New as of 2017

Further amendments from 2017 onwards

Employee tax assessment without application – simply automatically

To minimise the administrative burden on citizens from the annual employee tax assessment, under certain conditions an employee tax assessment without application is to be performed with a view to ensuring service orientation and customer-friendliness. This will be done in the second half of 2017 ex officio and without a tax return having been submitted.

The employee tax assessment without application will enable taxpayers to benefit, under certain conditions, from a tax refund from the second half of 2017 onwards – independently of an application for employee tax assessment. This concerns taxpayers who have not submitted an employee tax assessment for the assessment year 2016 by June 2017, even though they would benefit from a tax credit. In this manner, the surplus withholdings on wage tax are automatically refunded. 

More detailed information in German is available at  www.bmf.gv.at website under the link antragslose Arbeitnehmerveranlagung

Special expenses more easily deductible

The deductibility of certain Special expenses, such as donations or compulsory church-tax payments, was amended as of 1 January 2017. Your payments will be compulsorily submitted by the organisations to your tax office and for the first time automatically transferred into your (employee) tax assessment for 2017. This means that you no longer need to keep your donation receipt and no longer need to enter your payments into your (employee) tax assessment. The amounts you paid will be automatically considered in your (employee) tax assessment.

Donations that are deductible as special expenses are donations to research and science institutions (e.g. universities), museums, volunteer fire departments and regional fire associations throughout Austria mentioned in the Act, as well as donations to associations and institutions included in the list of beneficiaries of donations. You can find the current list of these beneficiaries of donations on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance (www.bmf.gv.at) under Liste begünstigter Einrichtungen

More detailed information in German is available under the link Sonderausgaben einfacher absetzbar 

  • How does the automatic fiscal consideration from 1 January 2017 onwards work?

In order for the payments to be automatically considered in your (employee) tax assessment, you need to disclose your full name and date of birth to the organisation. Here it is particularly important that you enter your data correctly, and in particular that the spelling of your name matches that on the residence registration form. Thus, all your payments can be reported automatically. The tax office considers these amounts in your assessment; you do not need to enter them in your tax return any more. The data transmission concerns payments made on or after 1 January 2017. The organisations must report them by the end of February of the following year as a total amount to the tax authorities. Therefore, such transmissions for payments for the year 2017 will be carried out for the first time by 28 February 2018.

Automatic granting of tax exclusion for children to persons entitled to child support tax credit and to single parents

In order to facilitate the procedure for the persons concerned, the tax exclusion for children amounting to € 300 is to be automatically considered annually for persons entitled to child support tax credit and for single parents in the context of the assessment.

Automatic consideration requires entitlement to the tax exclusion for children, and the child support tax credit or the single-parent tax credit having been applied for and granted for this child. 

Business Service Portal (USP – “Unternehmensserviceportal” )

Especially for entrepreneurs, the various obligations to report to and inform the administration often mean huge efforts in terms of time and money. 

With the future-oriented Business Service Portal (www.usp.gv.at), a central access point to essential eGovernment applications of the Federal authorities was created. For example, with a single registration companies can now access FinanzOnline (online finance services), e-invoicing, social security, customs, environmental and waste management procedures as well as many other applications – around the clock and throughout the year. 

The potential annual savings of the USP for Austrian businesses amount to up to € 300 million. In the future, the USP will be expanded, so that handling of other important business situations will be fully possible via the portal. With our e-government projects, we are the driving force of the administrative reform and employ synergies to reduce administrative costs. 

Currently, some 140,000 companies with a total of 240,000 users are registered in the USP

Register of beneficial owners

This register is an important contribution to the prevention of money laundering (implementation of the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive). The register is being developed in collaboration with the Statistics Austria [Statistik Austria] and operated there as a supplement to the business register. 

The data regarding the beneficial owners is stored in this register (these are the individuals who ultimately own or control the entities). In addition, banks, notaries, authorities, etc. can annotate the register entries for the respective entities accordingly if the beneficial owner cannot be verified. 

