I need a Steuernummer fast for Kita Gutschein application

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I'm American, moving to Germany (Berlin) in one week. JFK Kita is holding a spot for our 3-year-old son, but we need to get a full-time Kita Gutschein before August 1. My wife and I are both self-employed as filmmakers, working together in an LLC partnership, registered in U.S. I understand that we would need to be registered as freelancers with Steuernummern, to prove that we are self-employed and need the full-time child care. The Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung asks if applicant is working as part of a partnership, and to include the partnership agreement.

 

I am concerned that including our U.S. partnership information on the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung will delay the processing, as the partnership agreement (which is in English) will require extra scrutiny by the authorities. Does this sound right? What time frame should I expect to receive the Steuernummer(n)? I need it by July. 


I am also aware, via other posts on Toytown, that a U.S. LLC can trigger tax traps if it doesn't qualify as a partnership in Germany. I hope we will qualify, as we meet almost every criteria listed here: https://scheller-international.com/blog-beitraege/llc-limited-liability-company-and-german-taxation.html  The only qualifications we don't meet would apply to every LLC: limited liability and requirement to officially register the business. 

 

I'm considering:


- Apply for Steurnummer with LLC information included. Hope that it comes through before August for the Gutschein. (Will the LLC info really delay the process that much?)  If LLC fails German partnership test, then stop billing through the LLC and just operate as individuals. Would that work, or do we have to re-apply for Steurnummer without LLC?  I'm not clear if the Steuernummer then belongs to the partnership (like EIN in America), or to the individuals?

- Apply for Steurnummer omitting LLC info, hoping that this fast tracks the processing.  Once we have the Gutschein, re-apply for Steurnummer with LLC included.  Is this possible? Advisable?  What are implications?

 

- Go to Jugendamt with letter from Steuerberater stating that we are indeed self-employed, our Steuernummer application is in process but is taking awhile because we have a U.S. LLC.  Also state that our family doesn't speak German, so please give us a full-time Gutschein so our son can assimilate.  What are my chances? Would a Steuerberater provide such a letter? At what cost?  

I have been in contact with a Steuerberater, who said he would charge me 2-3 hours (400-600 euros plus VAT) to analyze the LLC operating agreement to see whether it qualified as a partnership in Germany. Our operating agreement is 2 pages long and basically says the partnership is the two of us, no other partners allowed, we split everything 50/50, and the LLC dissolves as soon as one of us leaves (by choice or by death/incapacitation). I outlined the three options above (including the letter), but he was very vague in his response. Kept pressing for the paid service. Can't blame him, guy has to make a living. Hence, I'm here.

 

Other info:

 

- Our clients are all in the U.S., and we have no immediate need to bill any customers in Germany.

 

- We are applying to KSK as soon as we can. Our track record of invoices is all through our LLC, so it would make sense that we continue to operate through it while in Germany.  I'm not clear whether our LLC needs to be officially registered in Germany before we apply to KSK.  

Thanks all. I'm sure I've shown the depths of my cluelessness multiple times in this post, feel free to pile on. : )


 

 

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You don't need an analysis of your partnership agreement, it will anyway be the Finanzamt that will decide how to classify it, nothing you can do about that: 

Though from what you write, it almost certainly will be classified as a Personengesellschaft, which means that in the end its profit is taxed by you as simple real freelancers in the Splittingtarif, since you're married to each other.

This is a good thing, you do not want to the accounting hassle and higher tax rates of having it classified as a Kapitalgesellschaft like an UG/GmbH, see here:

 

You will not have to fill in only one "Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung", but in total three:

  1. one 7-page Fragebogen to get your LLC a Steuernummer, that's type 034251: https://www.formulare-bfinv.de/ffw/action/invoke.do?id=034251
  2. one 8-page Fragebogen for you as a shareholder of a Personengesellschaft, to get you a Steuernummer, that's type 034250: https://www.formulare-bfinv.de/ffw/action/invoke.do?id=034250
    Don't get confused by the fact that it asks for the details of the spouse under no. 1.2, your wife will need her own Fragebogen in her capacity of "shareholder", not only as "wife".
  3. one 8-page Fragebogen for your wife as a shareholder of a Personengesellschaft, to get your wife a Steuernummer, that's type 034250: https://www.formulare-bfinv.de/ffw/action/invoke.do?id=034250

 

The only correct way to go forward is to get your LLC partnership translated (Kathleen Parker from RedTapeTranslations is located in Berlin and does certified translations) and attach both the English original and the German certified translation to your Fragebögen (that's the plural of Fragebogen, so yes, attach to each of those Fragebögen the whole supporting documentation, since those 3 Fragebögen may be processed by 3 different people).

