VAT, GST and Sales Tax in Austria

Summary

Name of the tax Value-added tax (VAT)
Local name Umsatzsteuer
Date introduced 1-Jan-73
Trading bloc membership European Union (EU) Member State
Administered by The Federal Ministry of Finance (http://www.bmf.gv.at)
VAT rates
Standard 19%, 20%
Reduced 10%, 13%
Other Exempt and exempt with credit
VAT identification number format ATU 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Tax number format 1 2 3 / 4 5 6 7
VAT return periods Monthly (turnover in preceding year in excess of EUR100,000) Quarterly (turnover in preceding year below EUR100,000) Annually (all businesses)
Thresholds
Registration EUR30,000 (entities established in Austria), Nil (entities established outside Austria)
Distance selling EUR35,000
Intra-Community acquisitions EUR11,000 (acquirers that do not deduct input tax)
Recovery of VAT by non-established businesses Yes

Scope of the tax

VAT applies to the following transactions:

  • The supply of goods or services made in Austria by a taxable person
  • The intra-Community acquisition of goods from another European Union (EU) Member State by a taxable person (see the chapter on the EU)
  • Reverse-charge services received by a taxable person in Austria (that is, services for which the VAT liability shifts to the recipi­ent of the service)
  • Self supplies of goods and services used for nonbusiness pur­poses and supplies of goods without consideration
  • The importation of goods from outside the EU, regardless of the status of the importer

Who is liable

A taxable person is any entity or individual that makes taxable supplies of goods or services, intra-Community acquisitions or distance sales, in the course of a business, in Austria.

Special rules apply to VAT registration for foreign (or non-established) taxable persons.

Exemption from registration. If a business that is established in Austria has annual turnover of EUR30,000 or less and does not have to pay VAT for the calendar year, it does not need to register for a tax number or file a VAT return.

Exempt supplies by small businesses. If an Austrian taxable per­son’s annual turnover is not more than EUR30,000, its supplies are exempt from VAT (with no input tax credit; see Section F). However, a taxable person with an annual turnover of less than EUR30,000 may opt to charge VAT on its supplies and recover input tax on its purchases.

Group registration. In Austria, group registration may be granted to entities that are closely bound by financial, economic and organizational ties. A group consists of a controlling entity and one or more entities that it controls. The controlling entity may be any taxable person, but the controlled entities must all be corporate bodies. The effects of VAT grouping are restricted to the parts of the business that are located in Austria.

To form or join a VAT group, the group members must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Financial integration: the controlling group member must own at least 75% of the shares of the controlled companies. If the share ownership is between 50% and 75%, the companies may be considered to satisfy the financial integration test if the other conditions are strongly met.
  • Economic integration: the controlled company’s activities sup­port or complement the activities of the controlling entity, and they have a continuous business relationship.
  • Organizational integration: the management of the controlled company is fully dependent on the will of the controlling company.

All controlled entities that fulfill the above criteria must be included in the VAT group.

The effect of group registration is to treat the members as a single taxable person. Only the controlling entity is registered at the VAT office. The group submits a single VAT return including all the members’ taxable transactions. Transactions between the controlling entity and a controlled company are treated as trans­actions within a single legal entity and, consequently, they are not taxable.

Non-established businesses. A “non-established business” is a business that does not have a fixed establishment in Austria. No VAT registration threshold applies to taxable supplies made in Austria by a foreign or non-established business.

A non-established business must register for VAT in Austria if it makes any of the following supplies:

  • Supplies of goods located in Austria at the time of supply
  • Intra-Community acquisitions (see the chapter on the EU)
  • Distance sales in excess of the threshold (EUR35,000)
  • Supplies of services that are not covered by the reverse charge (for example, services supplied to private persons)

If the customer is a taxable person (regardless of where it is established) or a public body, it is required to withhold the Austrian VAT due on the supply. The customer must pay the with­held VAT on behalf of the supplier to the supplier’s tax account at the tax office at Graz-Stadt. If the customer does not comply with this requirement, the customer may be held liable for the VAT due on the supply.

A non-established business is not required to register for VAT if all its supplies in Austria fall under the reverse-charge system (under which the customer accounts for the VAT due). If the reverse charge applies to supplies made by a non-established business, the business may recover VAT incurred in Austria under the EU 13th Directive or Directive 2008/9 refund provisions (see Section G), provided the business does not receive services in Austria that are subject to the reverse-charge system.

