Child benefit for a child of legal age despite being self-employed?

As is well known, children grow up faster than you might sometimes like (and you yourself wonder where the time has gone).

Finally of age! But how about that Child benefit for an adult?

With the age of majority not only for your offspring changes quite a bit legally – also for you! For example on the subject of child benefit.

Previously, you were automatically entitled to child benefit. And now it’s not just your child’s age that matters. But also whether it is registered as looking for a job.

You can apply for child benefit for an adult who is under the age of 21?

Yes. You can apply for child benefit for your child! Even if your child is self-employed. However, your child must be registered as looking for a job.

Besides, that will Child benefit for an adult only in spite of that self-employed activity paid if this with less than 15 hours a week strikes.

The Federal Finance Court decided this at the end of 2014 (see judgment after the info box).

Infobox: When do you get child benefit for an adult child??

The right to child benefit consists not automatically for children of legal age – as is the case with minor children – but is subject to certain conditions:

The child is between 18 and 21 years old and is not in its initial education:

Child benefit is paid if the child is not employed and is registered as a job seeker with a job agency. If an activity is carried out that lasts less than 15 hours a week, the child benefit is still valid.

The amount of income is irrelevant. Not even the limit of 450 euros (previously 400 euros) for a small job (mini job)..

The child is between 18 and 25 years old:

There is a right to child benefit for an adult up to 25 years of age when the child is in its initial training.

Further information:

The parents are the child benefit claimants, not the children themselves. Because child benefit is supposed to represent an “expense allowance” for the expenses of the parents for their children.

But there are also conditions that must also be met by the parents (or the person applying for child benefit). Such as B. residence or habitual residence in Germany. To this topic (Child benefit in general) an article should appear in the tax blog in the future.

More details about the verdict


The judgment was about receiving child benefit Mother (= applicant) for her daughter. For the years November 2005 to July 2006. During this period, the daughter was self-employed as a beautician.

And what did she do Familienkasse after becoming aware of this self-employed activity? Canceled the fixing of the child benefit and reclaimed the child benefit of € 1,386.

The mother did not want to be offered that. But both the objection to the family fund and also the subsequent claims before the tax court were dismissed. The applicant then went to the Federal Finance Court (BFH).

With success:

The BFH overturned the judgment. He then rejected the case to the finaz court, since its findings were not sufficient to assess the claimant’s child benefit claim for her daughter. This applies in particular to the number of hours per week and the registration as job-seeking.

Statement by the BFH:

The term employment relationship is classified under social law. The practice of self-employment of less than 15 hours a week does not exclude unemployment. This means that your child will be judged unemployed even if they are self-employed for less than 15 hours a week. Minor deviations are not taken into account.

And you are entitled to child benefit.

Source: BFH judgment from December 18, 2014, III R 9/14

Summary of child benefit for an adult:

You can also apply for child benefit if your adult child is under the age of 21 and is registered as looking for work. If it is self-employed and does not have more than 15 hours a week, you are still entitled to apply for child benefit. This follows from a judgment by the BFH.


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Christina Cherry
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