VAT refund procedure

EU Directive 2008/9/EC led to the introduction of an electronic VAT refund procedure for Austrian companies and for entrepreneurs from the remainder of the EU Community territory. The legal basis is the Regulation pursuant to section 21 paragraph 9 of the UStG BGBl No 279/1995 in the version of BGBl II No 158/2014.

Information about procedural regulations and requirements in this regard can be found in margin number 2836 and following of the Umsatzsteuersteuerrichtlinien 2000.

Entrepreneurs from Austria and the territory of the Union

Who can apply for VAT refund under the VAT refund procedure?

FinanzOnline is available to Austrian entrepreneurs for the electronic application for reimbursement of input taxes incurred in another EU Member State.

Foreign entrepreneurs resident in the territory of the Union who are applying for a refund of Austrian input taxes are not permitted to have a registered office or establishment in Austria

  • do not generate turnover in Austria or
  • only generate tax-free turnover (carriage of goods/conveyance of passengers by ship or aircraft) within the meaning of section 6 paragraph 1 (3) of the UStG or
  • only carry out transactions in respect of which the tax liability passes to the recipient (reverse charge transactions in accordance with the second sentence of section 19 paragraph 1 of the UStG)

How is the application to be submitted?

Applications for the refund of input taxes accrued in other EU Member States must be submitted via the electronic portal provided by the Member State in which the entrepreneur is resident (local tax office). The Member State of residence forwards this application to the Member State responsible for the refund.

Which documents are required?

Submission of a certificate of entrepreneurial status (U 70) is not required, since when an application is made in the country of residence, the entrepreneur's application is checked for reliability and completeness.

The details in the refund application and in the invoice have been unified throughout the European Union, to enable prompt, more efficient settlement (see also articles 8 and 9 of Council Directive 2008/9/EC).

It is no longer necessary to submit the relevant paper invoices/import documents. Exception: For invoices over 1,000 Euro or fuel receipts over 250 Euro, the refunding Member State may request that a copy be submitted.

When does the tax refund application need to be filed?

The refund application must be filed electronically no later than 30 September of the following year; the application is deemed to have been filed only when all the necessary details (see 'Which documents are required?') have been provided. The applicant will then receive two electronic confirmations, one when the application is received and another when the application has reached the refunding country, in order to be able to set the date for a potential return (see 'Which input taxes can be reimbursed?').

This deadline cannot be extended. Late submission of the application will result in the tax refund being refused.

For which time periods can input tax refund applications be submitted?

The entrepreneur can also determine the refund period themselves.

The refund period must be at least three consecutive calendar months (e.g. January to March) in one calendar year and must not be longer than one calendar year.

An exception to this is the last month in a calendar year. In this case, the refund period may be shorter, e.g. November and December, or just December). Only full calendar months can be considered as refund periods. There is no provision for a day-to-day differentiation of the refund procedure.

Attention should be paid to ensure that the refund periods do not overlap.

What is the minimum refund amount?

The amount to be refunded must be at least 400 Euro. This does not apply where the refund period is the calendar year or the final period in a calendar year. For these refund periods, the amount to be refunded must be at least 50 Euro.

Which input taxes can be refunded?

Entrepreneurs from the EU can only claim those input taxes accrued in Austria in respect of which the possibility of deduction exists pursuant to the Value Added Tax Act (section 12 of the UStG).

The tax authorities of the EU Member State in question must be contacted for information regarding the input taxes that can be refunded/deducted.

Standard deadlines are in place for processing the application and for reimbursement (four months in principle; up to eight months where additional information is requested). Where the refunding country does not meet the deadline, interest must be paid to the applicant; this only applies where the applicant has complied with the deadlines that apply to him/her.

Entrepreneurs from a third-country territory

Who can apply for VAT refund under the VAT refund procedure?

Entrepreneurs who are not resident in the Community territory, i.e. they do not have a registered office or establishment there, and who

  • do not generate turnover in Austria or
  • only generate tax-free turnover (carriage of goods/conveyance of passengers by ship or aircraft) within the meaning of section 6 paragraph 1 (3) of the UStG or
  • only carry out transactions in respect of which the tax liability passes to the recipient (reverse charge transactions in accordance with the second sentence of section 19 paragraph 1 of the UStG) or
  • only provide electronic services from the third-country territory to non-entrepreneurs and who have made use of the special regulation contained in section 25a of the UStG and articles 357 to 369 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax.