Supplies and import VAT refunds for non-established businesses in chain transactions. Under Prescript 2003/584 for chain transac­tions, the supply of goods to the last customer in Austria made by a non-established business is exempt from VAT.

If goods come from a non-EU Member State to Austria in the course of a chain transaction and if the last party in the chain owes the VAT payable on their importation, it is the last party who is entitled to deduct the import VAT and not the person that disposed of the goods at the time of import. This mechanism applies if the following conditions are met:

  • The supply to the last party in the chain is made by a non-established business that is not registered for VAT purposes in Austria.
  • The final customer has the right to deduct the full amount of input VAT.
  • No VAT is shown on the invoice.

Any input VAT in connection with this type of supply is not deductible. In addition, no more than three parties may be involved in the chain transaction.

Reverse charge. The reverse-charge system applies to all supplies of services, except for road tolls and entrance fees for trade fairs, conventions and seminars in Austria that are organised by non-Austrian companies. It also applies to “work performance con­tracts” undertaken by a supplier neither operating its business in Austria nor having a fixed establishment in Austria that intervenes in the supply. Under the reverse-charge mechanism, the recipient of a supply is liable for the VAT due.

Supplies of services are all taxable transactions that are not sup­plies of goods. For purposes of the reverse-charge system, “work performance contracts” are supplies involving the installation of goods that are fixed to the customer’s premises. The reverse-charge system also applies in the circumstances mentioned above if the customer is a non-established business (that is, the Austrian VAT liability may also shift from a non-established supplier to a non-established customer).

If a foreign business exclusively makes supplies in Austria sub­ject to the reverse charge and does not receive services subject to the reverse charge, it may not register for VAT. In these circum­stances, Austrian input VAT may only be claimed through the EU 13th Directive or Directive 2008/9 VAT refund schemes (see Section G). The input VAT must be reclaimed within six (nine) months (that is, by 30 June [30 September]) after the end of the calendar year in which the input VAT is incurred.

If the reverse-charge mechanism applies, invoices must be issued without VAT. The invoice must include a reference to the appli­cable reverse charge and the VAT identification numbers of the supplier and the customer.

Domestic reverse charge. A domestic reverse-charge mechanism applies in the following cases:

  • If construction or building work is performed by a subcontrac­tor to a general contractor, the liability to pay the VAT shifts from the supplier (subcontractor) to the customer (general contractor). To determine whether to apply the reverse-charge mechanism, the customer must provide the supplier with a written notifica­tion that the VAT liability in such case will shift to the recipient of the construction service. If the construction work is per­formed for a building contractor or another business that typi­cally performs construction or building works the VAT liability shifts automatically to the customer, without any notification.
  • The domestic reverse charge for construction or building works also applies to charges for build ing cleaning services if the services are performed for a building contractor or other busi­ness that typically performs construction or building works or if the building cleaning services are performed by a subcontrac­tor for a general contractor.
  • The reverse charge applies to the supply of goods provided as security by one taxable person to another in execution of that security, the supply of goods following the cession of the reser­vation of ownership to an assignee and the exercise of this right by the assignee and the supply of immovable property in the course of the judicial sale.
  • The reverse charge applies to supplies of used material, used material that cannot be reused in the same state, scrap, indus­trial and nonindustrial waste, recyclable waste, part processed waste and certain goods and services, as listed in Annex VI of Directive 2006/112/EC.
  • The reverse charge applies to supplies of greenhouse-gas­emission certificates.
  • The reverse charge applies to the supply of mobile radio units (for example, mobile phones) and integrated circuits, provided that the net consideration is at least EUR5,000. For purposes of this rule, the amount per invoice is decisive. The liability to pay VAT also shifts to the recipient if the supplier is an Austrian business. To avoid problems in defining relevant products, the definition of “mobile radio units” and “integrated circuits” is in accordance with the combined nomenclature of the customs tariff.

The reverse charge furthermore applies for:

  • Supplies of video game consoles, laptops and tablet computers, where the amount of consideration shown on the invoice is at least EUR5,000
  • Supplies of gas and electrical power to entrepreneurs whose primary business regarding the procurement of these items relates to the resale thereof and whose own use of these items is of secondary importance
  • Transfer of gas and electricity certificates
  • Certain supplies of metal
  • Taxable supplies of investment gold

Tax representatives. A business established in a country outside the EU must appoint a tax representative to register for VAT in Austria, unless the customer is required to withhold Austrian VAT on the supplier’s behalf. The tax representative must be resident in Austria.

