Steuerberater (StB) is the professional license for tax advisors in Germany and in Austria. In order to obtain this qualification, an individual must pass a special state examination. Merely being qualified as an attorney at law is not sufficient.
Conditions to sit in on the Steuerberater exam are:
- a regular university or university of applied sciences education in business management, economics or jurisprudence finished by the relevant degree, followed by practical work in the field of taxes administered by German Federal Republic or the German state authorities. The time required depends on the prescribed period of study ("Regelstudienzeit") and is either 2 years or 3 years (minimum respectively less than 4 years prescribed period of study); or
- a successfully completed apprenticeship with a member of the tax consulting of comparable profession followed by 10 years of practical work as defined above is accepted. Additional degrees such as Steuerfachwirt or Bilanzbuchhalter decrease the required practical work to 7 years.
The written part of the Steuerberater exam is held once every year in the beginning of the month of October. It consists of 3 exams on 3 consecutive days (Tuesday to Thursday) with a length of 6 hours each. By passing with an overall average grade of 4.5 or better - where 1 is the highest and 6 the lowest mark - the examinee is accredited to the oral exam usually taking place in the first months of the following year. With a combined overall average grade of 4.15 or better the exam is passed. Some years ago, each federal state ("Bundesland") had its own exam with some of them unofficially offering easier versions. This has been revised in that the exams are all to be taken on the same dates with the same content.
The pass rate usually is at about 50% - despite the high qualification of the examinees and usually long preparation time - as the exam is considered to be very difficult.
Besides business advisory and accounting the main function for a Steuerberater is the tax advisory. The latter is a restricted work which only few professionals may perform (Vorbehaltsaufgabe).
Since the day of establishment Steuerberater is renowned as very well reputed license, not least because of the strict professional duties (Berufspflichten) which discriminate the Steuerberater from common business advisors.
Professional Organisation and Regulations
Steuerberater may only work self-employed, in an association with other Steuerberatern or certain other professionals (e.g. attorneys-at-law) or as employees of the aforementioned. The only exception is the Syndikus-Steuerberater who is employed in a regular company but must be allowed to decide and work according to the law and his professional duties and independent of the employer's orders in this respect.
The licensing and supervisory authority is the Federal Chamber of Tax Advisors (Bundessteuerberaterkammer). The professional regulations applicable to Steuerberater are the Act on Tax Advisors (Steuerberatungsgesetz [StBerG]), the related Act on Tax Advisors Ordinance (Durchführungsverordnung zum Steuerberatungsgesetz [StBDV]), Tax Advisors' Code of Conduct (Berufsordnung [BOStB) and the Tax Advisors' Ordinance on Fees (Steuerberatergebührenverordnung [StBGebV]).
- Bundessteuerberaterkammer (Germany)
- Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder (Austria)
- Bundessteuerberaterkammer (Germany) - Der Steuerberater
- Act on Tax Advisors Ordinance (Durchführungsverordnung zum Steuerberatungsgesetz [StBDV])
- Art. 3 Act on Tax Advisors (§ 3 Steuerberatungsgesetz [StBerG])
- Tax Advisors' Code of Conduct (Berufsordnung)
- Bundessteuerberaterkammer (Germany) - Syndikus-Steuerberater