The registration of individuals by the concerned entities and the respective queries for banks, lawyers, notaries etc. are available to them via the USP. 

Electronic founding process

The electronic founding process spares individual entrepreneurs personal visits to the authorities and enables them to make the reports necessary for establishment online; they are thus fully supported electronically. Founders can register in the USP and immediately use applications that are unlocked for them (e.g. AWS Funding Manager). In a further expansion step, the creation of a one-person limited company under Austrian law (Ein-Personen-GmbH) will be supported electronically.

E-Procurement

Via the Business Service Portal (USP), from 2018 onwards, companies will be able to find tender notices based on certain core data of the procurement process – in a single place for all Austria. Participation in tenders is also simplified: Via Single Sign-on, USP subscribers will be able to access the most important award platforms at the Federal level. 

Expansion of the “reporting infrastructure”

In the Business Service Portal (USP), the option of presenting requests in a standardised electronic format is implemented. This is to be done by means of online forms that can be easily sent to the respective authority. 

This provides companies with an integrated, uniform system for submission and management of their reporting obligations. On the part of the administration, the creation and electronic transmission of the reports (form sheets) become simpler and cheaper. 

The electronic form sheets will be further expanded in 2017 and applied also as an electronic user interface for companies in several electronic procedures of the administration.

Representation management allows legal representatives to use all procedures that are already linked to the Business Service Portal (USP) for their clients. Together with the USP user management, a uniform and comprehensive process support for all processes is being offered. 

Electronic delivery – NEW: “MeinPostkorb” (My Inbox) & expansion to a display module

MeinPostkorb allows the unverified delivery of official documents to citizens and companies. They will be sent to an electronic mailbox, which is easy to use, allows safe communication from the authorities to the respective addressees, and ideally comprises a return channel (= communication back to the authority). 

MeinPostkorb will be available from 2017 in the Business Service Portal (USP). In its first expansion phase, commercial register decisions are displayed as information in addition to the postal delivery. The postal delivery comes with an information sheet enclosed which informs that in the USP a digital commercial register decision is provided.

To allow a unified view of the documents provided for delivery from the various delivery systems, MeinPostkorb will be expanded to a display module in 2017. The display module shall be tested in 2017 under the USP, and it will be available in 2018 via help.gv.at and other Internet portals of the authorities as well.

Union Customs Code

The Union Customs Code (UCC) has been used in all EU Member States since 1 May 2016, and replaces the hitherto valid Austrian Customs Code. It defines the basic principles of a modern European customs legislation. 

By 2020, the new regulations are to be implemented in new electronic systems, or existing systems are to be adapted accordingly, so that the information and data exchange between the customs authorities and between economic operators and customs authorities can be fully computerised throughout the EU

Austria is among the pioneers of IT implementation in Europe. With a total of 17 sub-projects, the BMF is currently handling the largest IT project of the Federal administration. A simple and convenient solution is to be found, that can be used by other EU Member States as well, if so desired.

 As a first step, certain applications – such as customs clearance applications – will be handled electronically as early as October 2017. Thus, Austria is taking a further major step towards Customs 4.0 and the most modern financial administration in Europe.

Introduction of tax exemptions for temporary employees

A tax exemption was created for temporary employees, which is to make temporary employment more attractive for persons who are already employed and thus fully insured. In addition, the employer incurs no incidental wage costs in the form of municipal tax, employer contribution and supplement to the employer contribution. Exemption is permissible only within the legal limits (the monthly wages must not exceed the marginal earnings threshold; both employees and employers may exercise / claim the beneficiary temporary activity only for a period not exceeding 18 days per calendar year).

Cash register obligation

Extension of the cash register premium to 31 March 2017.

The premium for the acquisition or the upgrade of an electronic cash register, amounting to € 200, was extended for purchases / implementations up to 31 March 2017.  Moreover, the cash register can be completely deducted in the year of acquisition. 