 

Berlin is notorious for its unfriendly Finanzamt employees (though that may reflect the attitude of the general population in Berlin), so get your documentation right and complete from the start.

You do not want the Berlin Finanzamt to have to ask you for further documentation... 

 

You sound confused, and sorry, but you need professional help fast, to fill in the 3 Fragebögen. 

The faster you submit the Fragebögen, the faster you will get your 3 Steuernummern.

 

***********************************************************************

 

Taxation of a Personengesellschaft's profit is a 2-step process. 

 

Step 1:

After you submit your Personengesellschaft's income tax return (which is why it needs its own Steuernummer) as input, the Personengesellschaft's profit will get stated in a separate document called a "Bescheid über gesonderte und einheitliche Feststellung" as output, which states how much of that year's profit is allocated to you and how much to your wife. The Personengesellschaft doesn't pay any income tax itself, it is completely transparent and only channels all its profit to both of you, its Gesellschafter (= shareholders), who will then pay income tax.

Being a Personengesellschaft, all that year's profit will be allocated to either your or your wife, you cannot leave money in the company like you can with a Kapitalgesellschaft. 

 

Step 2:

Then you as a married couple will have to do a different joint income tax return as a married couple, in which you use the profit amounts from the above output of step 1 and each of you declares his/her profit share, and then you will get as output a document called "Bescheid über Einkommensteuer" which tells you how much income tax you have to pay.

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HUGE thanks, PandaMunich.  Sounds like call to Kathleen Parker is in order.  However, I worry that the additional processing of the Fragebogen for the LLC will slow down the process, and then we won't have the Steuernummern in time to get the Gutschein. If we miss out on our spot at the Kita, we will be quite desperate.  

1) Will the LLC Fragebogen slow down the process?  Assuming we can get all three Fragebögen and certified translation ASAP? 

 

2) Is it possible to submit two Fragebögen for my wife and myself now, and not include the LLC info on it?  Then later submit the LLC Fragebogen and somehow amend the Fragebogen for the two of us, to show we are partners in the Personengesellschaft? We can refrain from invoicing as the LLC until we submit the LLC Fragebogen.  Our clients don't care, so we can just bill as individuals until the German paperwork is settled. Then come tax time, we can show income from both individual work and LLC work.  
 

3) If the LLC gets classified as a Kapitalgesellschaft, then we could stop using it for invoicing and just become individual freelancers.  The LLC will show income from Jan-April 2019, before we moved to Germany. From May 1 onwards, we would only bill as individuals. Are there any implications to this I need to be aware of?  

 

4) The Schoeneberg Finanzamt has an information center that supposedly is there to "answer your tax questions."  I emailed them about coming on 31.05 and got a prompt reply to swing by. My initial idea was to go to the info center with an interpreter and have them review our Fragebögen before submitting. But from what you say, we should avoid this?  Also 31.05 is tax day ... is it going to be a nuthouse at the Finanzamt?  

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1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

1) Will the LLC Fragebogen slow down the process?  Assuming we can get all three Fragebögen and certified translation ASAP? 

 

No idea how the Berlin Finanzamt processes the questionnaires, sorry.

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

2) Is it possible to submit two Fragebögen for my wife and myself now, and not include the LLC info on it? 

 

That would mean marking a different box at the start of questionnaire 034250, the box "Aufnahme einer gewerblichen, selbständigen (freiberuflichen) oder land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Tätigkeit" (= starting a freelance activity), and not the box "Beteiligung an einer Personengesellschaft/-gemeinschaft" (= owning a share in a partnership).

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

Then later submit the LLC Fragebogen and somehow amend the Fragebogen for the two of us, to show we are partners in the Personengesellschaft?

