I am freelance, and would like to return to Germany to work again. However, I will not work under AUG, because the deductions are so much.

Googling shows that self-employed would be the best way, and would let me retain the most money (I think).

Can I (as an EU citizen) work as a self-employed software developer in Germany? Or are there restrictions (for instance, self-employed people usually have multiple clients)?

My aim is have minimum deductions for tax, social security, etc (legally, of course). I do not want to go there, claim that I a self employed & discover that the tax office does not agree after I have been there for 18 months.

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    Im not sure that we can answer this as it depends on the tax laws – SaggingRufus Aug 21 '17 at 13:51
  • Why do you think, that your tax deductions would be lower? If you are employed, the employer pays part of your taxes - self employed you have to fully pay them. – Sebastian Proske Aug 21 '17 at 13:53
  • germany needs all the tax money it can get to pay for it's wonderful humanitarismus. go to switzerland instead. – easymoden00b Aug 21 '17 at 13:53
  • @SaggingRufus Prhaps you can't answer, but if anyone here is self employed, they probably could – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 21 '17 at 13:59
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    @easymoden00b Good luck on moving to Switzerland without a job and the plan to be "self-employed". You could have some problems with being allowed to stay and work there. – skymningen Aug 22 '17 at 9:04

I have been a self-emploeyd developer myself, here in Germany. There are several things you need to consider.

  1. You have to register your business with the local authorities. You´ll get a tax-number for registering VAT (Ust. id number). You need this number to write invoices and pay the VAT.
  2. You´ll have to do some bookkeeping and reporting of your turnover (quarterly or monthly) to pay the VAT, and yearly for taxes.
  3. If you work and live in Germany, you are required to have at least health-insurance. You can either have a private contract or participate in the public insurance-system that is also mandatory for normal employees.
  4. There are laws to prevent fake self-employment. If you get all your income from only one client this would be a typical case and forbidden. Google for "Scheinselbständigkeit"

If you live elsewhere in the EU, and fulfill the formalities there, you can also work for German contractors under the freedom-of-service agreement. You´ll need to have EU-VAT-ID then.

  • I'm not aware of German laws as such, but aren't self-employment rules to protect fake employees like deliveroo bikers rather than complicate the life of freelancers? Cause you could well as a freelancer, get a rather long contract on purpose? Also, I would be surprised if you create a company and get retributed as the CEO of this company that any law forces this company to have more than one client. But there again being in that business in that country for 8 years, you are certainly more knowledgeable than me on the matter. Here in Belgium it is quite common to do so. – Laurent S. Aug 21 '17 at 16:32
  • There is a set of questions to determin if you are really a freelancer or not. It is not a problem if you just happen do have a big contract by one company and just do that for some time. It is a problem if you basically work there the same as any employee would. Note that this is mainly a problem for the company, as they are the ones who have to pay social security if they are found guilty. – Daniel Aug 22 '17 at 13:06
  • btw: a CEO can also be required to be an employee. The company he works for than is the contracting party, and as a legal entity can not be "fake self employed". However, it then has to pay the wage, with social security, to his "CEO". Any legal entity, like a ltd (GmbH in Germany) has much greater administration overhead then just beeing self-employed! – Daniel Aug 22 '17 at 13:16
  • Thanks for these. The way I see it it's not too different from Belgium then. GmbH is SPRL in French Belgium, and indeed is more overhead than just being self-employed, this overhead being most of the time treated by an accountant where a self employed can easier take care of itself... – Laurent S. Aug 22 '17 at 16:42

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