name of your intended profession. Describe it as precisely as possible. This description will help your caseworker determine whether you fit in as a freelancer (freiberufler) or a trader (Gewerber). An example of a description will be ‘Online market berater(in).|
Bankverbindung(en) für Steuererstattungen/SEPA-Lastschriftverfahren
|Bank Account(s) for Tax Refunds/SEPA Direct Debit. Here you can add one bank account for ALL tax-related transactions. You can also use separate accounts for business-related or personal transactions.|
|1.6||Steuerliche Beratung||Add the details of your Tax advisor (if you have one).|
Empfangsbevollmächtigte(r) für alle
|Here you will confirm if your tax advisor in subsection 1.6 has power of attorney and can file tax documents on behalf of you.|
|1.8||Bisherige persönliche Verhältnisse||Previous address if you changed address within the last 12 months.|
|2.||Angaben zur gewerblichen, selbständigen (freiberuflichen) oder land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Tätigkeit||Information about intended commercial, self-employed (freelance) or agricultural and forestry activity|
|2.1||Anschrift des Unternehmens||Address of your company. If you are a solo freelancer, then you can use your name plus your service. For example, my official business is name is Yamini Gautam Online Marketing. Another example could be John Connor Photography|
|2.2||Beginn der Tätigkeit (inklusiveVorbereitungshandlungen)||Write down the start of your work (including preparatory actions)|
|2.3||Betriebsstätten||Write down your company branches sites if you have any. This option probably does not apply to you if you are a freelancer.|
|2.4||Handelsregistereintragung||Record of the Commercial Registration – again, add only if applicable.|
|2.5||Gründungsform (Bitte ggf. die entsprechenden Verträge beifügen!)||Form of incorporation (Please enclose the corresponding contracts if necessary!)|
|2.6||Bisherige betriebliche Verhältnisse||Describe your past working situation of the last five years. If you have had any business, self-employment or freelanced or an agricultural and forestry activity then add the details here.|
|3.||Angaben zur Festsetzung der Vorauszahlungen (Einkommensteuer, Gewerbesteuer)||In this section, you will add information on the determination of advance payments (income tax, trade tax)|
|3.1||Voraussichtliche Einkünfte aus:||Here you can add your estimated income from the following. If you are a freelancer then only Self-employment activities may apply to you.|
|Land- und Forstwirtschaft||Agriculture and forestry|
|Selbständiger Arbeit||Self-employment activities|
|Nichtselbständiger Arbeit||Income from non-self-employment work|
|Kapitalvermögen||Investments and Financial assets|
|Vermietung und Verpachtung||Renting and leasing|
|Sonstigen Einkünften (z. B. Renten)||Other income (e.g. pensions)|
|3.2||Voraussichtliche Höhe der-||Add the estimated amount of the|
|Sonderausgaben||Special business expenses and depreciation|
Sections 4 – 8
|4.||Angaben zur Gewinnermittlung||Add Information about how you will report your income to Finanzamt.|
|Gewinnermittlungsart||Here you can describe the method of income reporting.
You have a few options here, but most freelancers in Germany choose ‘income statement’ or a ‘balance sheet’ methods.
|5.||Freistellungsbescheinigung gemäß § 48b Einkommensteuergesetz (EStG)-||Exemption certificate according to § 48b of the German Income Tax Act (EStG).
This section is for those who want to apply for a certificate of exemption from a tax deduction for construction services. This part does not apply to most freelancers in Germany.
|Angaben zur Anmeldung und Abführung der Lohnsteuer||Information on the registration and payment of Wage tax. This section is relevant for those who have employees. If you do not have any employees then leave out this section.|
|7.||Angaben zur Anmeldung und Abführung der Umsatzsteuer||In this section you will add information for the registration and payment of VAT tax.
You will also add your estimated total revenue, whether or not you want to opt-in Kleinunternehmerregelung, and other fields.
There is also an option to establish a Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS). If you sell digital content (software, ebooks, apps) or digital services (web hosting, referrals, software as a service) to customers in other EU countries, you can opt for a Mini-One-Stop-Shop. Read more about it here.
|8.||Angaben zur Beteiligung an einer Personengesellschaft/-gemeinschaft||This section is relevant to those who are establishing a partnership or a joint venture.|
6. Line by Line Guide for Filling up Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung in English
Please note that even though this line by line Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung guide is in English, you should fill this form in German. If you do not have sufficient German skills, get help from a German friend or family or a translator to formulate your answers.
Here’s how you can use this guide:
After Downloading the PDF, you will find a number of yellow boxes called ‘Notes’. There is a note for each line or a group of lines. Click on any yellow box to open the guide. You will see the description and required action for that line.
To close the box, simply click on another yellow box or any other field in the form.
My recommendation would be to use a different copy of Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung in English. This PDF guide is not editable. You can also use the online form mentioned in subsection 3.3 and aim to fill this form within 45 minutes.
Now without further ado…download your 2020 updated guide to Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung in English.