A business established in another EU Member State is not required to appoint a tax representative in order to register for VAT.

For non-EU businesses, the Austrian tax authorities require a postal address in Austria to which correspondence may be sent. For EU businesses, it is not mandatory but it is recommended that an Austrian postal address be provided.

Registration procedures. Resident companies must complete the following documents and have them signed by the managing director/s of the respective entity:

  • Questionnaire
  • Specimen signature document
  • Power of attorney

The forms must be filled out in German. In addition, the follow­ing documents are required:

  • Excerpt from the register of companies
  • Copy of the articles of association
  • Opening balance sheet
  • Proof that the business will make supplies or is doing so already, such as copies outgoing invoices
  • Copy of each managing director’s passport

All documents have to be filed with the competent tax office where the company is resident via regular mail. It generally takes from four to six weeks until the registration is completed by the Austrian tax authorities.

In order to register a foreign company without a seat or permanent establishment in Austria, the following documents have to be completed and signed by the managing director/s of the respective entity:

  • Questionnaire
  • Specimen signature document
  • Power of attorney

The forms must be filled out in German and filed with the Finanzamt Graz-Stadt via regular mail together with the follow­ing:

  • Excerpt from the register of companies
  • Copy of the articles of association
  • Confirmation by the local tax authorities that the company is registered for tax purposes in their country, in original and not older than one year

This process also takes approximately four to six weeks for the tax authorities to complete.

Late-registration penalties. Usually there is no special penalty for late VAT registration, but the penalties listed in Section J can be imposed. Furthermore, if the tax authorities notice that VAT was not declared and paid due to a non-registration, it could lead to fiscal criminal proceedings.

Digital economy. Apart from the Mini One-Stop Shop scheme, the general rules for supplies apply to digital supplies as well.

Mini One-Stop Shop. The regulations relating to the Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) cover telecommunication services, radio and television broadcasting services as well as electronically supplied services provided by taxable businesses to nontaxable persons.

All of these services are taxed at the place where the nontaxable person is established. The purpose is to reduce administrative burdens for taxable businesses that are operating in a number of different Member States resulting in various VAT obligations. Taxable businesses have to submit a single VAT return with regard to the mentioned services even though these are provided in different Member States. Nil returns have to be submitted.

The registration for MOSS has to be submitted via the respective online portal of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance.

Quarterly VAT returns and payment have to be submitted elec­tronically in the country in which MOSS is applied by the 20th day following the end of the quarter. These VAT returns have to include the following:

  • VAT ID number, provided for the mentioned services by the tax authorities
  • Sum of the net amounts and the VAT amounts for the mentioned services for each Member State itemized by the applicable tax rate
  • Total VAT amount payable

The revenues have to be recorded separately for each Member State. These records have to be kept for 10 years.

Businesses can decide to stop applying MOSS any time effective with the beginning of a new quarter. This decision has to be sub­mitted to the tax authorities at least 15 days before the end of the previous quarter.

Deregistration. With regards to deregistration, no specific form has to be submitted to the Austrian tax authorities. A general application for deregistration can be sent to the Austrian tax authorities anytime during the year. However, all transactions have to be settled and all VAT returns have to be filed in order to proceed with the deregistration process. Basically, the annual VAT return should comprise the entire year, but as soon as all transactions are settled, the annual VAT return can be submitted earlier. Usually a tax clearance certification (issued by the tax authorities) is required. It is possible that a tax audit will be per­formed before issuing this certificate.

VAT rates

The term “taxable supplies” refers to supplies of goods and ser­vices that are liable to a rate of VAT.

In Austria, the VAT rate depends on where the supply is made. In the regions of Jungholz and Mittelberg, the standard rate is 19%. In the rest of Austria, the standard rate is 20%. Reduced rates of 10% and 13% also apply. The standard VAT rate applies to all supplies of goods or services, unless a specific provision allows a reduced rate or exemption.

