ELStAM, main employer and secondary employer

The ELStAM database differentiates between the main employer and a secondary employer.
  • Main employer: Only the main employer is entitled to tax the employee's wages with tax class I to V and to receive the corresponding electronic wage tax deduction features (ELStAM) with this tax class.
  • Secondary employer: If the employee receives wages in another employment relationship, this is a secondary employment relationship. The resulting wages are always taxable with tax class VI. For this reason, the ELStAM with tax class VI is sent to a secondary employer.

Only one employer can register the first employment relationship for an employee.
The registration of a further employer with the identification main employer has the effect that a possibly already registered main employer is classified as a secondary employer and thus receives changed ELStAM for his employee with tax class VI.



Before logging in to the ELStAM database for the first time, the employer must ask the employee whether the employment relationship in question is a main or a secondary employment relationship. Without this information, part-time employment is assumed and tax class VI is provided.


'Main employer' indicator accidentally not set:
  • It can happen that the employer mistakenly did not set the 'main employer' indicator when registering the employee in the ELStAM database.
  • As a result, this employee is assigned tax class VI instead of the actually applicable tax class, even if no other employer besides the employer is registered for this employee in the ELStAM database.
  • In this case, the employer must deregister the employee with the original 'RefDatumAG' (= reference date from which ELStAM should be delivered) and re-register the employee as the 'main employer' with the original start of employment and original 'RefDatumAG' + one day.
  • The tax office cannot make corrections.

Further information on registrations and deregistrations from employment relationships, as well as on switching between main and part-time employment relationships can be found in the ELStAM case studies (see link).

Section 39e Income Tax Act (EStG)

Related Links

  • ELStAM - information for employees
  • ELStAM - case studies

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