Jaroslav Plotnikov

IT Freelance in Germany: FAQ

You don’t have a German passport? Then this FAQ about IT Freelance for you

Picture: www.fr.123rf.com/ image ID : 32268627

 

Hi there, feel free to ask your questions in the comments below (no registration required). If you wanna follow this article click here for newsletters.

 

QUESTIONS

 

– How do I start my freelance in Germany?

– Registration of self-employment – how much are the fees?

– Do I have to inform my employer, health insurance company and the immigration office?

– How do I register my income and expenses?    

– Do I have to write a business plan, financial plan, business concept?

– Do I need a business bank account?

– Differences between Freiberufler / Gewerbe / Einzelunternehmer / Kleinunternehmer?

– Who classifies IT freelancers as freelancers or as trader?

– What is the better status: Freiberufler oder Kleinunternehmer?

– What is the difference between: Gewerbe – Unternehmen – Unternehmer?

– What is the difference between an Unternehmer und Kleinunternehmer?

– What is the small business regulation – Kleinunternehmerregelung?

– What is pseudo self-employment – Scheinselbständigkeit?

– What tax does a (foreign) IT freelancer have to pay in Germany?

– Does an IT freelancer have to have a tax consultant and/or accountant?

– Why should I put aside 30-40% of my income?

– How do I know how much money to send to the tax office as a tax prepayment?

– What is pseudo self-employment?

 

 

 

ANSWERS

 

– How do I start my freelance in Germany?

Read the article: How to start IT-freelance if you already work in Germany – 3 very first steps

 

– Registration of self-employment – how much are the fees?

– If the tax office classifies you as a freelancer (Freiberufler), your formalities cost 0 Euro. If you are classified as an entrepreneur (Unternehmer) / tradesman  (Gewerbe), the registration fee totals 15 euros (online registration) up to a maximum of 31 euros (registration happens directly at a trade office or public order office).

 

– Do I have to inform my employer, health insurance company and the immigration office?

You only have to inform your employer about your intended self-employment if this is explicitly stated in your employment contract. So, read your employment contract. If it doesn’t say anything about it, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to inform your employer.

Informing your insurance company of your intention to become self-employed is not a mandatory, but it is just a common sence. As soon as you work a lot self-employed, the monthly amounts will change significantly (guess whether they will be higher or lower 🙂 ). Sooner or later your insurance company will notice that you are working self-employed. It is quite possible that you will have to back pay a lot. Even if you haven’t had a doctor’s appointment in months. Isn’t it reasonable to find out in advance how much your monthly payments can be changed?

You must inform the Immigration Office in advance of your intended self-employment because as a full-time freelancer another visa category is required: Residence permit for the purpose of freelance or self-employment (Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur selbstständigen oder freiberuflichen Tätigkeit). If you have an unlimited residence permit, e.g. a so-called settlement permit, you do not have to inform the Immigration Office.

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

– How do I register my income and expenses?    

– To register your earnings, all your invoices must be stored in a secure location with the following invoice numbers. The same goes for receipts as proof of your expenses. Keep both for 10 years. 

 

– Do I have to write a business plan, financial plan, business concept?

– You need a business plan and a financial plan in two cases: a) to get a visa / residence permit; b) to get financing for your company.
Note that when applying for a visa / Residence permit for the purpose of freelance or self-employment, a trader needs to submit significantly more documents. Thus a freelancer does NOT need to submit the following documents: the company profile, the business plan, the business concept, the capital requirement plan. Source: service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/305249/en/

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

– Do I need a business bank account?

– A business bank account (Geschäftskonto*) costs more money than a regular current account (Girokonto*). Therefore banks are interested in opening a business account. Besides, a bank wants to win and keep you as a regular customer. That’s why most banks close their eyes when you start with your current account. In the second year you may want to switch to the business account yourself. After all, it is not too expensive (10-20 Euro per month) and there are good reasons for it, e.g. you could have received credit card payments.

 

– What are the differences between Freiberufler / Gewerbe / Einzelunternehmer / Kleinunternehmer?

