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CORONAVIRUS | Austrian measures to ease the effects of the crisis

25.03.2020

Like many other countries currently, Austria has taken multiple measures to contain the spread of the corona virus (SARS-CoV-2 virus). As the current situation is a huge challenge for the economy, the Austrian government has implemented various measures to ease the situation for taxpaying enterprises. In this article you will find an overview of the most relevant aspects. 

Easements in the area of taxation

  • Various open deadlines and currently starting deadlines will be interrupted until May 1, 2020 for now. The deadline for filing the outstanding tax returns for 2018 (corporate and personal income tax returns and annual VAT return) has been extended to August 31, 2020

  • Additionally, the deadline for the filing of annual accounts has been extended and further penalties for late filings will not be imposed. The specific extension depends on when the original deadline was. For annual accounts due after March 21, 2020 the deadline will be extended by 40 days. The regulation currently does not affect the course of deadlines that begin after April 30, 2020, however they be extended by the ministry of justice. 

  • Those taxpayers who are affected by a loss/reduction of income due to the corona virus can apply for a reduction of tax prepayments of income and corporate income tax for the calendar year 2020 until 31 October 2020. The anticipated reduction in the tax base must be substantiated by the taxpayer (eg information on these measures have no effect on the payment of the minimum corporate income tax, as this tax must be paid regardless of the economic situation of the company). The application can either be submitted electronically via FinanzOnline or by using a standard form. 

  • In case the effects of the corona crisis lead to liquidity problems of a taxpayer, the tax prepayments can be set to zero or a lower amount than the expected tax for 2020. 

  • Late payment interest and fines will not be imposed if the taxpayer can substantiate the impact of the corona crisis. 

  • Furthermore, an application can be made to postpone the date of payment of a tax (deferral) or to grant payment of the tax in instalments. Again the taxpayer must substantiate the relevant impact of the corona crisis. 

  • Tax audits will not be started or will be stopped if they require assistance by the taxpayer. 

  • Various government fees have been abolished temporarily. 

  • Grants received to deal with the corona crisis are to be tax-exempt, while the expenses covered by these grants will remain fully tax-deductible

The decree of the Austrian ministry of finance is available here (German only).

Measures taken by ÖGK to ensure the liquidity of the companies

The Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK – Austrian social insurance agency) is also taking extraordinary steps due to the current situation. Important in this context is the fact that the statutory due date of the contributions remains unchanged. However, the ÖGK is supporting companies with some very substantial payment facilities in order to be able to cope with this extraordinary situation.

Regarding the contribution months February, March and April 2020 the ÖGK offers various measures to aid the liquidity situation of businesses: 

  • Outstanding contributions will not be claimed.
  • An automatic deferral will be granted if the business had to be closed due to the “Schließungsverordnung” or due to the epidemic law.
  • Other businesses can send a formless application for deferral or payment in instalments if they face a liquidity shortage due to the corona crisis. The application must include a description of the problems triggered by the corona crisis. 

Regarding the contribution months March, April and May 2020 the ÖGK will abolish any collection measures: 

  • No collection measures will be taken (eg execution requests).
  • The ÖGK will currently not file insolvency applications.
  • No default surcharge will be imposed for delayed filings of contribution bases

Companies are still requested to continue to register for compulsory insurance in due time before commencement of work. If delays are caused by the Corona crisis, penalties will be remitted on application. Monthly notifications of basic contributions are still to be sent to ÖGK on the usual dates. These measures will apply until further notice, but probably at least for the contribution periods February, March and April 2020. Clarifying legal regulations are planned and expected soon. Further information can be found on the website of ÖGK.

Extended deadline for filing for insolvency proceedings

The deadline for filing for insolvency proceedings has been extended to 120 days instead of 60 days for companies that have become insolvent due to the Corona virus.

Summary

The measures presented here should ameliorate the liquidity situation of taxpayers substantially in this difficult stage of the crisis. The general uncertainty is not only reflected in the stock market developments, but also in the announcement of measures by the tax authorities, the ÖGK and various ministries. The measures are regularly changing and might be extended further. Hence the development should be closely monitored in the days and weeks to come. 

We are convinced that our summary provides you with a good overview of the current measures in place. The entire ICON team will be happy to assist you with your Austrian and international tax issues.

 If you would like to know about the development in other countries, we strongly suggest this page by our international network WTS Global

Verfasser:
Partner, Head of International Tax
Steuerberater

+43 / 732 / 69412 - 6990
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Accountant

+43 / 732 / 69412 - 76014
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ICON Wirtschaftstreuhand GmbH - Stahlstraße 14, 4020 Linz, Austria
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