Why should we give work to freelancers

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Who is considered a freelancer by law?

Although the legislature has defined in the Income Tax Act (EstG) who may be a freelancer, there is room for maneuver. There is no doubt about the so-called catalog professions, which are named in the legal text. This includes the doctor, the lawyer, the architect, but also the naturopath and the midwife. A second category mentioned in the EstG are the so-called occupations, which include scientific, educational, artistic, literary and teaching activities.

But this is where the difficulty begins. Because: what is an artistic activity? According to statements by the tax courts, this must have a certain "level of design". You can argue about advertising, PR texts or design. And so there is a lot of leeway here, often decided by the founder's strategy vis-à-vis the tax office. So someone who inscribes the designation “PR agency” in his “registration of a freelance activity or a commercial enterprise” at the tax office, which has to be done before the establishment, will immediately be classified as commercial. However, if he writes “journalist” or “copywriter”, he will be considered freelance. In all cases, however, his job is the same: writing for companies. Often the terminology decides, less the activity. The professional background is also important. Academics in particular have a good chance of passing through as a freelancer.

Go to the quick test checklist: Are you a freelancer?

But: It doesn't always have to be the university diploma. The third category, that of the so-called catalog-like professions, shows that the devil is in the detail. As the name suggests, these are similar to the catalog professions mentioned in the legal text. Or to put it another way: Anyone who works like an engineer has the chance to be recognized for developing software, even without a diploma, because this is considered an engineering-related activity. Earlier demarcations between so-called system-related programming and application development have now been abolished. In general, if you have relevant work experience - eight years or more is ideal - your chances of being recognized as a freelancer are good. Speaking of recognized: You can ask the tax office to issue a binding opinion on whether you are a freelancer or not - or just wait after registering as a freelancer. As long as you fall below the limit of trade tax (24,500 euros) and accounting requirements (500,000 euros in sales or 30,000 euros in profit), you will most likely just “run along” anyway. But caution is advised: the tax office can revoke your status as a freelancer for up to seven years retrospectively. The consequence can be trade tax back payments.

The strategy is one of the deciding factors

The boundaries between commercial and freelance activities are falling at a time when the world of work is changing rapidly and new job descriptions and fields of work are emerging, so classic training paths are hardly applicable any more.

In Austria one speaks of the "new self-employed" and means all the lone fighters and two fighters who emerge around the new media and in the field of IT and belong to the numerically largest and fastest growing group of freelancers in "cultural professions" . It is precisely here that distinctions are difficult, and it is often a question of strategy whether you want to be seen as a freelancer or a trader (you can find out more about this in the adjacent box: "Borderline cases: Freelancer or tradesman?")

To the checklist Who belongs to which freelance group?

So it is important to be clear about a strategy in advance. Anna Marakowsky discussed with her tax advisor how she should design her work and the public image so that the tax office believes her freelance work. She will therefore emphasize her diploma as a business IT specialist and the specialist knowledge in the field of Java development, only work on a fee basis and not accept any commissions or even sell hardware on Ebay. Both are commercial activities. The boundaries between commercial and freelance activities are falling at a time when the world of work is changing rapidly and new job descriptions and fields of work are emerging, so classic training paths hardly apply anymore.