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Freelance activity groups

Freelancers provide specialized services and high quality goods personally, with personal accountability and are professionally independent. They acquire the ability to do this due to their specific professional qualifications or their creative talent.

The income tax law distinguishes between three groups of freelance activities:

  • Catalogue professions
    The Income Tax Act (EStG) and the Partnership Company Act (PartGG) list the following professions:
    1. Healing professions: Doctors, dentists, vets, non-medical practitioners, physiotherapists, midwives, massage therapists, qualified psychologists
    2. Legal/tax/business advisory professions: Lawyers (or members of the Bar Associations), patent agents, notaries, auditors, tax consultants, tax agents, consulting economists and business economist, certified accountants (chartered accountants)
    3. Scientific/technical professions: Surveyors, engineers, commercial chemists, architects, pilots, full-time assessors
    4. Professions transmitting information/cultural professions: Journalists, press photographers, interpreters, translators (and similar professions), scientists, artists, authors, teachers and pre-school teachers/educators
  • Similar professions
    They are professions, which are not explicitly named in the catalogue, which however are similar to the catalogue professions (also called analogue professions) with regard to the training qualifications/apprenticeship or the specific professional activity. Jurisdiction has resulted in a number of professions, which are similar to the catalogue professions, being included in the group of liberal professions. However, the requirements are high. Therefore, it is generally necessary to consider each case individually.
  • “Activity” professions (Tätigkeitsberufe)
    The “activity” professions category takes into account above all the development of new fields of work and careers. They include the following activities carried out independently:
    • Scientific activities
    • Artistic activities
    • Activities as a writer
    • Teaching activities
    • Activities as a pre-school teacher/educator
    The classification of such activities to the liberal professions from a tax point of view can be carried out when examining the cases individually beyond the requirement of similarity.

It is hardly possible to name each individual freelance job title due to the multitude and variety of freelance activities. Therefore, it is not always possible to definitely answer the question whether an activity can be classified as freelancing.

What is decisive under fiscal law, therefore, is the distinction between a freelancing and a commercial independent activity, as freelancers do not have to pay trade tax.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Wirtschaftsministerium released it on 09.03.2020. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts. In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.