Austria: Austrian VAT
Last Updated: 19 July 2014

Austria comes under the EU VAT rules, and is part of the European Union single market economy. VAT Directives are issued by the EU which lay out the principles of the VAT regime to be adopted by the member states, including Austria. These Directives take precedence over the local legislation.

Austrian VAT Law

Austria introduced VAT, known as UST MwSt in 1973. It is administered by the Bundesministerium fur Finanzen (Ministry of Finance).

Austrian VAT Registration

Foreign companies may register for VAT in Austria without the need to form a local company – this is known as non-resident VAT trading. There is no VAT threshold in Austria for the registration of foreign traders, and an application for a VAT number must be received by the VAT Department no later than 30 days from the first taxable supply. This also applies where foreign businesses execute intra-community acquisitions, as these may trigger the need to VAT register.

Non-EU companies may need to appoint a local fiscal representative in some cases.

There are strict rules on the situations where a registration is permitted. Common scenarios which require an Austrian VAT registration include:

  • Importing goods into the EU via Austria;
  • Buying and selling goods within Austria;
  • Holding goods in a warehouse in Austria as stock;
  • Selling goods from Austria to other EU countries;
  • Acquiring goods from other EU countries into Austria; and
  • Distance selling to private individuals in Austria from another EU country e.g. internet retailing.

Registering for Austrian VAT generally takes around 3 weeks, although this can vary.

Austria VAT Compliance

There are detailed rules controlling the recording and processing of Austrian transactions. These include guidelines on:

  • Austrian invoice requirements;
  • Foreign currency invoicing and reporting;
  • Correcting errors in previous returns; and
  • What records must be kept.

Austrian VAT Rates

The standard VAT rate in Austria is 20% - since January 1984. There are reduced rates of 12% and 10% for food, books, accommodation rental and other goods and services.

There are many variations to the rates above, including exempt and zero-rated taxable supplies.

Austrian VAT Returns

Companies with an Austrian VAT number must submit periodic returns detailing all taxable supplies (sales) and inputs (costs). Returns are submitted either monthly or quarterly in Austria – the rules and application are mixed. VAT returns in Austria are due 45 days from the end of the reporting period. An annual VAT return is also required in June of the following year.

Returns can be filed electronically through the Austrian FinanzOnline system - which only operates in German.

Austria - Intrastat and EC Sales Lists

In addition to VAT returns in Austria, companies may be required to submit additional statistical information. The Austrian Intrastat system, (or supplementary statistical declaration), requires a monthly return listing all movement of goods between Austria and other EU-member states. There are annual thresholds for these filings.

The EC Sales List (ECSL) return contains information on the VAT numbers of EU customers and the values of sales in the period to them, and must be filed quarterly. ECSL filings can only be submitted online through the VAT Department's e-VAT services.

Austrian VAT Refunds

If a foreign company is not making taxable supplies in Austria, but is incurring Austrian VAT on local goods or services, then Austrian VAT may recovered through a VAT reclaim

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