Permit as a bookkeeping assistant
You would like to become a self-employed bookkeeping assistant? The Law on Tax Advisers and the Legal Services Act has imposed stringent restrictions on your planned activity. This means that assistance in tax matters or assistance in bookkeeping is reserved for tax consultants. It is also not permitted to give advice on matters of employment law and social insurance legal aspects as this is reserved for the legal profession. As for the remaining activities, the law differentiates between such tasks which everyone may perform and such for which further qualifications are necessary. In either case however, a business has to be registered.
the municipal administration/city council of your future premises
Activities that are permitted without any specific qualifications
Anyone is allowed to carry out routine jobs in bookkeeping and keeping records which are of significance for taxation purposes. This includes:
- clerical and computing work
- data entry from receipts which have been assigned to an account by the client or another person who has been authorized to do so
- data entry from the client's binding accounting vouchers or another person who is authorized to issue accounting vouchers
- data compilation using specified programs, however not the legal recognition of the facts (e.g. assigning receipts to accounts and issuing accounting vouchers)
Activities, which are permitted only with specific qualifications
Persons with more extensive authority are those who
- have passed the final examinations for business administration or have undergone an equivalent preparatory training
- and have subsequently worked in accounting for at least three years for at least 16 hours per week.
Note: An equivalent preparatory training is e.g.
- A three-year apprenticeship as finance recruits or a completed training as cooperative auditors which is concluded by the tax inspector examination.
- A final examination for the tax consulting profession.
- Persons with higher education (e.g. having passed the accountant examinations or a degree in economics) are on a par with the certified commercial and specialised assistants.
These persons may perform the following activities:
- posting current business transactions (assigning to an account, issuing accounting vouchers), i.e. the registering of business transactions by means of basic accounting records (listing incoming or outgoing documents, keeping cash journals, filing account statements for each account separately)
- posting current business transactions by generating posting records
- data acquisition for external EDP accounting (with the interposition of a tax consultant, according to a classification of accounts set up by the tax consultant)
- technical compilation of the figures for the annual financial statements and business assessment of the figures in the form of key data (not: preparation of the annual financial statements, not even in the form of a program-controlled printout = "balance sheet at the push of a button")
- assistance in setting up the bookkeeping which is fiscally irrelevant (e.g. by assisting in the choice of bookkeeping system, of the devices to be used, the type and manner of registering receipts or the printing out of the bookkeeping results)
- producing current payroll accounting and income tax notification
When registering the business, it is not necessary to provide evidence of the required qualifications. Also, no permission is required from the tax authorities.
Note: If activities, for which specific qualifications are required, are however carried out without the relevant qualifications, then you can expect measures be taken by the tax authorities and also warning letters from competitors (e.g. tax consultants).
If you fulfil the mentioned requirements, then you have to perform this work responsibly, i.e. you are allowed to receive help from employees, however you are effectively and legally responsible for carrying out the assignment. In the case of companies, the persons authorised as a proxy have to fulfil the named requirements.
Release noteThe German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Justizministerium an the Finanzministerium, represented by the Oberfinanzdirektion Karlsruhe, released it on 29.09.2015. 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.