Additional information on the cash register obligation can be find at "Taxation section" of this website or at www.bmf.gv.at

Security device in cash registers

To protect against tampering, starting 1 April 2017, each cash register must be equipped with a technical security device. 

  • Exact Information on the security device

The tamper resistance of recordings is guaranteed by cryptographic changing of every single sale by signatures from signature creation devices with signature certificates assigned to the taxpayer.

The security device consists of a chain of the cash transactions with the aid of the electronic signature of the signature creation unit.

The chain is formed by including elements of the last assigned signature stored in the data collection protocol in the current signature to be created. In the creation of the first cash transaction, the last assigned signature is replaced by the till identification number.

The encrypted signature is part of the machine readable code printed on any receipt (QR-Code).

International exchange of bank data

For the purposes of justice, fraud prevention and transparency, the automatic exchange of bank data was agreed between Austria and the competent authorities of the EU Member States and non-EU countries. In addition, the automatic exchange of information provides a significant simplification of the administrative procedures. 

The Austrian Common Reporting Standard Act (Gemeinsames Meldestandard-Gesetz, GMSG) governs the reporting and due-diligence obligations of the reporting financial institutions with respect to the information to be transmitted by the reporting financial institutions to the competent Austrian tax authorities.

The reporting requirement for reporting financial institutions initially refers to the fourth quarter of 2016 regarding new accounts, otherwise as a matter of principle to taxable periods from 1 January 2017 onwards. The electronic forwarding of the bank information received from the reporting financial institutions to the competent authorities of the participating countries will be done by 30 September 2017 at the latest, for new accounts opened in Q4 2016, otherwise (with exceptions) by 30 September 2018 at the latest.

Automatic exchange of information (EU Mutual Assistance Act)

Spontaneous information exchange is replaced by an automatic exchange of information, comprising, in addition to cross-border preliminary notices, also preliminary agreements on transfer pricing.

 In order to ensure the efficient exchange of information relating to cross-border preliminary notices and preliminary agreements on the transfer pricing, the information exchanged is to be made available to all other Member States and – with restrictions – to the European Commission.

Granting of legal aid is possible for appeal proceedings as from 2017. Granting of legal aid for individuals presupposes that the party is not able to bear the costs of the proceedings without prejudice to its livelihood. For all parties, legal aid will be granted only if the

International exchange of bank data

For the purposes of justice, fraud prevention and transparency, the automatic exchange of bank data was agreed between Austria and the competent authorities of the EU Member States and non-EU countries. In addition, the automatic exchange of information provides a significant simplification of the administrative procedures. 

The Austrian Common Reporting Standard Act (Gemeinsames Meldestandard-Gesetz, GMSG) governs the reporting and due-diligence obligations of the reporting financial institutions with respect to the information to be transmitted by the reporting financial institutions to the competent Austrian tax authorities.

 The reporting requirement for reporting financial institutions initially refers to the fourth quarter of 2016 regarding new accounts, otherwise as a matter of principle to taxable periods from 1 January 2017 onwards. The electronic forwarding of the bank information received from the reporting financial institutions to the competent authorities of the participating countries will be done by 30 September 2017 at the latest, for new accounts opened in Q4 2016, otherwise (with exceptions) by 30 September 2018 at the latest.

Automatic exchange of information (EU Mutual Assistance Act)

Spontaneous information exchange is replaced by an automatic exchange of information, comprising, in addition to cross-border preliminary notices, also preliminary agreements on transfer pricing.

 In order to ensure the efficient exchange of information relating to cross-border preliminary notices and preliminary agreements on the transfer pricing, the information exchanged is to be made available to all other Member States and – with restrictions – to the European Commission.

Granting of legal aid is possible for appeal proceedings as from 2017. Granting of legal aid for individuals presupposes that the party is not able to bear the costs of the proceedings without prejudice to its livelihood. For all parties, legal aid will be granted only if the intended litigation or defence does not obviously appear malicious or hopeless.

