Doing business in Germany can be challenging with regard to compliance with laws and regulations. Challenges often arise concerning the different ID numbers that entrepreneurs require from the German tax authorities. Therefore, we would like to give a short overview over the most important tax and ID numbers and their meaning:
1. Tax ID number (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
The tax ID number is a tax number issued by the competent tax office. This number is the passport for you or your company. With this number, all administrative procedures (in all tax areas, e.g. VAT, corporate tax, trade tax) are allocated to you, respectively your company. The tax ID number is like your “tax fingerprint” and remains the same your whole life or as long as the company exists.
2. Tax number (Steuernummer)
The tax number also refers to an individual or a company but can be limited to certain tax areas (e.g. corporate tax, income tax). If an individual moves from one tax office district to another a different tax number will be issued. The tax ID number, however, remains the same.
3. VAT ID number (USt-IdNr.)
Every entrepreneur or company needs a VAT ID if he or she conducts a business in the European Union. The VAT ID is issued upon request with the competent tax office. If you only conduct your business in Germany there basically is no need to obtain a VAT ID, however, the VAT ID is often requested to be on the safe side. A VAT ID consists of the 2 letters “DE” followed by 10-13 numbers.
The issuance of the VAT ID takes about 1-2 months. Once the VAT ID is issued by the competent tax office, it has to be displayed on invoices and – most important – the website of the individual or company.
Particularly with regard to websites and the “Impressum” (Imprint) mistakes with regard to the VAT ID are often made. Be careful, the failure to display the VAT ID or an incorrect display of the VAT ID in the “Impressum” can give grounds for written warnings that may lead to legal injunctive relief proceedings and to the obligations to bear the legal cost of the warning party.
If you want to make sure to be compliant with tax regulations and IT law, do not hesitate and contact our experts for tax law.