Examples of goods and services taxable at 10%

  • Most foodstuffs
  • Books
  • Restaurant meals
  • Passenger transport
  • Residential apartment rental
  • Supplies made by private hospitals and charitable organizations
  • Pharmaceuticals

Examples of goods and services taxable at 13%

  • Entrance fees for sport events
  • Entrance fees for cultural events (as of 1 April 2016; before that date, 10%. Further, services performed before 31 December 2017 that were booked and paid before 31 August 2015 are still subject to the reduced VAT rate of 10%.)
  • Hotel accommodation (as of 1 April 2016; before that date, 10%. Further, services performed before 31 December 2017 that were booked and paid before 31 August 2015 are still sub­ject to the reduced VAT rate of 10%.)
  • Domestic flights
  • Animal feed
  • Seeds
  • Supplies made by artists
  • Certain wine sales made by the producer

The term “exempt supplies” is used for supplies of goods and services that are within the scope of VAT, but that are not liable to tax (see Section F). Exempt supplies do not give rise to a right of input tax deduction on related expenditure. Some supplies are classified as “exempt with credit.” This means that no VAT is chargeable, but the supplier may recover related input tax. Exempt with credit supplies include exports of goods and related services to non-EU countries as well as intra-Community sup­plies of goods and related services to taxable persons established in the EU (see the chapter on the EU).

Examples of exempt supplies of goods and services

  • Supplies by businesses with annual turnover of less than EUR30,000
  • Certain postal services provided by universal postal services suppliers
  • Most finance services
  • Insurance
  • Sales and rental of immovable property for commercial uses with some exceptions. (The landlord may opt for taxation of the rent, with the restriction that the tenant must provide services that are eligible for the input VAT deduction. This restriction is only applicable on tenancies beginning on or after 1 September 2012. If the landlord constructed the building prior to 1 September 2012 or if construction by a providing entrepreneur started prior to 1 September 2012, the restriction is not appli­cable.)
  • Medical services

Option to tax for exempt supplies. It is permitted to opt for regular taxation for some exempt supplies, such as the sale of immovable property, certain rentals of immovable property for commercial use (see also Section D), certain services in relation to the credit card business, and interest relating to installment purchases by small businesses.

Time of supply

The time when VAT becomes due is called the “time of supply” or “tax point.” In general, the “time of supply” is the end of the calendar month in which goods are supplied or a service is per­formed. The time of supply may be postponed by one month by issuing the invoice for the supply after the end of the month in which the supply took place. Under Article 44 of EU Directive 2006/112 (general business-to-business rule), this postponement does not apply to services subject to reverse charge. Reverse-charge invoices under Article 196 of the EU Directive must be issued within 15 days of the month following the supply.

Prepayments. The time of supply for a deposit or prepayment is the end of the calendar month in which the prepayment is received.

Goods sent on approval or for sale or return. The time of supply for goods sent on approval or for sale or return is the date on which the customer adopts the goods. If the goods are sent on sale or return terms, the time of supply is the date on which the goods are sent. If the goods are returned, the supply is cancelled.

Intra-Community acquisitions. For intra-Community acquisitions of goods, the time of supply is the date on which the invoice is issued, or at the latest, the 15th day of the month following the arrival of the goods. Invoices for the intra-Community supply of goods must be issued within 15 days of the month following the supply.

Imported goods. The time of supply for imported goods is either the date of importation, or when the goods leave a duty suspen­sion regime.

Cash accounting. Austria operates a cash accounting scheme with a maximum threshold of EUR2 million. The threshold is not applicable for certain public utility companies. If the threshold is not exceeded, input VAT can only be deducted if the payment was made (in addition to a correct invoice). In cases in which the VAT is paid with a transfer of funds from one tax account to another tax account, the payment of the invoice amount is not required for input VAT deduction provided the business’ revenues do not exceed EUR2 million.

Activities of free professions and activities of professionally recognized corporations and legally recognized associations that supply services typical of the free professions, and other busi­nesses without bookkeeping obligations or transactions below a certain threshold, must account for VAT on the basis of the con­sideration received. Upon application, the local tax office may grant permission that the taxation is affected on the basis of the Sollbesteuerung. If the free professions account for VAT on the basis of the consideration received, they must do so in respect of all supplies affected by them, even if the particular supply is not related to the activity typical ofthe free profession (Hilfsgeschäfte).

Reverse-charge services. See Reverse charge in Section C.

Continuous supplies of services. In specific cases it is possible to determine the tax point according to the payments or invoices issued.

