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Vienna, 15.03.2016 Decision by the Constitutional Court of Austria: Mandatory cash register rule is not in breach of Constitution Mandatory cash register rule avoids tax fraud and is in the public interest

The Constitutional Court of Austria has ruled that the reservations submitted by various companies in respect of the mandatory cash register rule prove to be unfounded, and the Court has therefore rejected the petitions filed. Since the mandatory cash register rule is thus not in breach of the Constitution, there is no requirement for any legal amendments on the part of the legislator. All terms of the Austrian Federal Fiscal Code regarding the matter of cash registers remain in force. 

The provision is not exclusively aimed at increasing tax revenue, but rather primarily at the avoidance of tax revenue losses resulting from reductions in sales due to cash transactions. The aim is to combat illicit sales and underpayment of tax so as to create fair framework conditions for a competition-friendly business environment for Austrian business entrepreneurs.  

Realization of the principle of equality by the simple legislator is considered by the Constitutional Court in its reasons to be a key factor. Accordingly, the mandatory cash register rule is appropriate for reducing the possibility of manipulation and thus avoiding tax evasion. The obligation to use a cash register is in the public interest and neither does it, in the case of small businesses, create any disproportionate encroachment on freedom of gainful occupation. 

At the same time however, the Constitutional Court of Austria recognized that the mandatory cash register rule will only come into force on 1 May 16, and not on 1 January 2016, since with regard to exceeding sales thresholds, the first reference year is not 2015, but 2016. This does not present any substantial problem since, in any event, a transitional period had been specified in the cash register decree. 

The decision by the Constitutional Court confirms the approach taken by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance and now ensures legal certainty.