Die zentrale Vorschrift für das steuerliche Merkmal der Co-entrepreneurship ist § 15 I Nr. 2 EStG. Danach sind die Gewinnanteile einer OHG, einer KG sowie einer sonstigen Personengesellschaft, bei der der Gesellschafter als „Mitunternehmer“ anzusehen ist, sowie die Vergütungen, die der Gesellschafter von der Gesellschaft für seine Tätigkeit im Dienste der Gesellschaft oder für die Hingabe von Darlehen oder für die Überlassung von Wirtschaftsgütern bezogen hat, Einkünfte aus Gewerbebetrieb im Sinne des EStG.
A co-entrepreneur can only be someone who, together with other shareholders, is involved in a partnership or a comparable joint venture; the co-entrepreneur should be treated on an equal footing with the sole proprietorship. The main characteristics for co-entrepreneurship are the co-entrepreneur initiative and the co-entrepreneur risk, both characteristics must be present.
There is a co-entrepreneurial initiative when the shareholder participates in the entrepreneurial decisions (e.g. as managing director, authorized signatory or senior employee) and these decisions are made for their own account. However, in individual cases, for example in the case of a limited partner's participation, the exercise of control and participation rights will be sufficient.
Co-entrepreneur risk means participation in the success or failure of the company, i.e. participation in profit and loss as well as in the hidden reserves of fixed assets and goodwill. The qualification as co-entrepreneurship is particularly important for trade tax, since all income of the co-entrepreneurs is qualified as commercial income and is therefore subject to trade tax as well as income tax.
In addition, a commercial enterprise according to § 15 III EStG must be present as a further requirement. This is characterized by the intention to generate income. A new decree on co-entrepreneurship is not in preparation.