The first thing you need to know is that there are two closely named numbers involved in German tax regulation. The Steuernummer and the Steueridentifikationsnummer. Many expats fail to differentiate the two. They are both important but very different and must not be confused!
The Steuernummer is a tax number given to freelancers when they start a business. It allows them to issue invoices and pay tax. It is related to the region in which the business is registered and is not permanent. It has the format xx/xxx/xxxxx. You can apply for a Steuernummer at your local Finanzamt (tax office) at the same time as registering your business. You will be asked questions about the nature of your business, your expected revenue and how many people you will employ. If you are employed by a company and your tax is deducted automatically from your wages, then you do not need a Steuernummer. What you actually need is a Steueridentifikationsnummer.
The Steueridentifikationsnummer or SteuerID is a unique number allocated to all residents living in Germany. Babies born in Germany receive theirs 3 weeks after their birth. When you move to Germany and register your address, you will receive your Steueridentifikationsnummer, automatically, 3 weeks afterwards. The Steueridentifikationsnummer consists of 11 digits and is a compulsory form of tax ID. It is personal to you. It does not change when you move or get married and will remain the same for life. It is essential for all communication with the tax authority. Without one, you can’t get paid, receive benefits, open a bank account, get health insurance or claim a tax refund. Your employer needs it so they can tax you at the correct rate, without one you will get taxed at the maximum and cannot claim it back.
German Immigration – How?
You do not need to apply separately for a Steueridentifikationsnummer. You will receive one as soon as your registration (anmeldung) has been processed. If you plan on staying for more than 3 months, you must register your address within 14 days of moving there. You can make an appointment at the citizens' office (Burgeramt) online, in person or on the phone. Print off the form and fill it in advance. It is only available in German so you might need help with this. Registering your address is free, in most municipalities. If you declare yourself as either Protestant Christian or Roman Catholic in the religious preference box, you will be subject to church tax. This between 8 and 9%. If you want to avoid paying it, declare yourself as non-religious. After registration, you will automatically receive your Steueridentifikationsnummer, by post, within 3 weeks.
German Immigration- Mundialz
Moving to Germany can be a challenge for expats, its bureau-crazy! Despite all the form filling and red tape, everything is clear and straightforward. Mundialz is here to help with the entire process. Our community of professionals have personal experience and can guide you along the way.