Intra-Community supplies. The time of supply for intra-Communi­ty supplies is the end of the calendar month in which goods are supplied or services performed. The time of supply may be post­poned by one month by issuing the invoice for the supply after the end of the month in which the supply took place. However, invoices must be issued by the 15th day of the month following the supply.

Leased assets. General rules apply.

Recovery of VAT by taxable persons

A taxable person may recover input tax, which is VAT charged on goods and services supplied to it for business purposes. Input tax is generally recovered by being deducted from output tax, which is VAT charged on supplies made.

Input tax includes VAT charged on goods and services supplied within Austria, VAT paid on imports of goods and VAT self-assessed on intra-Community acquisitions of goods and reverse-charge services (see the chapter on the EU).

A valid VAT invoice or customs document is required for an input VAT deduction.

Nondeductible input tax. Input tax may not be recovered on pur­chases of goods and services that are not used for business pur­poses (for example, goods acquired for private use by entrepreneurs). In Austria, input VAT may be claimed in full for business assets that are used primarily for private purposes (minimum 10% busi­ness use), but the taxable person must account for output tax with respect to the private use of the assets. In addition, input tax may not be recovered for some items of business expenditure.

The following lists provide some examples of items of expendi­ture for which input tax is not deductible and examples of items for which input tax is deductible.

Examples of items for which input tax is nondeductible

  • Expenditure on the purchase, lease, hire or maintenance of cars (except certain cars used for business purposes without CO2 emission)
  • Fuel expenses for a car (except certain cars used for business purposes without CO2 emission)
  • Private expenditure
  • Business gifts disallowed for direct tax purposes
  • Parking expenses for a car (except certain cars used for busi­ness purposes without CO2 emission)

Examples of items for which input tax is deductible

  • Accommodation
  • Mobile phone costs
  • Books
  • Small business gifts, if allowed for direct tax purposes (but gifts are subject to output VAT if they exceed a value of EUR40)
  • Purchase, lease, hire, maintenance and fuel for vans and trucks and certain cars used for business purposes without CO2 emission
  • Entertainment of business partners (restaurant expenses), if predominantly for marketing purposes
  • Taxis
  • Business travel

Partial exemption. Input tax directly related to the making of exempt supplies without credit is not recoverable. If an Austrian taxable person makes both exempt supplies without credit and taxable supplies it may not recover input tax in full. This situation is referred to as “partial exemption.”

The general partial exemption calculation is performed in the following two stages:

  • The first stage identifies the input VAT that may be directly allocated to exempt and to taxable supplies. Supplies that are exempt with credit are treated as taxable supplies for these purposes. Input tax directly allocated to exempt supplies with­out credit is not deductible, while input tax directly allocated to taxable supplies is deductible.
  • The second stage prorates the remaining input tax that relates to both taxable and exempt supplies without credit and cannot be directly allocated, in order to allocate a portion to taxable supplies. For example, this treatment applies to the input tax related to general business overhead. In Austria, the pro rata calculation is based on the value of taxable supplies compared to the total value of supplies made. The pro rata recovery per­centage is normally taken to two decimal places.

An alternative method is a simple pro rata calculation. A par­tially exempt taxable person may choose to use the pro rata method alone, provided it does not result in the recovery of an amount of input tax more than 5% higher than would be recover­able under the direct allocation method.

Capital goods. Capital goods are items of capital expenditure that are used in a business over several years. Input tax is deducted in the VAT year in which the goods are acquired. The amount of input tax recovered depends on the taxable person’s partial exemption recovery position in the VAT year of acquisition. However, the amount of input tax recovered for capital goods must be adjusted over time if the taxable person’s partial exemption recovery percentage changes during the adjustment period.

In Austria, the capital goods adjustment applies to the following assets for the number of years indicated, if the input VAT exceeds EUR220:

  • Land, buildings and additions to buildings, basic alterations and major repairs to buildings (adjustment period of 10 years)
  • Immovable property used in capital assets for first time after 31 March 2012 (adjustment period of 20 years)
  • Other fixed assets (adjustment period of five years)

The adjustment is applied each year following the acquisition, to a fraction of the total input tax (1/10 or 1/20, respectively, for land and buildings and 1/5 for other movable capital assets). The adjustment may result in either an increase or a decrease of deductible input VAT, depending on whether the ratio of taxable supplies made by the business has increased or decreased com­pared with the year in which the capital goods were acquired.

