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TAX

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Austria? 

It's tax time in Austria. Here's your guide to some common deductions.

A home office is one of the ways you can claim tax back as a freelancer (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)
A home office is one of the ways you can claim tax back as a freelancer (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

Austria may be a great place to live and start a business but the more you earn, the more taxes you will have to pay.

So how can you get back some of your hard-earned money when completing a tax declaration as a freelancer in Austria?

The Local spoke to SEA – Services for self-employed and Tax Advisor Alexandra Kaspar to find out. 

What can you deduct?

First of all, there are many items you can deduct from your tax bill. If you are self-employed, you can deduct all expenses related to your business from your revenue.

For example :

  • office costs including costs for working from home
  • training costs
  • car and transportation, travel expenses
  • communication expenses
  • office supplies
  • liability insurance and other insurances, which are related to your business
  • social security contributions (SVS) (but only what you paid so far for the relevant year).

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about paying tax in Austria

For some of the items mentioned above especially working from home, training and car/transportation costs, there are special circumstances and regulations.

What about a flat tax deduction rate?

Many people decide rather than claiming back the tax for every individual item, they would rather apply a flat tax deduction rate. 

In this case, as long as your annual revenue does not exceed €220,000, you can apply a tax deduction rate (Betriebsausgabenpauschalierung) of 6 percent or 12 percent depending on your business or activity.

This saves you having to collect bills for all your expenses. 

After deducting the flat tax deduction rate, you can still subtract your social security (SVA) contributions.

READ MORE: Being self-employed in Austria: What you need to know

The Raiffeisen Bank in Austria  (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

New flat rate for small businesses

From 2020 onwards, another flat rate has been introduced for small businesses: up to an annual revenue of €35,000, the flat rate for expenses will be 20 percent for service providers and 45 percent for other businesses, for example trading businesses. 

Social security contributions can also be deducted in addition to the flat rate. 

From 2021 onwards, this rule is connected to VAT exemption for small businesses (this is also applicable even if the small business “opts to apply VAT”), and can therefore be applied up to a revenue of €42,000.  

There is an upper limit of €8,400 for expenses which can be deducted for businesses which provide services and an upper limit of €18,900 for other businesses. 

After the deduction of actual expenses or the flat rate and social security contributions, you come up with the amount of your actual profit. 

Additional tax free profit allowance

An additional 13 percent tax-free profit allowance (Grundfreibetrag) can then be deducted from the net amount for business with profit up to €30,000. 

If your profit before the 13 percent allowance amounts to more than €30,000, an additional 13 percent allowance may apply to the extra amount, if it is covered by certain investments into business assets (Gewinnfreibetrag). 

You can use this tax calculator to calculate your income tax

When does it make sense to claim individual expenses rather than the flat rate?

Tax Advisor Alexandra Kaspar says that sometimes it makes sense for service providers to claim for individual expenses instead of choosing a flat rate, especially when there are big costs related to materials, equipment and rent for an office. 

This could be the case for therapists or physiotherapists renting an office, artists with their own studio or film production companies for example.

Some companies have a big amount of expenses in the first year and this is when it’s more beneficial for them to collect bills rather than claim back the flat rate of tax.

What else can I deduct from tax?

If you are eligible to deduct expenses for an office in your private apartment (i.e. when working from home) you may deduct:

  • a part of the rent
  • a part of electricity and gas costs
  • a part of the costs of furnishing the room 
  • maintenance of the room and the furnishings
  • work equipment such as computers, fax machines, printers, etc (deductible even if they are set up in a room that doesn’t match the deduction requirements)

Further education

  • work equipment and work documents
  • transportation costs
  • accommodation costs
  • specialist literature (job-related literature or literature to improve job opportunities)
  • office and writing materials
  • part of the telephone and internet costs

Other deductibles:

  • consulting costs (e.g. from lawyers, tax consultants)
  • interest on debt (for liabilities related to your business)
  • contributions for compulsory memberships, for example the Chamber of Commerce (WKO)
  • advertising expenses

You can learn more about all the possibilities for deductibles at www.bmf.gv.at

SEA – Services for self-employed is designed to support self-employed individuals by delivering information in form of guidebooks and free articles in English. 

You can find out more in their guidebook on self-employment aimed at those who fall into the New self- employed (Neue Selbständige) working category.

Useful vocabulary

Tax – Steuer

Steuerberater/ Steuerberaterin – Male tax adviser/ Female tax adviser

Flat tax deduction rate – Betriebsausgabenpauschalierung

Tax-free profit allowance  – Grundfreibetrag

Business assets – Gewinnfreibetrag 

New self-employed – Neue Selbständige

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TAX

The taxes in your region of Spain you probably didn’t know existed 

Madrid has just announced it wants to be the first region to scrap regional taxes, but what are these tariffs that apply to specific autonomous communities? And where in Spain do taxpayers pay the most?  

The taxes in your region of Spain you probably didn't know existed 
Which autonomous community in Spain has the most regional taxes? Photo: Javier Carro/Wikipedia

Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, with the exception of the Basque Country and Navarre, all have their own taxes which are applicable to people and companies in their territory. 

