Corporate - Tax administration

Last reviewed - 14 March 2024

Taxable period

The standard tax assessment period in Austria is the calendar year. However, a company's financial year may deviate. When the tax and financial years deviate, the tax assessments for a year are based on the profits derived in the financial year(s) ending in the respective calendar year (e.g. if tax year is 1 June 2022 to 31 May 2023, then the assessment is financial year 2023).

Tax returns

General rule

Generally, the CIT return has to be submitted electronically by 30 June of the calendar year following the year in which the fiscal year of the company ends. For example, the CIT return 2023 needs to be filed by 30 June 2024.

Representation by Austrian certified tax advisor

If the company is represented by an Austrian certified tax advisor, based on the so-called 'quota system', the tax return can be submitted electronically between 1 October of the following year and 31 March of the second following year at the latest (if the company will not be formally requested by the tax office to file it earlier). The exact month has to be agreed between the company and the tax advisor in advance (see below).

For example, the CIT return 2023 needs to be filed between October 2024 and 31 March 2025 (but can also be submitted before October 2024). If the end of a tax year is 31 May 2023, for example, the filing deadline is 30 June 2024 (without tax advisor) or October 2024 to 31 March 2025 (with tax advisor).

The 'quota system' was based on an agreement between the tax authorities and the Chamber of Tax Advisors and Public Accountants. With the Tax Amendment Act 2023, the previous agreement has been regulated by law and became stricter. According to the new quota system effective since 1 January 2024 and applicable for the first time for CIT returns relating to an assessment period beginning after 31 December 2022, missed deadlines may result in penalties and future quota exclusions. Therefore, the specific month during which a certain CIT return actually needs to be submitted electronically has to be agreed in advance between the company and its Austrian certified tax advisor.

Irrespective of the quota system, the competent tax office can formally request an earlier filing of the CIT return.

In case it is impossible to comply with the deadline for submitting the CIT return, an extension of the deadline can be applied for. However, the approval is a discretionary decision by the competent tax office.

Electronic filing of annual CIT returns

The annual CIT return (as well as the annual VAT return) has to be filed by electronic means. In case of a company that cannot reasonably be expected to file tax returns electronically due to the lack of technical prerequisites, tax returns can be filed using pre-printed forms.

Payment of tax

CIT is prepaid in quarterly instalments during the calendar year, with a final settlement subsequent to the annual assessment (payment falls due one month after assessment). Prepayments of CIT generally are based on the most recently assessed tax year's tax burden (unless the taxpayer can show that its tax charge for the current year will be lower).

The difference between CIT as per the final assessment and the prepayments made is interest bearing from 1 October of the year subsequent to the year when the tax claim arose up to the date when the assessment is made ('late payment interest'). Interest at a rate of currently 5.88% is applied to underpayments (as well as overpayments) of tax.

Tax audit process

Tax audits usually cover CIT, VAT, and WHT. Separate audits are carried out in connection with payroll taxes and social security contributions.

In general, companies are audited every three to four years. The audit period usually covers three to four fiscal years, so, generally, each fiscal year is audited.

The duration of a tax audit depends on the number of years covered and on the complexity of topics (usually between 0.5 and 1.5 years). These topics usually cover ongoing compliance, such as tax returns. Specific topics vary from company to company and can involve, for instance:

  • Business restructurings (applicability of Austrian Reorganisation Tax Act, transfer of intangibles, etc.).
  • Tax groups (all group members are audited together).
  • WHT on dividends, licences, etc.
  • Compliance with the arm's-length principle in case of group transactions (tax auditors recently tend to focus on transfer pricing issues).

Horizontal monitoring

According to the Annual Tax Act 2018, horizontal monitoring was established as an alternative to tax audits for larger companies (i.e. turnover greater than EUR 40 million) that satisfy certain procedural requirements (e.g. comprehensive internal control system).

Under the concept of horizontal monitoring, companies are in regular contact and cooperate with the tax authorities (e.g. regular meetings take place on a quarterly basis). It is based on mutual trust and transparency between the taxpayers and the tax authorities. Companies participating in the horizontal monitoring are not subject to regular tax audits.

Advance rulings

The Austrian tax offices can issue binding rulings in respect of a planned transaction. A binding advance ruling can be obtained on issues of business restructurings, group taxation, international tax law (DTT qualifications), VAT law, and regarding the application of anti-abuse regulations.

The fee claimed by the Austrian tax offices for the ruling varies between EUR 1,500 and EUR 20,000, depending on the turnover of the company.

Statute of limitations

The right to assess CIT is subject to a general limitation period of five years after the end of the calendar year in which the fiscal year ends. Additionally, the limitation period can be extended in cases where certain interruptive events (e.g. tax audit, tax assessment) take place within the general limitation period. The maximum limitation period is generally ten years.

In case of tax evasion, the limitation period is also ten years.

In certain cases, the maximum limitation period can be extended to 15 years.

Regarding the limitation period for collecting CIT, generally the same rules apply.