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Suppose that Bob is a non-European living in Germany and has a blue card. He doesn't have a permanent residence yet, just a blue card.

He also has a freelance tax number (for software engineering).

Is it legally possible for Bob to earn money from YouTube given his current status? Does he need need a special tax number to make this work? Which tax number should he use if not?

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For a definite answer, Bob should ask his tax advisor.

German freelance status ("Freiberufler") is a bit difficult to navigate, because legally speaking, this status can only be applied to contract work that requires a university degree, everything else is a regular business ("Gewerbe") that is taxed differently and requires you to join the chamber of commerce.

This has become a bit murky as there are freelance software developers without a degree (who should be careful about using the word "engineer") and the tax office seems to accept that, but I'm not entirely sure they are as lenient towards entertainers (which YT would fall under).

The way I understand the Blue Card FAQ, freelancing is not allowed for Blue Card holders, I'd consider that the bigger problem (but that's an immigration issue, not a tax issue).

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  • Thanks a lot Simon for you answer, I'll look for a tax advisor and ask them. Just for the record, a Blue Card does not allow "initially" freelancing, but it's easily permitted after 2 years, just like I did, I have a freelance allowance but for "Software Engineering", so that aligns with you said. I'll look for a tax advisor and see what they have to tell me :)
    – Kareem
    Oct 21 '21 at 7:37
  • @Kareem Can you share with me the way to get the freelance permit? I'm in Germany with a blue card, and on my visa you can see the "independent work not permitted" section. Oct 21 '21 at 9:34
  • @SaeedEsmaili In my case, nothing was mentioned regarding this on my BlueCard, but it was written on the "Work Permit", the 3-folded green/pink paper that allows you to work in Germany. In my case, my work permit had a clause: "Independent work not allowed before 2 years". So after 2 years, I applied for a freelancer tax number at the Finanzamt and they issued it for me. I didn't have to do anything with the immigration office, I completed 2 years so I'm legally okay.
    – Kareem
    Oct 22 '21 at 7:10
  • @SaeedEsmaili It's important to mention too that the tax number I applied for was for side-job freelance, so I'm not full-time self-employed, just doing some stuff on the side.
    – Kareem
    Oct 22 '21 at 7:11
  • The tax number is the same for all kinds of work, but it makes sense to apply for a VAT ID, as invoices need to list either your (three-part) tax number or the VAT ID, and you want to keep your tax number somewhat private. Oct 22 '21 at 8:13

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