Due to a planned change in legislation for 2017, capital goods adjustment might no longer be necessary in cases where the input VAT amount to be adjusted does not exceed EUR60 per annum and per asset.

In Austria, the capital goods scheme also applies to current assets and services if the criteria for deducting input VAT changes. For example, the type of business carried on changes from fully tax­able to exempt.

Refunds. If the amount of input tax recoverable in a monthly period exceeds the amount of output tax payable in that period, the taxable person has an input tax credit. The credit may be claimed as a refund by submitting the periodic VAT return and by sending a repayment claim letter to the relevant tax office.

Preregistration costs. VAT invoiced for preregistration supplies can be deducted when the costs directly relate to subsequent tax­able business activities.

Write-off of bad debts. If a customer is unable to pay a supplier for supplies on which the supplier has paid VAT, the supplier can claim bad debt relief, but the supplier must have exhausted all customary procedures for collecting the debt.

Noneconomic activities. Input VAT deduction is only allowed for purchases relating to business activities. In cases where both business and nonbusiness activities are performed, the input VAT has to be allocated, directly or via a pro rata rate, resulting in a calculation of what is deductible and what is nondeductible. Also, see introduction to Section F above and examples of deductible and nondeductible supplies.

Recovery of VAT by non-established businesses

Austria refunds VAT incurred by businesses that are neither estab­lished in Austria nor registered for VAT there. Non-established businesses may claim Austrian VAT refunds to the same extent as VAT-registered businesses.

For businesses established in the EU, refunds are made under the terms of EU Directive 2008/9. For businesses established outside the EU, refunds are made under the terms of the EU 13th Directive. Austria does not exclude any non-EU country from the refund scheme.

The VAT refund procedure under the EU 13th VAT Directive and under EU Directive 2008/9 may be used only if the business did not perform any taxable supplies in Austria during the refund period (excluding supplies covered by the reverse charge; see Section C).

Refund application. The deadline for non-EU claimants is 30 June of the year following the year in which the input VAT was incurred. The deadline for EU claimants is 30 September of the year following the year in which the input VAT was incurred. These deadlines may not be waived or extended.

Non-EU claimants. Claims must be submitted in German and must be accompanied by the appropriate documentation.

A non-EU company claimant must submit the following documents:

  • The official form issued by the Austrian authorities (U5). The relevant invoices must be listed on the reverse of the form. Photo copied forms are accepted, provided the signature is original.
  • The original invoices, which must be attached to the claim form.
  • If the claimant appoints a fiscal representative, an original Power of Attorney appointing the representative.
  • A certificate of the taxable status of the business, which must be obtained from the competent tax authority in the country in which the business is established.

The appointment of a fiscal representative in Austria for a VAT refund claim is not required. However, claimants from non-EU countries must provide an address in Austria to which the Austrian tax authorities may send correspondence.

The minimum claim period is three months. The maximum peri­od is one year. The minimum claim for a period of less than a year is EUR400. For an annual claim, the minimum amount is EUR50.

Applications for refunds of Austrian VAT may be sent to the fol­lowing address:

Finanzamt Graz-Stadt

Referat fuer auslaendische Unternehmer Conrad-von-Hoetzendorfstr. 14-18

A-8010 Graz

Austria

EU claimants. EU claimants must file the refund application electronically in the EU Member State in which they are seated. The deadline for annual applications is 30 September of the fol­lowing year.

EU claimants are not required to enclose any invoices or a cer­tificate of the taxable status with the application. However, the Austrian tax authority may demand additional information, such as original ingoing invoices, in the course of the refund procedure.

The minimum claim period is three months and the maximum claim period is one year. The minimum claim amount for a claim for a period of less than one year is EUR400, while the minimum claim amount for an annual claim is EUR50.

For the general VAT refund rules applicable to non-established businesses, see the chapter on the EU.

Invoicing

VAT invoices and credit notes. An Austrian taxable person must generally provide a VAT invoice for all taxable supplies, includ­ing exports and intra-Community supplies. VAT invoices are not automatically required for retail transactions with private cus­tomers, unless requested by the customer.

Effective 1 January 2016, taxable businesses (specific exemp­tions can apply) are generally required to issue receipts to all customers for cash transactions at the time of the payment. The term “cash transactions” includes payments in cash, by bank cards, credit cards, debit cards, comparable electronic payments (e.g., payments via mobile phone), vouchers, tokens, etc. This obligation exists regardless of the turnover and is equally appli­cable to VAT exempt supplies.

