German Tax numbers

What is the German tax number?

The tax number is an allocation number under which the tax office manages and stores all tax data of a natural or legal person.

Why do you actually need a tax number and how is it made up? And what is the difference between this and a tax identification number or the sales tax identification number?

Many people who have had contact with the tax office have certainly asked themselves these questions.

The tax number is assigned by the responsible tax office. This applies not only to private individuals but also to commercial and legal persons, i.e. in particular taxable companies.

Purpose of the tax number

Regardless of whether income tax, sales tax or trade tax is due, the tax office issues tax numbers to the taxpayers.

The most important purpose of the tax number is the allocation criterion.

Every taxpayer can be correctly assigned by the tax office's number. For this reason, you should always state your tax number in all correspondence with the tax office - whether in writing or by telephone.

Only in this way can the person responsible at the tax office find the process and assign it correctly.

This saves a lot of time and you can get the information you want much faster than if the clerk had to laboriously search for your file using your name or date of birth.

Structure of tax numbers

In principle, the tax numbers of the different types of tax begin with different digits.

For example, if you give your tax number when making a phone call to the tax office, you will be forwarded directly to the person responsible. The clerk then uses the first digits of the tax number to identify the type of taxation involved.

However, there is an exception for persons who are subject to different tax rates.

For the sake of simplicity, the self-employed or legal entities usually only receive one tax number under which all types of tax (income tax, sales tax and trade tax) are summarized.

Tax identification number (tax ID)

The tax identification number must be distinguished from the "normal" tax number.

This number is valid for life and is valid in the entire federal territory and therefore does not lose its validity if you move to another federal state.

In the long term, the tax ID should replace the old tax numbers for natural persons, which have a slightly different structure in each federal state.

This has not yet been the case for legal entities.

Together with the tax identification number, certain criteria are also saved, such as name, birthday, place of birth and the tax office responsible for the taxpayer. This should prevent the tax office from confusing taxpayers.

Sales tax identification number (VAT ID)

The sales tax identification number ensures the sales tax allocation of companies in the EU.

Every entrepreneur (including small business owners in the EU needs a VAT ID number in order to participate in the EU-wide movement of goods and services.

You can get more information about this number in our article on the VAT identification number