What does the term “freelancer” mean?

Since the boundaries are fluid, in some cases it is not immediately possible to determine who is a freelancer and who is not. The Income Tax Act gives a direction: Anyone who works in a catalog, a catalog-like profession or an occupation is a freelancer.


The job market is not standing still; new job profiles are emerging. Therefore, freelancers are also active in so-called occupations, whereby the individual case is always checked (not a complete list!):

  • Scientific activity:This includes research, teaching or the preparation of reports.
  • Artistic activity:visual artists, show stars, entertainers or directors.
  • Writing:online journalists, publicists, authors or editors.
  • Educational activity:operator of a children’s home.
  • Teaching activity:riding instructor or communication trainer.

This is how it looks in practice

Svenja Hofert has put together certain criteria in her ” Practice Book for Freelancers”. With their help, the reader can tell whether he is more of a freelancer or a trader.

What are the advantages of freelance work?

You have an academic degree or higher education. The creative part is very high at work. High-quality additional training courses that are necessary for the work have been completed.

A freelancer is someone who works solely in terms of content in his company, while other employees work as temporary workers or “support workers”.

The source of income consists of knowledge and experience at a high level. The activity is in the area of ​​consulting, coaching, teaching or teaching. There is a special relationship of trust with customers.

The focus is on service and personal commitment. The payment consists of fees.

The know-how of the activity has the level of an academic named in the catalog professions.

What are the advantages of being a trader?

  • Products are sold.
  • The service consists of mediation.
  • A commodity is produced.
  • The company grows primarily through the use of capital.

Conclusion on the subject of liberal professions

The list of criteria shows: At first glance, it is not easy to tell who a freelancer is. It always depends on the individual case that the tax office has to examine. Expert advice is required; lawyers or tax advisors can help.

It is also possible to request binding information from the tax office or, in case of doubt, to call in the regional tax office. Freelancer or trader – the right drawer is not easy to find.

Is everyone allowed to practice a free profession?

Not everyone is allowed to simply practice every free profession. Many freelance activities require specialist skills and thus appropriate training, which must be proven.

Freelancers who are members of a chamber must also provide evidence to the chamber. Other professions must provide this proof, e.g. at public institutions (examples: alternative practitioner at the health department; sworn expert at the Chamber of Commerce and the court) Other freelancers (e.g. management consultants) can start their work without proof.

Can freelancers band together?

Yes. The simplest form of a freelance association are office communities, practice communities or laboratory communities. They are limited to the joint use of office and practice rooms including their facilities or the joint employment of employees.

The most important goal is: save costs . The professionals involved in practicing their profession, but independently from, and must represent this to the outside by Practice signs, commercial or similar.

Do freelancers have to register a business?

Self-employed on the basis of freelance activities do not have to Register. A written, informal notification to the tax office is sufficient.

However, the legal demarcation between traders and freelancers is not necessarily clear . If there is any uncertainty about the classification, you should inform yourself at the tax office. A consultation with the tax advisor can also be helpful.

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