The telephone rings, unexpectedly you answer it and hear the voice of your future employer. The boss tells you that out of 23 applicants, you are the one that got the open position. Then two days later the point has come, your supervisor sets a form in front of you. You’re supposed to provide your Steueridentifikationsnummer, which you barely noticed before. So, now it’s time to finally deal with this. Good that you found us.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TAX ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) AND A TAX NUMBER (Steuernummer)
Tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
The tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) is a tax identification number. This series of numbers is assigned to a person permanently and is recognised as the national standard. The exception is that this person must have a residence in Germany. The tax number is made up of 11 digits. Every citizen born in Germany is assigned a tax identification number. This number does not change during your lifetime.
Tax Number (Steuernummer)
The tax number (Steuernummer) is assigned to a person by the respective tax office where your place of residence is. The tax number structure has been standardised since the implementation of the ELSTER process in order to file income taxes electronically. The tax number consists of 13 digits and changes as soon as you move to a new place. Normally, the tax office responsible for your taxes will change when you move. Then the new tax office will assign you a different tax number.
WHAT IS THE TAX NUMBER (Steuernummer) AND TAX ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) USED FOR?
FOR FILING TAXES
The tax office can quickly identify and allocate income tax declarations with this number. But why do both still exist? Good question and one that needs to be answered with historical retrospection. The tax ID number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) was already introduced in 2007, which was supposed to gradually make the tax obsolete. However, there still isn’t any information about when the tax number (Steuernummer) will finally be phased out.
FOR THE EMPLOYER
When you start a new job, you must provide your new employer with your (Steueridentifikationsnummer). This is the only way wage taxes can be paid. If someone has a small job (e.g. minijob), normally you are not required to provide your (Steueridentifikationsnummer) since taxes are not incurred.
OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT
Since 2018, new bank customers are required to always provide their tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer). Business have to provide their tax number (Steuernummer) as well as their tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer). In addition to this data, information about your name, birth date and address are kept. Therefore, financial authorities can better identify the taxpayer in the future.
PENSIONERS AND THE TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
Pensioners definitely need a tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) so that their benefit period information can be sent. It is generally a good rule of thumb to adhere to number oders on applications, declarations and forms in all written correspondence with the tax office.
Students should also always have their tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) on hand. This specifically affects those who would like to apply for financial aid (BAföG). Student unions require the number (Steuernummer) in order to be able to send relevant data to the tax office. For example, they can keep a record of to what extent a student received financial aid from contributions to health and long-term care insurance (Kranken- und Pflegeversicherung) from 2016 onwards.
WHAT DO I DO IF I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO FIND MY TAX NUMBER (Steuernummer) AND/OR TAX ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer)?
No worries, you won’t be declared an outlaw. Should this be the first time you come into contact with these numbers and not know where to find them, you always have the choice of finding out.
You can ask your respective tax office for a tax number (Steuernummer). Getting your tax ID number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) is just as simple. You can apply for your tax ID number online at the “Bundeszentralamt für Steuern” (Federal Central Tax Office). However, it takes a while for your tax identification number to be sent to you. This means, it can take a good six weeks of waiting. You can click here to apply for your tax ID online.
SUMMARY OF EVERYTHING IMPORTANT
Tax number (Steuernummer)
- the German standard is a number with 13 digits
- should be replaced soon by the tax ID number
- this changes when you move
- is assigned by the tax office on the 1st tax declaration
TAX ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
- implemented in 2007
- the German standard is a number with 11 digits
- it is already assigned to you at birth