Tax number – where to find it!

Every year the same thing when pondering over the tax return: What was my tax number again?? Where is it located? Is tax number and tax identification number the same thing?? And who actually needs a sales tax identification number? We shed some light on the differences and, of course, where to find the appropriate tax number.

Why is there a tax number and a tax identification number??

The first question that arises here is certainly why there are two numbers at all. And unfortunately these numbers are not identical.

The Tax identification number (The tax ID was introduced in 2008 in order to modernize the taxation procedure. It is intended for income tax and accompanies every taxpayer throughout his or her life and even 20 years beyond death. The tax identification number therefore remains – unlike the previous tax number – z. B. unchanged even after a move.

In the longer term, the tax identification number should replace the "old" one Tax number replace it for income tax. How long the "old" tax number will continue to be valid has not yet been determined. When the time has come that the tax number is no longer necessary, however, it will be possible to recognize this on the tax forms. It is often recommended to indicate both the tax number and the tax identification number in any kind of communication with the tax office for a transitional period. This is to facilitate the work of the tax office.

Tax number - where to find it!

How are the tax number and the tax identification number structured??

The Tax identification number, in short Tax ID, is permanently and uniformly assigned to a person if he or she has a permanent residence in Germany, and is an eleven-digit number in which exactly one number occurs twice.

The Tax number has 13 digits and looks similar everywhere in Germany, but differs in some small details depending on the federal state. The number follows approximately the following scheme: a/b/cp, where a stands for the federal tax office number, b shows which tax office, in which district it is, c is something like the personal tax number and p represents a one-digit check digit.

Where do I find out my tax identification number and my tax number?

The Tax identification number In 2008, all of Germany’s 82 million inhabitants received a tax identification number by mail from the Federal Central Tax Office. The letter has the subject "Allocation of the identification number according to § 139b of the Tax Code (AO)" and the personal Identification number is written boldly on the right in the upper third. If you are born after this date, it will be sent automatically after your birth. A sample of the notification letter can be found here.

If you no longer have the letter from ten years ago, please look at page 1 of your last Tax assessment notice: there is the tax identification number in the upper left corner. And once you are there: the "old" tax number is written directly below it. You can also find both numbers on the income tax statement that you receive from your employer as an employee.
If you are filing a tax return for the first time By the way, if you submit a tax return, it is sufficient to provide only the tax identification number.

What if I can no longer find my tax identification number??

Not everyone has a tax certificate, where he can quickly look up the numbers. Let’s not even talk about the ten year old letter.
The Tax identification number you can have the Federal Central Tax Office send it to you again. The easiest way is online. Click on this link, fill in the form (gender, surname, first name, date of birth, place of birth, current address) and click on "Send". Currently, you have to wait a few weeks until your tax identification number is in your mailbox – so it comes by mail.

What if I can’t find my tax number anymore?

With the old Tax number there are two variants: If you have never filed a tax return with the tax office, you also do not have a tax identification number. If you are doing it now for the first time, just file the tax return without a tax identification number. In the tax assessment, your tax number will be shown under the tax identification number.

If you have already filed a tax return, you simply need to ask your local tax office for the number. You can quickly find out which one with our tax office finder.

And last but not least: If you have married If you file your tax return together ("joint assessment"), you will receive a new joint tax number with your tax assessment notice.

What is the VAT identification number (VAT ID)??

The VAT identification number (short: USt-ID) is not for the identification of private persons, but for companies in the EU. Entrepreneurs can apply for it in addition to their tax number or tax ID. The VAT ID consists of the country code followed by up to twelve digits. In Germany, for example, it might look like this:


The VAT ID makes it easier to conduct business between companies within the EU. If you are planning to sell goods to another EU country, you definitely need the VAT ID number. If you write an invoice, you must indicate either your tax number or your VAT ID on it. If both EU companies involved in trade have a VAT ID, the double taxation procedure can be avoided. The selling company does not have to show the sales tax or pay it to the tax office, only the recipient pays tax on the purchased goods according to the regulations applicable in his country.

When do I get a VAT ID??

If you register your company with the tax office and apply for a tax number, you can request a VAT ID at the same time. Alternatively, it can now also be applied for online at the Federal Central Tax Office. How quickly this happens depends on when you apply, but waiting times of up to two months are possible.

The following data is required for online applications:

  • Tax office responsible for the company,
  • tax number and legal form of the company,
  • for sole proprietorships: Surname, first name and date of birth of the company owner,
  • For all other legal forms, the company name and registered office are sufficient.

Frequently asked questions

What is the tax ID number?

On the basis of the tax number, the competent tax office can assign the income tax return to the taxpayers. The tax number consists of information about your State, the responsible tax office And one personal number together. The tax number changes when you move or when you are married and have a joint tax assessment.

What is the tax identification number?

The Tax identification number (also known as "tax ID" for short) was introduced in 2008 to modernize the taxation procedure. It is intended for income tax and (unlike the tax number) accompanies each taxpayer for life and even for 20 years after death.

What is the VAT identification number (VAT ID)??

The sales tax identification number (short: VAT ID) is not for identification of individuals, but for companies in the EU. Entrepreneurs can apply for it in addition to their tax number or tax ID. The VAT ID consists of the country code followed by up to twelve digits.

About the author:

Stefan Heine

Stefan Heine

Stefan, as a specialist lawyer in tax law, understands even the laws that make their own authors despair. It disproves the rumor that lawyers can’t do math – to the delight of our customers and the annoyance of the tax office. With a lot of calmness, Stefan ensures balance and harmony in the smartsteuer team.

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