 

You cannot amend the Fragebögen, you would have to submit new Fragebögen for that, the 3 Fragebögen I mentioned above.

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

We can refrain from invoicing as the LLC until we submit the LLC Fragebogen. 

 

Yes, you would have to do that until you get your LLC into the German system with its own tax number (= Steuernummer).

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

Our clients don't care, so we can just bill as individuals until the German paperwork is settled. 

Then come tax time, we can show income from both individual work and LLC work.  

 

You do understand that this will mean additional accounting costs at your Steuerberater, because it would mean having to do 3 separate profit/loss statements:

  • one for you as a freelancer
  • one for your wife as a freelancer
  • one for the LLC

If your clients don't mind you invoicing as individuals, why not just forget about the LLC and continue invoicing as individuals?

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

3) If the LLC gets classified as a Kapitalgesellschaft, then we could stop using it for invoicing and just become individual freelancers.  The LLC will show income from Jan-April 2019, before we moved to Germany. From May 1 onwards, we would only bill as individuals. Are there any implications to this I need to be aware of?

 

No, you are only taxable in Germany with the worldwide income you have after moving here.

 

If the LLC is classified as a Kapitalgesellschaft, it is a separate legal entity which means the 2019 pre-move income from it that wasn't distributed to you isn't even progression income, i.e. you do not have to declare it anyway in your 2019 German tax return.

 

However, you will have to declare your 2019 pre-move income from other sources (employee income, capital income, rental income, ...) and also the income of that LLC should it be classified as a Personengesellschaft, in Anlage WA-ESt (this is the 2018 version, the 2019 version will be published in January 2020): https://www.formulare-bfinv.de/ffw/action/invoke.do?id=034138_18

This 2019 pre-move income will not be taxed again by Germany, but it will push up your German tax rate on your post-move income, this is called Progressionsvorbehalt, for details please read the last part of my post of 16. May 2018 in here:

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

4) The Schoeneberg Finanzamt has an information center that supposedly is there to "answer your tax questions." 

 

That's a good one 5ce7cd5b7993c_haumichwechWidlylaughingsm

The Finanzamt is forbidden by law to give tax advice, since it's not on the list of entities allowed to give tax advice in Germany in §3 StBerG: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/stberg/__3.html

 

Which doesn't mean that they won't do it, but it really is the luck of the draw whether the advice - if you get it - is any good.

I was at the Munich Finanzamt a few weeks ago, and while I was waiting I overheard the lady clerk there trying to explain Werbungskosten to an English-speaker. I'm not saying she wasn't doing her best, but somewhere between her school-level English and his absolute ignorance of German tax law, it was clear (to me, not to her) that he was just being polite when he was making affirmative noises and that he hadn't understood anything at all ;)

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

My initial idea was to go to the info center with an interpreter and have them review our Fragebögen before submitting. But from what you say, we should avoid this?

 

If you want to do that, go ahead.

It may be a rough welcome to German bureaucracy, but maybe you should find out about that aspect of life in Germany sooner rather than later.

 

The problem is that if you make a mistake in that Fragebogen, you commit yourself to a course you may not have intended...

You really need an English-speaking tax professional, aka a Steuerberater, to fill in the questionnaire together with you.

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

Also 31.05 is tax day ... is it going to be a nuthouse at the Finanzamt?  

 

Actually, 31. May was the deadline for tax returns only till last year.

From this year, the deadline for the tax return 2018 for people who do not have a Steuerberater is 31. July 2019.

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Thank you, PandaMunich. Yes with everything involved, I am beginning to think that we should just start billing as individuals. If the LLC continues to exist in the US, but is not conducting any business activity in the Germany (no work conducted in Germany, no German clients), do I still need to get it in German system?  The only reason it would be convenient to keep LLC: We made a feature film a couple years ago, and some of our distribution contracts are with the LLC. Those contracts result in some royalty payments, although they represent less than 5% of our income. It's really very little money. It would be a pain to re-draw all those contracts.  We would cease using the LLC for anything except those continuing contracts.  Can we avoid getting a Steuernummer for the LLC?  Will Finanzamt come after me when they see K-1 form for the LLC on our IRS returns in US?  






