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Doing Business in Austria

Doing Business in Austria


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Business Start-Ups

Business Start-up Promotion Act (Neugründungsförderungsgesetz)

If you intend to set up a company, you will be expected to pay various fees. However, if your business start-up meets a number of requirements set forth by what is known in Austria as the Neugründungsförderungsgesetz (which translates as Business Start-up Promotion Act), certain fee exemptions may apply.

Your start-up might be exempt from the following fees:

  • stamp duty (Stempelgebühren),
  • administrative fees (Bundesverwaltungsabgaben),
  • real property transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer),
  • court fees (Gerichtsgebühren),
  • payroll fringe costs (Lohnnebenkosten).

Industrial law (Gewerberecht)

In Austria, a number of trades require some sort of qualification certificate. You will need a business license, especially if the nature of your work requires skilled labour (e.g., a mechanic or a carpenter). The qualification you need to provide depends on the type of business you intend to establish.

To obtain a business licence you generally need to:

  • have Austrian or EU/EEA citizenship;
  • be a natural person aged 19 or older;
  • have no reasons for exclusion in your records (e.g., financial offence, court sentence);
  • have a business location and, if required, hold an operating licence (Betriebsanlagengenehmigung).

If you intend to establish a corporation or a partnership, you need to appoint one managing director who holds the right to exercise this trade (e.g., a carpentry business must have at least one fully qualified carpenter as its managing director).

Sole proprietors are required to designate a licensed managing director if they do not meet the requirements themselves.

There are a lot of unregulated trades for which you do not need any qualification (e.g., any kind of trading).


The most important taxes are:

  • income taxes: income tax (Einkommenssteuer) and corporate income tax (Körperschaftsteuer), capital gains tax (Kapitalertragsteuer)
  • value-added tax (Umsatzsteuer)
  • real property transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer)

Income taxation

Income tax (Einkommenssteuer)

Natural persons whose place of residence (Wohnsitz) or habitual place of residence (gewöhnlicher Aufenthaltis in Austria are obliged to pay income tax. Basically, they are subject to income tax on their worldwide incomeNon-resident taxpayers only need to pay income tax for their Austrian income. Generally, earnings are subject to income tax if they fall into one of the seven income categories under fiscal law, which are:

  • income from agriculture and forest economy;
  • income from independent services;
  • income from trade and business;
  • income from employment;
  • income from capital investments;
  • income from rent and leasing;
  • other earnings.

In a first step, these seven items are added up. Once any special and extraordinary expenses have been subtracted, you have the basis for income tax calculation. Income tax is a progressive tax ranging from 0 to 55 percent.

Annual income of up to € 12,816 (in 2024) does not require the payment of any income tax.

In Austria, employees receive 14 monthly salaries a year. The 13th and 14th salaries are subject to tax privileges.

Companies and income tax
Sole proprietors and partners in partnerships are likewise subject to income tax.

Taxation of partnerships:
The partnership itself is not subject to taxation. The profit is directly attributed to the partners and they are subject to income tax.

Corporate income tax (Körperschaftsteuer)

The profits of corporations are subject to corporate income tax. Corporate income tax is 23 percent (non-progressive, in 2024).

Corporate income tax payers are required to pay a minimum tax amount regardless of whether the corporation makes a profit or not. Limited liability companies (GmbH) are required to pay € 500 (1.1.2024) a year. 

Joint stock corporations pay a minimum of € 3,500 in taxes.

Capital gains tax (Kapitalertragsteuer)

Capital gains tax is withheld for dividends paid and for interest on bank deposits as well as bonds. 27.5 percent are withheld at source so individuals are not obliged to pay capital gains tax themselves.

Value-added tax (Umsatzsteuer)

The VAT rate is 20 percent. In some special cases this rate has been reduced to 10 or 13 percent.

Real property transfer tax (Grunderwerbssteuer)

Land acquisition is subject to a 3.5 % real property transfer tax on the purchase price.

Social security system

The social security system in Austria is based on the principle of compulsory insurance (Pflichtversicherung). It includes accident insurance (Unfallversicherung), pension insurance (Pensionsversicherung) and health insurance (Krankenversicherung).

Both the employer and the employee pay towards social security. The insurance contribution is deducted by the employer from the employee’s total monthly earnings.

Contribution of the Employee Contribution of the Employer
Hourly wage (blue collar) 18.07 % 20.98 %
Salary (white collar) 18.07 % 20.98 %

The maximum monthly assessment base (Höchstbeitragsgrundlage) is € 6,060 (2024).

Accounting principles / Reporting requirements

Accounting principles under tax law expand on the general bookkeeping obligations (Buchführungspflicht) set forth by commercial law (Unternehmensgesetz). Therefore, all taxpayers who are obliged to keep accounts under commercial law are also obliged to keep accounts for tax purposes.

In corporations, account records must be kept in accordance with general accounting principles. The same applies to sole proprietors and partnerships with an annual profit of more than € 700,000.

All companies that are not subject to the general accounting obligations can either prepare a statement of income and expenses (Einnahmen-Ausgabenrechnung) or opt for lump sum taxation (Pauschalierung).

Austrian business culture

The business culture in Austria at a glance:

typical working day in Austria is from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Hierarchy and status are two important values in Austrian business culture. Make sure that you have any titles (professional, academic) you hold on your business card. When you meet business partners, you should always formally address them by their titles followed by their family names.

If you wish to establish a strong business relationship, punctuality is very important. You should arrive at meetings well prepared.

When engaging in business small talk you should not mention the role of the Austrians in World War II and it is advisable not to talk about money or religion. Make yourself familiar with facts that distinguish Austria from Germany, because Austrians are proud of the unique features of their country. They think of themselves as a ‘skiing nation’ and are very proud of their successful skiers. 

Last updated: 01. January 2024

While great care has been taken in compiling our data, we cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will support you, subject to our professional qualifications, at any time.

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