Furthermore, an electronic cash register is mandatory for “busi­ness operations” (according to Austrian Income Tax Law) with a net annual turnover of EUR15,000 if their “cash transactions” exceed EUR7,500. Effective 1 April 2017, the cash register has to be protected against manipulation by a tamperproof technical security device with electronic signature creation.

The threshold that applies for issuing a less detailed tax invoice is EUR400.

A VAT invoice is necessary for input VAT deduction or a refund under the EU 13th Directive or Directive 2008/9 refund schemes (see the chapter on the EU).

A VAT credit note may be used to cancel or amend a previous VAT invoice. A credit note must be cross-referenced to the origi­nal VAT invoice and must indicate why the original invoice needs correction.

Credit notes issued by self-billing recipients of a supply have to explicitly refer to the status of a self-billing invoice (e.g., “Gutschrift”) on the invoicing document.

Proof of exports and intra-Community supplies. Austrian VAT is not chargeable on supplies of exported goods or on the intra­Community supply of goods (see the chapter on the EU). However, to qualify as VAT-free, exports and intra-Community supplies must be supported by evidence proving that the goods have left Austria. Acceptable proof includes the following documentation:

  • For an export, the export document, officially validated by cus­toms, showing the supplier as the exporter, freight documents, or the export advice according to Article 796e of the Commission Regulation 1875/2006 is required.
  • For an intra-Community supply, a range of commercial docu­mentation is needed, including an invoice indicating the sup­plier’s and customer’s EU VAT identification numbers and a statement that the transaction is an intra-Community supply that is exempt from VAT and freight documents (for example, proof of receipt of the goods by the customer). If the customer picks up the goods at the place of the supplier with the cus­tomer’s own means of transport, additional documentation is required (for example, proof of identity of the person collecting the goods, power of attorney signed by the customer that this person is entitled to collect the goods and the original signed confirmation of the customer that the goods will be transported to another EU Member State).

In Austria, the supplier must maintain records of all transactions, including full details as to why a VAT exemption applies (for example, because the supply is an export or an intra-Community supply).

Electronic invoicing. In line with EU Directive 2010/45/EU, elec­tronic invoices that are received in electronic format are valid for the deduction of input VAT, even without an electronic signature. The authenticity of the original electronic invoice, the intactness of its content and its readability must be ensured from the time of issue until the end of the applicable archiving period. Businesses can decide individually how to ensure the authenticity of the original invoice, the intactness of its content and the readability of the content, provided that a reliable audit trail between the invoice and the service is established.

Cross-border invoices. The obligation to issue an invoice is gov­erned by the law of the country of the respective place of supply. The obligations of the home country have to be applied in cases in which a domestic service provider renders services with a place of supply in another EU state and the VAT liability for these services shifts to the recipient, unless the service provider invoic­es via credit notes. The same will apply for invoices of the inter­mediate supplier in intra-Community triangular transactions. Conversely, traders from another EU Member State who render reverse-charge services in Austria or perform triangular transac­tions must observe the financial reporting provisions from their home country. Domestic VAT invoicing rules will also apply for services provided by domestic traders with place of supply in a non-EU country.

Foreign-currency invoices. If a VAT invoice is issued in a foreign currency, the foreign currency used must be clearly indicated. All VAT and customs duty amounts must be converted to euros (EUR), either by using the current exchange rate (proof from the bank required) or the exchange rates issued monthly by the Austrian Ministry of Finance. If an invoice is issued in a foreign currency, the tax amount must be additionally stated in euros. In addition to the average rate published on the Austrian Ministry of Finance homepage, the most recent exchange rate published by the ECB can alternatively be used or the exchange rate proven using bank notifications or a stock exchange list. The same exchange rates apply to the deduction of input VAT by the recipient.

B2C invoices. Effective 1 January 2015, new rules apply to the place of supply for supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services to non-VAT taxable customers. For fur­ther details of the VAT rules on electronic services in the EU, please refer to the European Union chapter.

VAT returns and payment

VAT returns. Austrian VAT returns are submitted monthly if tax­able turnover exceeded EUR100,000 in the preceding year. If a business begins operations, it must submit monthly returns if its turnover will exceed EUR100,000 in the first year. If turnover is less than EUR100,000, VAT returns may be submitted quarterly. In addition, all taxable persons must submit an annual VAT return.

