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Explained: How to understand your payslip in Austria

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How much will you actually receive each month? Photo: Christian Dubovan/Unsplash
If you're employed in Austria, your monthly payslip is a very important document, but it's all too easy to ignore the paperwork and just appreciate the money that arrives in your account. Even many native speakers struggle to understand some of the terms and numbers.

The basics

Most Austrian employees receive their pay monthly on a fixed date. Exactly when this happens should be stated in your employment contract.

It’s stated in Austrian law that you must receive a payslip, and that the information must be complete, clear and comprehensible, so that you can understand how your pay is calculated.

This is important not only so that you can confirm the details and check for any errors, but also for your financial records.

Your payslip is made up of identification details about you and the employer; your gross and net salary; and a breakdown of the components, deductions and additions.

Employer and employee details

Each payslip will include the name and address of your employer as well as details about you, the employee. These include your name, address and date of birth; the billing period; your insurance number, tax category and tax ID number; your hiring date (Eintritt, and if applicable, the date your employment ended, called Austritt). You will usually be given a staff number (Personalnummer) by your employer too.

Lohn or Gehalt

Your payslip will specify whether you receive wages (Lohn) or a salary (Gehalt).

These terms are used interchangeably in some countries and in Austria in informal contexts. But the main difference is that you earn a Lohn if your employment is based on an hourly rate, which means your pay varies based on hours worked, while a Gehalt is based on a fixed monthly rate. People who receive a Lohn are often called Arbeiter/Arbeiterinnen (workers) in Austria, compared to people who receive a Gehalt who are classed as Angestellten (employees).

Many employers in Austria pay a 13th and 14th salary, but there is no legal entitlement to this — it depends what’s in your collective agreement and/or employment contract. If you do receive it, it is taxed at a different rate to your usual monthly salary (the first €620 of these special payments is tax-free, after which the rate is 6 percent).

Bezüge

This section is for additional payments that aren’t part of your basic salary or wages. You might also have a section for Sachbezüge or ‘benefits in kind’, which could include company cars or equipment. These are strictly regulated and you can see the full law here.

If you undertook any business trips, you might receive Taggeld (a per diem). For domestic trips (at least three hours long and at least 25 km from your place of work), these are tax-free up to €26.40 per day, and if your employer pays a higher rate, the amount above this is taxed. You may also receive Kilometergeld (a mileage allowance) if you had to drive there, which is tax-free up to €0.42 per km. Detailed information on reimbursements and tax rules for business trips can be found here.

If you worked any overtime, you will see some payments for Überstunden (overtime). Overtime pay is usually divided into two parts: Überstunden-Grundlohn (overtime – basic pay) which is paid at your usual salary, plus Überstunden-Zuschlag (overtime – supplementary pay) which is paid at an extra rate. Exactly what counts as overtime and what rate it is paid will be regulated in your collective agreement or employment contract, and the rate may be more if you had to work on evenings, weekends, public holidays or otherwise in abnormal conditions.

Bruttobezug 

This is the ‘gross salary’ and it’s important to check this amount because other key payments like social security or sick pay are based on this.

Abzüge

These are deductions from your salary.

The biggest one is almost certainly Sozialversicherungsbeiträge or social insurance contributions. It may be broken down into Pensionsversicherung (pension insurance — you pay 10.25 percent of your salary for this), Krankenversicherung (sickness insurance — 3.87 percent of your salary), Arbeitslosenversicherung (unemployment insurance — 3 percent of your salary).

Lohnsteuer

This is your income tax. Austria has a progressive tax system which means the higher you earn the more you pay, and there is a tax-free allowance so that the first €12,000 you earn as an employee is not subject to income tax.

The rates are changing in 2021, so that the second level (payable on income between €18,000 to €31,000) will be taxed at 32.5 percent rather than 35 percent, and if this applies to you, you should see the change in your payslip from January 2021.

Pendlerpauschale

This is a ‘commuter flat rate fee’ paid to many employees who commute to work. For most workers who are eligible, this works out as €400 per year, but the exact amount can depend on factors such as the distance to work and how many days per month you commute. You can find out more about how this is calculated from the Chamber of Commerce. As an alternative, from July 2021 employers have had the opportunity to pay the costs of employees’ annual transport tickets tax-free.

Lohnnebenkosten

Your payslip may also show additional costs of employment, called Lohnnebenkosten or Dienstgeberanteile. These are the things your employer has to pay in connection to your employment, but which are not calculated as part of your gross salary, such as the employer’s share of social security contributions.

Auszahlungsbetrag or Auszahlung

This is the most important number to you, because it’s the payout amount: the amount of money that will be sent to your bank account. This might be exactly the same as your net income, but in some cases it will also include additional non-income payments or deductions, such as reimbursements for work-related expenses.

Abbreviations to know

BMGLBemessungsgrundlage or taxable income

SVSozialversicherung or social insurance

SZSonderzahlung or special payment

LstLohnsteuer or income tax


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