Known as impuestos propios (own taxes), these tariffs are applied by regional governments to address matters pertaining to their community which they’re looking to solve. 

On September 1st, Madrid’s regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso made headlines by announcing she intended to scrap the remaining impuestos propios in the region (tax on slot and arcade machines in bars and restaurants and a tax on the storage of waste), amounting to €3.4 million annually for Madrid taxpayers.

This only accounts for 0.02 percent of taxes paid by the region’s 6.6 million inhabitants, but Ayuso’s announcement had made people across Spain more aware of the existence of these little-known regional taxes in their part of Spain.

Madrid’s leader has argued that some regional taxes are now becoming redundant or obsolete as other tariffs are introduced by Spain’s central government on a national level.

madrid scraps regional taxes impuestos propios

Ayuso has said her government will refuse to adapt its tax system to decisions made by Spain’s central government, especially when it comes to its very low taxes on inheritance and assets. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

Spain’s 17 regions are responsible for applying their own autonomous taxes, which depending on what they are, can make life more or less expensive for the average person in Spain depending on their location. 

Regional governments are also responsible for setting tax levels on inheritance and assets, which can vary enormously between territories.

EXPLAINED: How choosing the right region in Spain can save you thousands in inheritance tax

So which region of Spain has the most regional taxes? And what are the impuestos propios that you have to pay in your part of the country?

Catalonia

Catalonia has the most regional taxes of all of Spain’s 17 regions, with 13 impuestos propios adding €137.3 million to public coffers in 2020. 

The latest to be added is the tax on C02 emissions for vehicles, along with other tariffs on large commercial establishments, empty homes, tax on tourism stays, sugary drinks, a tax on luxury goods and several other environmental levies relating to water, waste and emissions. 

Andalucia

Spain’s largest region has the second highest number of regional taxes in the country with eight impuestos, although some of these are currently not applied. 

Taxes on unused land, credit agency customers, single-use plastic bags and a number of other environmental taxes added €145 million in tax revenue to Andalusian authorities in 2020. 

Murcia 

Murcia has six regional taxes in place in 2021: three environmental ones, one on bingo prizes, another on economic activities and a water treatment tax, all of which accounted for €55.9 million in taxes in 2020.

Galicia 

The northwestern region has six autonomous taxes which added €80 million to public coffers last year, including a fee on derelict or abandoned homes and a number of environmental taxes relating to mining, pollution, wind energy and water treatment.

Asturias 

Galicia’s northern neighbour also has six regional tariffs which added €118 million paid to Asturias’s tax office in 2020. They include a tax on bingo prizes, water treatment, unused rural land, large shopping centres, economic activities as well as environmental levies. 

Economists in Asturias are calling for regional authorities to lower levies for inheritance and asset taxes as well as regional taxes, suggesting higher-than-average tariffs are dissuading investors.

Canary Islands 

The Atlantic archipelago has five individual taxes, three of which belong to the Canaries’ unique IGIC tax regime (no VAT): General Indirect Tax, AIEM consumer tax and registration tax. The other regional levies are on tobacco, waste spills and petrol-based products.

Aragón 

Aragón in northeast Spain has five regional taxes, all of them environmental. In 2020 Aragonese authorities collected around €100 million from taxes on water pollution, atmospheric damage, environmental impact of large shopping malls, electricity installation and transport as well as on the use of stored reservoir water.

Extremadura

The western region also has five regional taxes which added €115 million to public coffers last year. Active tariffs in Extremadura are on landfill processes, water treatment and hunting.

Valencia region 

The eastern region has four regional taxes in total: a tax on empty homes for those with more than ten properties, tax on waste processes, activities that have an impact on the environment and water treatment. 

The Valencia region’s tax head Vicent Soler has referred to Ayuso’s words as a “smokescreen” that accounts for an insignificant amount for Madrid taxpayers and that slashing regional taxes “will mean those who need it most get fewer services”. 

The Balearic Islands 

The Balearic Islands also have four regional taxes, of which only two are currently applied: the tax on tourist stays (€36.8 million collected in 2020), which is based on overnight holiday stays on the islands, and the wastewater treatment fee (€78 million collected in 2020).

La Rioja

Spain’s famed wine-producing region has four regional taxes, with which in 2020 it added €12 million to its public coffers. These are a tax on cell towers that have a negative visual impact,  water treatment, waste management and a levy on economic activities.

Cantabria

Cantabrian authorities collected €27 million in 2020 from their regional taxes on water treatment, waste deposit in landfills and a levy on economic activities. 

Castilla-La Mancha

In the central Spanish region there are regional taxes on wind energy and economic activities that have an environmental impact.

Castilla y León

Authorities in Castilla y León have said they don’t plan to follow in Madrid’s footsteps and eliminate its own current environmental taxes, which are mainly paid by electricity companies.

Castilla y León currently receives almost €63 million with its tax on the environmental impact caused by certain uses of stored reservoir water, a tax on wind farms and another on high voltage electric power transmission facilities, as well as a further €7.6 million from landfill waste management taxes.

You can read more about impuestos propios on Spain’s Hacienda website (information in Spanish). 

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