How is the application to be submitted?

The application must be filed by way of application form U5 with a company signature.

Which documents are required?

In order to refund taxes as part of the tax refund procedure, the Graz-Stadt tax office requires the following fully completed forms and/or original documents:

  • Questionnaire Procedure 18 for first-time applicants
  • Application form U 5 with a company signature
  • Original copy of certificate of entrepreneurship, which is comparable with the form U 70
  • Original invoices

Forms that have not been properly completed or missing documents will delay the processing of the application and can result in a refund being refused.

When does the tax refund application need to be filed?

The refund application must be made within six months of the end of the calendar year in which the refund claim arose. The application must be posted by 30 June of the following year. This deadline cannot be extended.

Example

The refund application for the year 2013 must be submitted no later than on 30 June 2014. Delayed submission of the application will result in the tax refund being refused.

For which time periods can input tax refund applications be submitted?

The entrepreneur can also determine the refund period themselves.

The refund period must be at least three consecutive calendar months (e.g. January to March) in one calendar year and must not be longer than one calendar year. An exception to this is the last month in a calendar year. In this case, the refund period may be shorter, e.g. November and December, or just December). Only full calendar months can be considered as refund periods. There is no provision for a day-to-day differentiation of the refund procedure. Attention should be paid to ensure that the refund periods do not meet or overlap.

What is the minimum refund amount?

The amount to be refunded must be at least 400 Euro. This does not apply where the refund period is the calendar year or the final period in a calendar year. For these refund periods, the amount to be refunded must be at least 50 Euro.

Why do I need to submit a certificate of entrepreneurial status?

Refunding of tax amounts as part of the tax refund procedure requires the company to provide an original certificate to their tax office (comparable with the form U 70) as evidence that the company is registered under a tax number.

The evidence/Form (comparable with the form U 70) must be confirmed by the foreign tax authorities and must not be older than one year.

There is no compulsory legal form; foreign and foreign-language forms are also recognised if their content complies with Austrian Form U 70 and provided that a translation is attached.

What evidence/invoices must be submitted along with the application?

A refund can only be made where original invoices and/or evidence has been submitted. Copies cannot be accepted. Original invoices must be submitted at the same time as the application. Subsequent submission of original documents can only result in a refund if it takes place within the application deadline.

The tax office reviews applications and original documents or invoices to check their formal correctness and mathematical accuracy. Objectively, particular care is taken to ensure that the requirements regarding the drawing up of invoices and regarding input tax deduction are met.

It is easier for the tax office to perform their checks if the documents are numbered and included in a list.

Which input taxes can be deducted?

A claim can only be made for those input taxes accrued in Austria in respect of which the possibility of deduction exists pursuant to the Umsatzsteuergesetz (section 12 of the UStG). The input tax amounts attributable to the purchase of fuels after 14 January 2021 are excluded from the refund.

Input tax refunds to Austrian entrepreneurs from third countries must be made in accordance with the rules provided for in the refunding country in question. The competent tax authority in the country in question should be contacted for Information.

FAQ

1. Access to the Austrian portal

1.1. What registration process do Austrian entrepreneurs wishing to submit applications via the portal of the Austrian tax authorities have to go through?

Input tax refund applications from Austrian entrepreneurs must be submitted via the FinanzOnline electronic Portal.

1.2. In the case of an entity subject to VAT in Austria, will all entities be granted access to the Austrian portal, or only the Group leader of the entity subject to VAT?

All entities (provided they have a VAT registration number).

1.3. What registration process do representatives wishing to submit applications on behalf of Austrian entrepreneurs via the portal of the Austrian tax authorities have to go through?

In accordance with Austrian law, business-related representation before the Federal Government's tax authorities is limited to specific professional groups (professional party representatives). These are, in particular, certified accountants (tax consultants, auditors), lawyers and notaries. There is no separate procedure here; instead, authorisation to operate in FinanzOnline on behalf of their clients comes from their professional authorisation, with the relevant chamber being competent. The professional party representatives registered with FinanzOnline are able to submit applications on behalf of their clients domiciled in Austria.

1.4. Do these representatives need to be domiciled in Austria (e.g. registered office, VAT registration etc.), in order to be able to register to submit applications via the portal on behalf of Austrian taxpayers?