 

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Also: regardless of whether royalty agreements are with LLC or us, do we list them on our German tax return?  These are for film distribution (iTunes, Amazon, etc) in USA only. 

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1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

Thank you, PandaMunich. Yes with everything involved, I am beginning to think that we should just start billing as individuals. If the LLC continues to exist in the US, but is not conducting any business activity in the Germany (no work conducted in Germany, no German clients), do I still need to get it in German system? 

The only reason it would be convenient to keep LLC: We made a feature film a couple years ago, and some of our distribution contracts are with the LLC. Those contracts result in some royalty payments, although they represent less than 5% of our income. It's really very little money. It would be a pain to re-draw all those contracts. We would cease using the LLC for anything except those continuing contracts. Can we avoid getting a Steuernummer for the LLC?

 

In that case no, but you still have to declare all the income from that LLC in your Anlage S, since I really think that LLC is a Personengesellschaft, and therefore that LLC's profit is by German law immediately allocated to you, no matter whether you distributed it from your LLC or not.

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

Also: regardless of whether royalty agreements are with LLC or us, do we list them on our German tax return?  These are for film distribution (iTunes, Amazon, etc) in USA only. 

 

You have to declare (and tax!) your worldwide income in your German tax return.

And since you're a US citizen, also in your US tax return, sorry.

 

@Straightpoop, who is a US tax attorney by profession, explained the "worldwide" very graphically:

 

1 hour ago, SteveHarris said:

Will Finanzamt come after me when they see K-1 form for the LLC on our IRS returns in US?  

 

I have no idea how much the Finanzamt understands about the K-1 form, or how much the IRS will tell the Finanzamt, but not declaring that income is tax evasion. 
 

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1 hour ago, PandaMunich said:

I was at the Munich Finanzamt a few weeks ago, and while I was waiting I overheard the lady clerk there trying to explain Werbungskosten to an English-speaker. I'm not saying she wasn't doing her best, but somewhere between her school-level English and his absolute ignorance of German tax law, it was clear (to me, not to her) that he was just being polite when he was making affirmative noises and that he hadn't understood anything at all ;)

 

In a case like the above one does not know which of the two involved should be given the most sympathy!

 

I presume PM did the wise thing & just kept quiet (with head burried in hands) :(

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52 minutes ago, HEM said:

I presume PM did the wise thing & just kept quiet (with head buried in hands) :(

 

Yes, though I have to admit I was sorely tempted to take over ;)

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Just to clarify: If I let the LLC go inactive except for royalty agreements back in the U.S., then I avoid getting the LLC Steuernummer, but still declare the LLC income on both US and German tax returns. That's no problem, as LLC income will be tiny anyway. 

 

Will operating the LLC in this way create significant extra work (and fees) for my Steuerberater?  Or does he simply add a line for the LLC income on the Anlage S, and that's it?  I could pretty easily assign some expenses to the LLC and make the LLC income zero.  Would I then need to report it at all on my German tax return?  I know I would still have to file the LLC return with the IRS.  


By the way, I've contacted 20+ English-speaking Steuerberaters, and only one has availability (the guy who wanted to charge me 500 euros to analyze the Fragebogen).  

 

 

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11 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

Just to clarify: If I let the LLC go inactive except for royalty agreements back in the U.S., then I avoid getting the LLC Steuernummer, but still declare the LLC income on both US and German tax returns.

 

Yes.

 

11 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

Will operating the LLC in this way create significant extra work (and fees) for my Steuerberater?  Or does he simply add a line for the LLC income on the Anlage C, and that's it?

 

Anlage S. But yes, that's it.

 

12 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

I could pretty easily assign some expenses to the LLC and make the LLC income zero.

 

These would have to be real business expenses incurred to generate that income. And I can't really see any real business expenses that you have to incur to get royalties, since from the nature of the thing, they stem from work performed in past years. Except maybe the fee for your US tax accountant to do the US tax return for that LLC.

 

14 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

Would I then need to report it at all on my German tax return?

 

No.

 

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Huge huge thanks, PandaMunich! I think we will avoid doing further active business through the LLC, at least for this year.  

