Tax id numbers

We are sure you will agree that the tax system in Germany is extensive and complicated. This seems to be the case with the tax identification number as well.

In fact, one of these numbers is the most frequently used one.

In this article we will show you which one it is, how to distinguish the different numbers and when exactly you need which one.

1. Differences tax number, tax identification number and tax ID

1.1 What is the tax number?

The Tax number is the predecessor of the tax identification number. Nevertheless, it is still valid at present.

It helps the tax office to assign tax returns to the correct taxpayer.

1.2 What is the tax identification number (Tax ID)?

The Tax identification number (also Tax ID called) is the successor of the tax number.

It is required for the income tax return and is permanently valid. Every citizen receives it at birth.

The tax number is therefore not the same as the tax identification number. The latter was introduced in 2008 and should replace the old tax number for income tax in the long run.

Unlike the tax number, it is valid for life and does not change. It is not yet clear when the old number will be valid.

Currently, it is advisable to have both numbers at hand when dealing with the tax office.

The Tax ID stores the following personal data until 20 years after death:

  • Gender
  • Date and place of birth
  • current and previous names
  • academic degrees
  • Address incl. Date of move in and move out
  • competent tax authority
  • If applicable. Information blocks
  • date of death

In addition, further data is stored for the retrieval of wage tax deduction characteristics for the employer:

  • Religious affiliation
  • Marital status (married or partnered)
  • Tax IDs of minor children

The tax number is assigned to the taxpayer by the tax office when he or she files his or her first tax return. A taxpayer can have different tax numbers in the course of his life.

The tax ID can change z. B. change in case of a move and related change of the responsible tax authority. In addition, a change of tax number is also effected by z. B. Marriage or start of a self-employed activity.

2. What do I need the tax number and the tax identification number for??

The Tax identification number must always be specified in any communication with the tax office, z. B. of the income tax return.

It is also required for other applications, notifications and declarations, for example:

  • for the transmission of the wage tax by the employer
  • at banks for opening accounts or for issuing an exemption order in the context of capital transactions
  • For alimony payments
  • for the transmission of the electronic tax return
  • when applying for Bafog
  • for the transmission of pension benefit notifications to the Central Allowance Office (Zentrale Zulagenstelle)
  • to apply for child benefit

In addition, the German government decided in January 2021 to use the tax ID as a citizen number in the future. For management purposes, this number is then converted into ca. 50 databases maintained z. B. the vehicle and registration register.

The old Ste uernummern are only required for tax returns. They are used for identification purposes when communicating with the tax office.

Unlike the tax ID, the tax numbers are not only used for income tax returns, but z.B. also in the context of trade tax.

You can find more news on the topic of tax returns in our guide Tax returns: what’s new in 2021.

3. How to find out my tax number and tax identification number?

In 2008, the Federal Central Tax Office provided all 82 million citizens with the Tax identification number sent by mail.

The letter is called "Allocation of the identification number according to § 139b of the Tax Code (AO)".

The letter looks like this and the eleven-digit tax ID can be found there in the upper right corner:

Sample letter Tax Identification Number (Tax ID) assignment

If you were born after 2008, your tax identification number will be sent to you automatically after your birth.

If the letter is no longer available, the tax ID can also be found on the following documents:

  • Wage tax statement from the employer
  • Income tax notice (top left)
  • Other correspondence with the tax office

The tax ID of your own children can also be found on the tax assessment notice.

The tax number Will be issued only after the first tax return is filed. Afterwards, it can also be found on the income tax certificate or the tax assessment notice.

The tax number consists of 13 digits and is basically made up of three parts.

Here is a sample tax notice. Tax number and tax identification number (tax ID) can be found at the top left:

Sample tax notice for income tax return with tax number and tax identification number (tax ID)

Register with Zasta in less than 3 minutes and calculate your tax refund for free. For this you only need your tax ID!

4. How to apply for my tax number and tax identification number?

If the tax identification number and tax number can no longer be found, they can be applied for again.

The Tax ID can be requested on the website of the Federal Central Tax Office via an online form.

As a rule, you will then receive a reply after four weeks exclusively in writing to the current registration address. In case of queries, the processing time can be extended up to 10 weeks.

For data protection reasons, the tax ID will not be communicated by e-mail or telephone. You can get the tax identification number u.a. but you can still apply for a new one via these channels:

  • via e-mail to [email protected]
  • via telephone at 0228 406-1240
  • or by letter to the Federal Central Tax Office, 53221 Bonn, Germany

The Tax number can be requested again from the responsible tax office. The prerequisite is that a tax return has already been filed. Otherwise there is no tax number yet.

The responsible tax office can be found out quickly using the Tax Office Finder from the Federal Central Tax Office.

How do I get the tax ID number as a foreigner??

Foreigners receive the tax identification number after they have been to the residents’ registration office. Subsequently, the Federal Central Tax Office sends the tax ID in writing to.

It is also different if you are not registered in Germany, but still have income here. Then you have to contact the relevant tax office. The tax authority will then apply for the tax ID number directly.

5. Other tax identification numbers

5.1 Business identification number

For self-employed persons, legal entities and associations of persons there will be a business identification number in the future.

The work for the introduction of this number is currently still ongoing .

The business identification number (W-IdNr.) is to be assigned in addition to the tax identification number. This is to clearly separate the company area from the private area.

5.2 Sales tax number and sales tax identification number

Since 1993 there is the sales tax identification number. This is required by companies to participate in the movement of goods and services within the territory of the European Union.

It is not needed domestically, here the sales tax number is sufficient.

As an entrepreneur, this must be indicated on every invoice that shows sales tax.

It will be assigned to you by the tax authorities as soon as you start a larger company.

Those who make use of the small business regulation indicate the familiar tax number on their invoices instead.

5.3 eTin

The employer electronically transmits wage data to the tax office. This data is encrypted. For identification and correct assignment, a code is required, the eTin (electronic Taxpayer Identification Number).

This is created by the employer from the employee’s personal data, such as surname, first name or date of birth. It can be found on the left side of the income tax certificate.

But the eTin is only an interim solution. It is used temporarily until a tax ID is available.

Today, the eTin is practically only used domestically for employees with limited tax liability who are not required to declare.

5.4 Social security number& Pension insurance number

The social security number (VSNR for short) is assigned by pension insurance institutions. It is also colloquially called pension insurance number.

It consists of letters and numbers and is used to uniquely identify persons in the social security system.

Since 2005, every citizen is automatically assigned a social security number at birth. This is then valid for life.

The social security number is required in order to receive benefits from social insurances. It can be found on the social security card. This is created as soon as you take a job that is subject to social security contributions.

In addition, it is printed on every letter from the pension insurance z. B. the annual pension insurance notice.

The social security number is also needed for all transactions related to the German Pension Insurance z. B.

  • Application for partial retirement
  • Reduced earning capacity pension
  • Survivor’s pension
  • Unemployment registration

5.5 Tax office number

Each tax office has a four-digit tax office number. An employer needs it to register employees correctly for tax purposes. It is therefore often important for filling out personnel questionnaires.

The tax office number is used by the tax authorities for the correct allocation of church and wage tax.

The number depends on the municipality and corresponding postal code. A query is possible online at the Bundeszentralamt fur Steuern (Federal Central Tax Office).

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