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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Everything that changes about life in Austria in January 2022

These are the tax, law and other changes to be aware of in Austria in the first month of 2022.

Working with coffee
Have an organised start to 2022 by keeping on top of these changes. Photo: Green Chameleon/Unsplash

Single Johnson & Johnson vaccine no longer valid as proof of full vaccination

From January 3rd, a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will no longer be considered as full vaccination for the purposes of entry into Austria or the domestic 2G and 3G rules. 

This means anyone who has only received one dose of the J&J vaccine should get a booster as soon as possible.

Tax changes

On January 1st, the second level of wage and income tax (payable on income between €18,000 to €31,000) will decrease from 35 to 32.5 percent. In 2023 it will decrease further to 30 percent. 

This is a change from earlier plans for the law, which would have seen this level of tax reduced to 30 percent in July, but this is more complicated for payroll and accounting, so instead the smaller reduction is taking place earlier and affected earners will see the extra money in their paycheck from this month.

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

Austria’s climate citizens assembly gets started

Austria’s new citizens assembly for the climate will begin work in January, with two meetings scheduled for the 15th and 16th of the month. Statistics Austria selected 100 people to represent the nation, who will be assisted in their work by 15 scientists.

The assembly should have started in November but was postponed due to the pandemic. Further meetings are planned for February, March, April, May and June, taking place in Vienna and Salzburg, and the idea is that the assembly helps develop climate proposals. Other people in Austria will get the chance to have their say through online participation.

Public holiday on January 6th

The first public holiday of the year — and the first chance of a long weekend by taking one day of annual leave as a ‘bridge day’ — comes on Thursday, January 6th. In case you missed it, The Local has a guide to maximising your annual leave in Austria.

Back to school

Schools reopen in Austria on January 10th, after some regions decided to stay closed on January 7th last autumn and the decision was made nationwide later in the winter.

To begin with, all students including those fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will need to take Covid tests three times per week, at least one of them (two in some regions) being a PCR test.

READ ALSO: 11 Austrian life hacks that will make you feel like a local

Salary increases

Workers in several industries will see their wages increase thanks to changes to collective agreements often effective from January 1st. For retail workers for example, an average 2.8 wage increase was agreed (which rises to 3.51 percent for those in the lowest wage bracket) so that a minimum monthly salary of €1,700 gross now applies. Those working as civil servants will see an average 3 percent increase, with 3.22 percent rises for the lowest earners.

Water, sewage and waste disposal costs rise in Vienna

Fees for water, garbage and sewage costs are set to increase in Vienna. Owners or landlords of buildings are liable for these costs, rather than renters in Austria. The average increase is estimated by the council at €2.45 for an average household of three people and €1.07 for an average single person household.

Assisted dying becomes legal

This change comes into effect from January 1st. Adults who are terminally ill or suffer from a permanent, debilitating condition will be able to access help ending their own lives.

Two doctors will have to assess each case, one of whom must be qualified in palliative medicine. Among their duties will be to determine whether the patient is capable of coming to the decision independently.

In addition, at least 12 weeks will have to pass before access is granted to make sure euthanasia is not being sought due to a temporary crisis. This period will be shortened to two weeks for patients in the terminal phase of an illness.

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COST OF LIVING

Cost of living: Austria’s postal service announces prices increases

Prices in Austria continue to rise and, this time, mailing letters and parcels will become more expensive. Here is what you need to know.

Cost of living: Austria's postal service announces prices increases

Austria’s postal service Post said business is “difficult” due to “inflation and uncertainty in the energy market”, stating that the package volume has decreased while their operation costs went up.

The state company’s answer to the challenging scenario is to increase parcel prices, and the changes will be valid starting in October.

Starting on October 1st, prices for posting S letters will go up from €0.85 to €1, M letters from €1.35 to €1.40, S packages from €2.75 to €3 and M packages from €4.30 to €4.50.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Why are petrol prices in Austria still so high?

“The first six months of 2022 posed major challenges for companies, especially in Europe”, Post said, stating that the “COVID-19 pandemic, its countermeasures and the resulting delays in the global value chain were the starting point for what is now a worldwide inflationary trend.”

“The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the price increases for important raw materials and energy sources. These conditions will continue in the second half of the year. There is also a risk that the energy market will remain difficult to predict and gas supplies in parts of Europe will not be secure.”

Rising inflation and staff shortages

Inflation has been rising in Austria, reaching 9.2% in July, with essential items becoming increasingly more expensive.

READ ALSO: Inflation at 9.2% in July: How to beat rising prices in Austria

So far, the wave of inflation has affected chiefly energy and food prices but has now also arrived in the gastronomy sector, with increasing costs in bars and restaurants across the country.

However, as fuel and energy prices soar, people in Austria will see increases in all sectors, including postage services.

Another major challenge in the Austrian economy is labour shortage – and Post is now having difficulty finding new employees, especially drivers and workers for its distribution centres.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Austria right now

“We have virtually full employment”, Post CEO Georg Pölzl told the daily Der Standard. He said that the company could immediately hire 1,000 people – if they were able to find the workers.

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