– The only difference lies in taxation. There are two large categories here: а) Freelancer as Freiberufler and b) Trader as Unternehmer. The term Einzelunternehmer refers to category “b” and means “sole proprietor”. You can practice your freelance in both categories, as a Freiberufler and as a Unternehmer. See also the article: IT Freelance in Germany: FREELANCER vs TRADER

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

– Who classifies IT freelancers as freelancers or as trader?

– After you have submitted the questionnaire for tax registration to the tax office (Finanzamt), officials there decide in which category to place you: Freelancer or sole proprietor. If you do not agree with this decision, you can appeal and try to change the decision.

 

– What is the better status: as Freiberufler or as trader (Gewerbe)?

– In my personal opinion Freiberufleris better, at least in the IT industry. Because: 

 

– What is the difference between: Gewerbe-Unternehmen, Gewerbetreibender-Unternehmer??

– For you as a freelancer in the IT industry, the difference is not important. For freelancers / sole proprietors these terms are synonyms.

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

– What is the difference between an Unternehmer und Kleinunternehmer?

– The main difference: less tax, simplified accounting. By the way, both (freelancer as Freiberufler and freelancer als Einzelunternehmer can also be taxed as a KleinunternehmerSee also the article:Who is a Small Business Owner (Kleinunternehmer)?

 

– What is the small business regulation – Kleinunternehmerregelung?

Kleinunternehmerregelung – is a simplified form of taxation for low turnover entrepreneurs. Based on § 19 UStG). See also the articleWho is a Small Business Owner (Kleinunternehmer)?

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

– What is pseudo self-employment – Scheinselbständigkeit?

As an example the following situation: You as a freelancer have only one client. Your self-employment is similar to the normal employment: work in the office (no remote work), in regular days and times. In this case, pseudo self-employment can be assumed. What to do about it? Have more than one employer or work for an intermediary who can place several clients with you.

 

– What tax does a (foreign) IT freelancer have to pay in Germany?

– A foreign self-employed person pays absolutely the same tax as a German self-employed person: #1 VAT (Umsatzsteuer / Mehrwertsteuer); #2 income tax (Einkommensteuer); #3 trade tax (Gewerbesteuer). S. auch den Artikel: IT Freelance in Germany: 3 types of tax that everyone should know

 

– Does an IT freelancer have to have a tax consultant and/or accountant?

– There is no law for freelancer that prescribes hiring a tax consultant or accountant. You may do all the accounting and taxation on your own. However, you save a lot of stress and time as soon as you get professional help. A great thing about it – you can “connect” the tax consultant and the tax office – if the officials in the tax office have questions, you will write directly to your tax consultant and clarify everything with him.

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

– Why should I put aside 30-40% of my income?

If you are subject to regular taxation (Regelbesteuerung) and earn more than €1000 in an average month, it is quite possible that the tax office wants to get some tax in advance in the second or third business year. You’d have to pay that amount sooner or later anyway. That can be quite a bad surprise. However If you deposit 35-40% of your sales into a separate account or sub-account, you are 100% secure. Thanks to this sub-account you always have enough money in hand for the tax office and to pay your tax consultant. As a small business owner, you don’t necessarily need such a sub-account, because a small business owner pays very little tax.

 

go to Index of QUESTIONS

 

To be continued. If you wanna follow this article and get informed about new Questions-Answers  click here for newsletters.

If you have a question, feel free to write it in the comments below (no registration needed).

 


* – By the way, the GLOSSARY contains translations and explanations of German terms and abbreviations.

** – Strictly spoken, “the visa” is a permit just to enter the country and stay no longer then 3 months. German Embassy in Moscow on its website explains that the visit longer than 3 months is not a “visa” but a residence permit. A residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis or Aufenthaltstitel) is available as a limited and unlimited.

 

© 2018 Jaroslav Plotnikov ( All articles )

 

Copy&share: jaroslavplotnikov.com/freelance-faq

Your thoughts? Please leave a reply:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • 1. Alex (27-07-2018)

    In Russian version you have more questions-answers 😉

    Reply