Monthly VAT returns must be submitted and full payment of the VAT due must be made by the 15th day of the second month fol­lowing the return period. If this day is a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the due date shifts automatically to the next work­ing day. If the taxable turnover in the preceding calendar year was less than EUR30,000 and if the payment is made on time, the VAT return form itself does not need to be submitted, unless the VAT authorities demand it. However, the monthly VAT return form must be submitted if a company that is in a repayment posi­tion wants to claim the repayment.

Quarterly VAT returns and full payment of the VAT due must be submitted by the 15th day (the next working day if this day is a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday) of the second month follow­ing the end of the VAT return period.

VAT returns and EU Sales Lists (see Section K) must be filed electronically, if the taxable person has the necessary technical means available to do so.

Special schemes. Not applicable.

Electronic filing and archiving. VAT returns have to be filed elec­tronically via FinanzOnline (the online portal of the Austrian tax authorities). Companies can either apply for access codes to FinanzOnline to submit the VAT returns themselves or assign a tax representative in Austria to submit returns on their behalf.

Records can be stored on electronic devices if the complete, chronological, identical and true reproduction is guaranteed at any time. The Austrian tax authorities may request that support­ing devices in order to make such electronically stored records readable are provided and that a permanent reproduction that is readable without a supporting device is provided. Such perma­nent reproductions shall be provided on electronic devices. The records have to be stored seven years or longer if they are relevant for pending proceedings regarding tax. Longer periods apply for real estate.

Records may be stored outside Austria. Taxable persons are, however, required to be able to produce any records the Austrian Tax Authorities require in a readable form, and within a reason­able period of time, at a mutually agreed place.

Annual returns. In Austria, it is required to submit an annual VAT return in addition to the monthly VAT returns. The due date for submission of the annual VAT return is generally 30 June of the following year if the annual return is filed electronically. This due date may be postponed if the business is represented by a tax representative. However, the tax authorities can request submis­sion at any time after 30 June of the following year.

Penalties

A penalty equal to 2% of the VAT due applies to the late payment of VAT. If the VAT payment has not been made three months after the due date, an additional second penalty is assessed, equal to 1% of the VAT due. If the amount remains unpaid three months after the date that the second penalty was imposed, a third pen­alty is assessed, equal to 1% of the VAT due.

At the discretion of the VAT authorities, they may impose a pen­alty of up to 10% of the VAT due for the late submission of a VAT return.

If a taxable person continually fails to pay VAT, the VAT authori­ties may consider the late payment to be tax fraud, which is sub­ject to much greater penalties.

EU filings

An Austrian taxable person that trades with other EU countries must complete statistical reports, known as Intrastat, if the value of its intra-Community sales or purchases exceeds certain thresh­olds. Separate reports are required for intra-Community acquisi­tions (Intrastat Arrivals) and intra-Community supplies (Intrastat Dispatches).

The threshold for submitting Intrastat statistical reports is EUR750,000 in annual value of intra-Community supplies or acquisitions. (The threshold was EUR550,000 prior to 1 January 2015.)

Intrastat returns may be filed on paper or electronically. The returns must be completed in euros. The Intrastat return period is monthly after the threshold has been exceeded (that is, it is also necessary to file nil returns). The submission deadline is the 10th business day of the month following the return period.

Penalties may be incurred if Intrastat declarations are persistently late, missing or inaccurate.

EU Sales Lists. Under Article 44 of EU Directive 2006/112 (gen­eral business-to-business rule), if an Austrian taxable person makes intra-Community supplies of goods or performs intra­Community services for which the place of supply is located in another EU Member State, it must submit an EU Sales List (ESL) to the Austrian VAT authorities. An ESL is not required for any period in which intra-Community supplies are not made.

For businesses submitting VAT returns quarterly, ESLs are sub­mitted monthly or quarterly. The due date is the last day of the month following the end of the ESL period.

Late submissions of ESLs may lead to a penalty of up to 1% of the amount of intra-Community supplies, determined at the dis­cretion of the tax authorities. However, the penalty may not exceed EUR2,200 per ESL.

The failure to submit ESLs may be considered an offense against the law and may lead to a penalty of up to EUR5,000.