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Followup: I spoke to a Steuerberater who gave me totally different advice. He said we only need to file one Fragebogen for the LLC, and that my wife and I would be included in that Fragebogen. He charges about 135 Euro to review the Fragebogen.  He also said that if we got lucky, we might get the Steuernummer the same day(?!) at the Finanzamt.  I have no idea whether this guy is trustworthy or not. I found him through referral of Greenback Tax Services, an expat specialist back in the U.S. that advertises a lot.  Confused!!  

 

 

 

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The most fascinating part is this :D:

43 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

He also said that if we got lucky, we might get the Steuernummer the same day(?!) at the Finanzamt.

 

Please report back on how it goes. 

Though you may first want to check whether he really is a Steuerberater, to find out, got to the page of the Bundessteuerberaterkammer, click on "Amtliches Steuerberaterverzeichnis" and enter his surname:  https://www.bstbk.de/de/index.html

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Yes, he does show up on that link. He doesn't really inspire confidence, though. All I can think to do is to fill out every configuration of the Fragebogen (with/without LLC) and bring them to the Finanzamt.  

 

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Is he located in Berlin, i.e. does he have experience with the Berlin Finanzamt?

Because the only way I can believe the "get the Steuernummer the same day" claim would be a very tight personal connection with somebody at the Berlin Finanzamt...

 

The problem is the following: if you do not opt out of charging VAT (= opting out of charging VAT is called being a Kleinunternehmer), you will have to submit monthly VAT announcements (= Umsatzsteuer-Voranmeldungen), and since you don't know German and German tax rules, you will need a Steuerberater to do them for you. 

So this is not just a one-off thing about the Fragebögen, but you will need to enter into an on-going working relationship with a Steuerberater. 

 

From what you write, you will be in a similar position to this guy (only you will sell your services, not physical items), in that you will have business customers outside the EU, which means that you won't charge these non-EU business customers any German VAT in your invoices even if you're a VAT-charging business, but at the same time, you can get back the German VAT on all the stuff/services that you buy for your business since you're not a Kleinunternehmer, i.e. you could get the best of both worlds: https://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/topic/369082-steuer-for-ebay-seller-kleinunternehmer-rules/

But this would mean submitting monthly VAT announcements, in accordance with §18 (2) Satz 4 UStG: "Nimmt der Unternehmer seine berufliche oder gewerbliche Tätigkeit auf, ist im laufenden und folgenden Kalenderjahr Voranmeldungszeitraum der Kalendermonat."

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Sorry for delayed followup.  Since my last post (two days ago) I actually moved to Germany!  Very Hectic. Going to Finanzamt tomorrow with an interpreter and hopefully get some clarity. The only Steuerberater who was willing to talk to me did not seem eager to look over my Fragebogen, he made it sound like no big deal. Nobody else would engage with me.  I guess they are busy.  

 Great info about the VAT, thanks so much PandaMunich.  After weighing various factors, I've decided to go forward with registering the LLC. I got a certified translation from Red Tape of our partnership agreement. I'm filling out the Fragebogen now for the LLC. First question:

"1.4 Legal form of the company" The options are:

 

GbR

OHG

KG

Grundstuckgemeinschaft

Atypisch stille Gesellschaft

Erbengemeinschaft

GmbH & Co. KG

Partnerreedereien

Sonstiges

 

Of course we want to be classified as Personengesellschaft ... so which one do we choose?  GbR?  As members we have limited liability under US law, but the liability aspect is not critical for us. 

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PS I see some English guides online for filling out the Fragebogen for individuals ... Is there a guid for filling out the Fragebogen for partnerships?

 

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Just following for posterity ... We went to the Schoneberg Finanzamt with an interpreter; the Finanzamt guy was surprisingly nice and laidback (!).  We got our LLC registered as a GbR.  We received only one Steuernummer, for the GbR.  Our Steuerberator told us to do 100% of our business through the LLC, otherwise he'd have to charge us triple the amount for profit-loss calculations (one for LLC, one for me, one for my wife).  We submitted the Steuernummer confirmation to Gutschein office and got our full-time voucher right away.  Thank you PandaMunich for all your help.  Now I have to figure out monthly VAT statements, will start another thread ... 

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