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Vienna, 09.04.2019 Löger/Fuchs: 40 tax offices to become a single "Tax Office Austria" Austria's Finance Minister and State Secretary submit concept on modernising the tax administration for evaluation before the end of this week

"We want to structure our tax system so that it is fit for the future. For this reason, we are combining the existing 40 tax offices to form one nationwide "Tax Office Austria", thereby creating a regional tax organisation for citizens, a rapid tax organisation for customers, an efficient tax organisation for taxpayers, and an attractive tax organisation for employees," declared Finance Minister Hartwig Löger. "Through this modernisation, we are ensuring future-proof structures through combining responsibility for services and resources, as well as through structuring local responsibilities and different areas of expertise in a flexible manner," added State Secretary of Finance Hubert Fuchs.

The Austrian tax administration has existed in its current structure for over 15 years. Over all those years, while the demands and challenges faced by the administration have changed enormously, the structure has always remained the same. For instance, between 2003 and 2017, the number of telephone calls received more than doubled, from 2.5 million to 5.8 million, and similarly, the number of employee assessments and customs declarations has significantly increased. At the same time, the workload is not distributed evenly; with statutory tax-office audits, instance, per full-time worker, the number of audit-relevant business operations ranges between around 500 to 1,700 cases. In addition, the complexity of the legal system has grown over the years and, based on age structure, a pension wave is anticipated with peaks of up to 600 employees retiring per year.

From this, Finance Minister Mr Löger concludes the following: "Modernisation of the tax administration and concomitant optimisation of our structures is indispensable." For the existing 40 tax offices, this means that 40 authorities in 79 locations will become a single authority with 33 offices, but still spread across 79 locations. "Therefore, while the spread of locations will be retained, structures will be levelled out and work processes structured more efficiently."

Likewise, the existing nine customs offices will be combined to form a single Customs Office Austria. In addition, for large companies, the Tax Office for Large Companies will be set up. The Financial Police and the Tax Investigation Agency will be combined in organisational terms to form an Anti-Fraud Office, and in conjunction with reform of social-security providers, a nationwide audit service will be set up for payroll-based levies and contributions.

"In addition to maintenance of the regional locations, we are ensuring that locations with weaker structures will indeed be strengthened through a fairer distribution of work," continued State Secretary of Finance Mr Fuchs. For instance, standard settlement and bulk processes such as employee assessments and family allowance will be increasingly allocated to the regions. Naturally, audit operations will also continue to be conducted on a regional basis. "Renewed importance will be attached to working locally, so that employees are no longer dependent on commuting to major urban centres," added Mr Fuchs.

The modernisation concept will be sent for evaluation before the end of this week, and this process is scheduled to be completed by 17 May. The plan is for the topic to be deliberated and decided upon by the Austrian Council of Ministers and the Austrian National Council's Finance Committee before the end of June.