The participation of 'foreign certified accountants' in FinanzOnline – and therefore the option to submit applications on behalf of 'Austrian' companies – is only possible for those who have obtained professional Austrian certification and are therefore included in the list of chamber members. Authorisation for 'temporary and occasional service' in Austria is not sufficient in this case. The legal basis for this is the Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz (WTBG), in particular Sections 231 and 232.

2. Submission of applications via the Austrian portal for a refund of foreign VAT

2.1. Is there an upload option in Austria for transferring application information via the portal?

Yes. This is significant for those companies, who have very complex applications or for representatives operating on behalf of many Austrian companies and submitting numerous applications.

3. Acceptance of applications for the refund of Austrian VAT from other Member States

3.1. Do copies of all invoices over 1,000 Euro (250 Euro for fuel) need to be filed in Austria as a matter of course or only upon request from the authorities?

Applicants from other EU Member States do not have to send invoices when making an application. Photocopies or originals of individual invoices can be requested by the tax office during the hold-back procedure.

Applicants from third countries also have to submit original copies of all invoices. The current paper-based procedure still applies to these applicants.

3.2. Where a representative submits an application for a refund of Austrian VAT in the country of establishment, does this representative need to present a letter of authorisation from the foreign company?

Only upon special request by the tax office.

4. Notification of foreign individuals liable for taxation, who are applying for a refund of Austrian VAT

4.1. How will Austria notify the foreign individual liable for taxation, as set out in articles 19, 20, 21 and 23 of Council Directive 2008/9/EC?

Austria will send the confirmation of receipt required in accordance with article 19 paragraph 1 to the tax authorities in the country of establishment in the same electronic manner as it received the application. It is up to the country of residence to decide upon the manner in which the electronic acknowledgement of receipt is sent to the applicant pursuant to article 19 paragraph 1.

The same applies to the 'decision' pursuant to Article 19 paragraph 1 or article 21, i.e. for notification of whether or not the refund is granted, and for the reasoned decision pursuant to article 23, by means of which the input tax refund is agreed.

There are no special features for the appeal procedures addressed in article 23 paragraph 2 (see section 243 of the Bundesabgabenordnung).

The hold-back procedure in accordance with article 20 shall take place via email. For this reason, the application submitted must include an address for electronic communication (article 8 paragraph 1(b)).

4.2. What are the consequences when representatives are involved (and would communications be sent to the representatives instead or additionally)?

Communications pursuant to articles 19, 21 and 23 are sent to the portal of the country of residence, from where the notification is to be made in accordance with the law of the country of Establishment.

The hold-back procedure in accordance with article 20 shall take place via email. For this reason, the application submitted must include an address for electronic communication (article 8 paragraph 1 (b)).

4.3. Does Austria permit refund payments to be made to bank accounts belonging to third parties where instructed to do so by the foreign individual liable for taxation (e.g. to the account of a subsidiary or legal representative)?

Transfers are made to the bank account indicated in the application.

5. Notification of domestic individuals liable for taxation who are applying for a refund of foreign VAT

5.1. How will Austria notify the domestic individual liable for taxation, as set out in articles 15 paragraph 2 and 18 paragraph 2 of Council Directive 2008/9/EC?

Austria complies with the obligation in accordance with article 15 paragraph 2 to send an electronic confirmation of receipt regarding receipt of the application, by sending a communication to this effect to the DataBox (FinanzOnline) belonging to the applicant domiciled in Austria.

The same applies to the obligation in accordance with article 18 paragraph 2, under which the applicant must be notified electronically when their application is not being passed on because they a) are not an entrepreneur, b) carry out solely non-genuine tax-exempt transactions, c) are making use of the small company owner rule or d) is a flat-rate farmer and forester.

5.2. How will Austria forward notifications to foreign tax authorities?

Notifications to foreign tax authorities, which reach the Austrian tax authorities electronically, are sent to the DataBox (FinanzOnline).

5.3. Does the Austrian portal send an email to its individuals liable for taxation (or their representatives), providing them with information and meaning that they do not have to keep looking in the portal to see whether decisions from the refunding country have been sent?

Participants in FinanzOnline have the option of providing an email address to which information is sent regarding any delivery to this DataBox.

5.4. What are the consequences when representatives are involved (and would communications be sent to the representatives instead or additionally)?

Where authority to receive has been given in accordance with Austrian law, information is sent to the person authorised to receive; where this is not the case, information is sent to the applicant.

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 January 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Finance

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