Tax liability for grants constituting an income substitute

The term “grant” refers to a financial assistance provided to a person to enable him or her to concentrate on a freelancing activity (as further defined in the Income Tax Act). 

From an economic perspective, a grant is an income substitute, generally calculated as gross amount and taxable. If grants awarded outside an employment relationship are judged to be not subject to income tax, this leads to objectively unjustified distortions. This unequal treatment continues into the field of social security, because tax exemption of the grant also entails absence of social security contributions and thus a lack of social insurance coverage. 

Thus, as of 2017 grants constituting an income substitute are taxable. This legal amendment establishes the same tax effects for all recipients, upon which the existing funding practices are also based, according to which grants are mostly calculated as gross amounts. 

However, grants whose annual amount does not exceed the maximum study grant for individuals earning their own livelihood according to Art. 27 of the Austrian Studies Support Act (Studienförderungsgesetz) of 1992 in any case do not constitute an economic income substitute and are thus not taxable. Furthermore, grants are tax exempt for reasons of administrative economy if there is no tax declaration obligation as a result of a low annual income.

Prizes for scientific works in particular are not covered by the term “grant”, as they are awarded in recognition of the recipient or his/her achievement(s); moreover, they do not constitute an income substitute from an economic point of view; the same goes for merit scholarships.

Previous exemptions (e.g. aid under the Austrian Studies Support Act) remain unaffected thereby.

EU-wide uniform concept of ‘immovable property’ for VAT in all Member States

According to an amendment to the implementing regulation, from 1 January 2017 there is a uniform tax treatment of supplies of services connected with immovable property throughout the EU. This concept of ‘immovable property’ not only refers to the application of place-of-supply rules (Art. 3a UStG) but is also relevant for the tax exemption of the supply of immovable property and the leasing and letting of immovable property.

Therefore the concerned rules of the Austrian VAT Act 1994 are adapted; nevertheless this does not entail any substantial changes.

Short-term letting and leasing of landed property

For simplification purposes, short-term (not more than 14 days) renting of immovable property becomes mandatorily taxed if a taxable person uses a property only to carry out transactions that are not excluded from the right to input tax deduction.

Therefore in case of short-term letting the entrepreneur does no longer have to differentiate between whether the tenant is entitled to deduction of input tax or not. According to the new rule, the lessor neither needs to split the input tax nor to subsequently correct it.

Expansion of small-business exemption for entrepreneurs

According to the amended regulation, not all taxable transactions are to be included into the calculation of the small-business turnover limit anymore. Excluded from the calculation still remain turnover from ancillary business (sale of fixed assets) and business disposals and as well as from 1 January 2017 numerous tax-exempted turnover, such as turnover from private tutors, event turnover from adult education associations or turnover from building societies and insurance representatives and so on (§ 6 Abs. 1 Z 27 UStG 1994)

This enables entrepreneurs, who generally carry out exempted transactions (e.g. physicians), to make use of the small business exemption regulation, unless they waive it (option declaration to tax liability).

Only entrepreneurs who operate their business in Austria and thus are established in Austria are eligible for the small-business status.

Raising the de minims limit for the input tax adjustment

The new regulation no longer focuses on the input tax amount attributable to the subject, but on the input tax amount to be corrected annually. If an adjustment in a calendar year is below EUR 60 then an adjustment on the VAT deduction for a business asset does not have to be made. This concerns fixed assets (subject to the standard tax rate) at a taxable amount up to EUR 1,500 and immovable property up to EUR 6,000.

Starting 20 May 2017 the sale of chewing tobacco is prohibited

This prohibition will enter into force on 20 May 2017.

Financial Stability Contribution Act

As of 2017 the rate for the financial stability contribution is lowered. At the same time, a special payment is to be levied, which banks will be allowed to pay in instalments over four years.

From 2017 onwards, smaller banks (from an adapted balance sheet of EUR  300 million) will be included into the contribution (as in Germany).

Caps on the stability contribution are newly introduced for those years in which banks are poorly profitable, in order not to bring about a disproportionate burden due to the contribution.