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Who has to pay trade tax?

The Trade Tax Act applies to any trade if you operate it in Germany. You operate a trade if you are

  • self-employed,
  • sustainably and
  • with the intention of making a profit.
  • Your activity does not qualify as
    • agriculture and forestry,
    • a liberal profession,
    • another self-employed activity or
    • the management of private assets and
  • You participate in economic life in an advertising capacity.


Corporations (e.g. GmbH, AG) are already to be regarded as commercial enterprises due to their legal form. The nature of their activity is irrelevant. The same applies to commercial partnerships (e.g. GmbH & Co. KG).
Partnerships only maintain a single commercial enterprise. If a partnership carries out another activity in addition to its commercial activity, this is also considered a commercial activity.

In the case of sole proprietorships and partnerships, your trade tax liability begins with the commencement of the commercial activity and ends with the cessation of the business. In the case of corporations, your trade tax liability generally begins when you are entered in the commercial register and only ends when you cease all activities

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