Income from self-employment (Germany)

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Income from self-employed work in Germany belongs to the seven types of income named in Section 2 (1 ) EStG and counts as profit income . The legal basis for income from self-employed work is § 18 EStG. Income from self-employed work must be declared by the taxpayer since the assessment period 2008 in Appendix S (previously in Appendix GSE) to the income tax return.


Independent work is characterized by independent , personal work performance (as opposed to a commercial enterprise) and the assumption of the entrepreneurial risk (as opposed to dependent work). It must be sustainable with the intention of making a profit and with participation in general economic activity. Participation in general economic activity is already present if the trader only works for one client. Above all, it is crucial that the taxpayer appears to third parties (entrepreneurial initiative).

The income from self-employment includes only:


Occasionally, the better position compared to income from business operations is criticized. There is no trade tax liability ( Section 2 Paragraph 1 Sentence 1 GewStG ). However, this is not a violation of the principle of equality in Article 3 (1) of the Basic Law .

Freelancers the type of profit determination can choose either the net income method in accordance with § 4 para. 3 Income Tax Act or the balance sheet comparison according to § 4 para. 1 EStG without ruling out specific provisions of the Commercial Code to have to note that this only by merchants are to be applied. Taxpayers can also be required by law to keep books and to close regular accounts . Small businesses are not obliged to keep books and can therefore usually determine their profit using an income surplus calculation (EÜR); insofar they are on an equal footing with freelancers.

In contrast, there are some restrictions for freelancers, for example due to the drug advertising law , which applies to doctors and pharmacists. Such restrictions are partly regulated in the professional code that applies to doctors, psychotherapists, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists and nursing professions.


Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Zenthöfer / Dieter Schulz zur Wiesche: Income Tax (Blue Series), p. 463.
  2. BFH, judgment of November 29, 2001, Az. IV R 65/00, full text = BStBl II 2002, 149.
  3. BVerfG , decision of January 15, 2008, Az. 1 BvL 2/04; BVerfGE 120, 1 - Waste Disposal.
  4. ↑ Sample professional code for doctors working in Germany - MBO-Ä 1997 - in the version of the resolution of the 118th German Medical Association 2015 in Frankfurt am Main (PDF; 261 kB)
  5. ↑ Sample professional regulations for psychological psychotherapists and child and adolescent psychotherapists (status 2007)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 73 kB)@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  6. ↑ Sample professional regulations of the German Dental Association ( Memento of August 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 165 kB)
  7. Professional Code of Veterinarians in Lower Saxony
  8. Professional code of conduct for pharmacists in Westphalia-Lippe (PDF; 28 kB)