BEIRA Corona Task Force<< Back
Overview of legal measures to mitigate the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis on companies (as per 18 March 2020)
The Austrian legislator, the Austrian federal government and the Austrian social security agencies have taken various measures to mitigate the financial impact of the crisis in connection with "SARS CoV 2" or "COVID-19" ("Coronavirus") for companies. The following is an overview of these measures:
RELIEF EFFORTS FOR AFFECTED COMPANIES
Crisis Management Fund
The "COVID-19 Crisis Management Fund" pursuant to the COVID-19 Fund Act ("Fund") has been established at the Federal Minister of Finance ("BMF") and is administered by the BMF with the aim of providing the necessary financial resources to cope with the Coronavirus crisis situation. The Fund is endowed with up to four billion euros, which can be used, for example, for "measures to mitigate the loss of revenue as a result of the crisis". The funding guidelines are currently being elaborated by the BMF and, according to BMF's information, affected companies should be able to submit respective applications as of calendar week 13.
It should be noted that with the establishment of the Fund, the legal entitlement to full compensation under the Austrian Epidemics Act (e.g. for loss of earnings in case of state-imposed business closures) no longer exists.
Immediate Measures for Tourism Companies and Sole Proprietors/Small or Medium-Sized Enterprises
The Federal Minister of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism has announced guarantees for bridge financings of up to 100 million euros as an emergency aid measure for sole proprietors/small or medium-sized enterprises in the tourism and leisure industry. The support will be provided in form of federal guarantees in an amount of up to 500,000 euros per sole proprietor/small or medium-sized enterprise (with a maximum federal liability rate of 80%). Applications by affected tourism and leisure businesses (including mixed businesses) can be submitted to the "Österreichische Hotel- und Tourismusbank" (www.oeht.at) since 11 March 2020 and must be made jointly with the financing bank. The costs (processing fee and ongoing guarantee commission) will be borne by the Austrian federal fund.
Federal guarantees for bridge financings are also offered for sole proprietors/small or medium-sized enterprises in the commercial and industrial sectors outside of the tourism and leisure industry in an amount of up to 2.5 million euros per sole proprietor/small or medium-sized enterprise (with a maximum federal liability rate of 80%). Applications can be submitted to the "Austria Wirtschaftsservice" (www.aws.at) since 11 March 2020 and must be made via the financing bank.
Emergency Measures at State Level
The City of Vienna, together with the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, has resolved upon an initial aid package for companies affected by the Coronavirus. The focus thereof is on sole proprietors/small or medium-sized enterprises. The initial package includes 12 million euros for guarantees to strengthen the liquidity of Viennese small or medium-sized enterprises, 20 million euros for an emergency fund for sole proprietors and micro-enterprises ("Emergency Fund of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce") and 3 million euros to increase the resources of the Vienna Workers' Promotion Fund (waff) for labour foundations. Further measures will be presented on 18 March 2020.
Guarantees: The City of Vienna provides, via the "Wiener Kreditbürgschafts- und Beteiligungsbank" (WKBG), state guarantees in the total amount of 12 million euros. Such state guarantees (by the City of Vienna or the Vienna Chamber of Commerce) will secure loans of up to EUR 500,000 per small or medium-sized enterprise, with a maximum state liability rate of 80%. The costs of the WKB guarantee (handling fee and ongoing guarantee commission) will be borne by the City of Vienna and the Vienna Chamber of Commerce.
Emergency fund: Sole proprietors and micro-enterprises can receive aid from the Emergency Fund of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in the event of severe distress (drop in turnover > 50%). Details will be presented in the upcoming days.
The province of Lower Austria provides state guarantees in the total amount of 20 million euros via the "NÖ Bürgschaften und Beteiligungen GmbH" (NÖBEG) for Lower Austrian small or medium-sized enterprises in the trade and tourism industry which are adversely affected by the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis. Such state guarantees by the province of Lower Austria will secure loans of up to 500,000 Euro per SME, with a maximum state liability rate of 80%. The costs of the NÖBEG guarantee (handling fee and ongoing guarantee commission) will be borne by the province of Lower Austria.
Further Measures Planned
According to the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, further measures planned include a hardship fund for freelance artists, sole proprietors and micro-enterprises, direct loans to affected companies and the expansion and expedition of OeKB export credits. Details of such further measures are not known yet.
TAXES AND DUTIES
On 14 March 2020, the BMF published measures to mitigate the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis for companies in terms of tax/duty laws. The following concrete measures are available:
Reduction of Advance Payments of Income Tax or Corporate Tax
Taxpayers affected by a loss of income due to the Coronavirus crisis can apply for a reduction of already assessed income tax or corporate tax advances (limit: zero euros) for the calendar year 2020 until 31 October 2020.
Non-Assessment of Advance Payments of Income Tax or Corporate Tax
Taxpayers whose liquidity is so severely affected by the Coronavirus crisis that they are unable to pay income tax or corporate tax advance payments may propose that such advance payments for the calendar year 2020 are not assessed in their entirety or are assessed in a reduced amount (limit: zero euros).
Non-Assessment of Additional Claim Interest
If the discontinuation or reduction of advance payments results (or would result) in additional claim interest upon the assessment of income tax or corporate tax for the calendar year 2020, such interest shall not be actively assessed by the tax authorities.
Deferrals and Instalments; Late Payment Surcharges
Taxpayers can further request a deferral or payment in instalments of taxes/duties and can also propose the non-assessment of statutory deferral interest.
Taxpayers can also apply for a reduction in, or non-assessment of, late payment surcharges, assuming that the late payment is not due to their gross negligence.
The utilization of the above-mentioned measures is subject to the condition that there is or has been a credible demonstration of a liquidity shortage specifically due to the Coronavirus crisis. According to the BMF, this includes, for example, unusually high cancellations of hotel reservations, cancellations of sporting or cultural events due to official prohibitions, failure or impairment of supply chains or loss of earnings due to changes in consumer behaviour. For the (unbureaucratic) provision of such credible demonstration, text modules are available on the BMF's website.
Competence and Dealing
The above-mentioned requests and/or proposals must be submitted to the taxpayer's competent tax office. The competent tax office must deal with such applications and/or proposals immediately.
Social Security Agency for Self-Employed Persons
Anyone who is directly or indirectly affected by the Coronavirus crisis (through illness, quarantine or potentially substantial losses in earnings) and thereby runs into liquidity issues may, upon request, have its social security contributions deferred or pay them in instalments or may request a reduction of its contribution basis. It is also possible to obtain a full or partial leniency for default interest. The respective applications can be submitted to the Social Security Agency for Self-Employed Persons by e-mail or online form.
Austrian Health Insurance Agency
The Austrian Health Insurance Agency has put together a package of measures to support employers in the event of short-term liquidity bottlenecks, which includes deferrals (for a maximum period of three months) or payments in instalments (for a period of up to 18 months) of due social security contributions, as well as a leniency for late payment surcharges and the suspension of enforcement actions or insolvency applications in individual cases.
Our specialists with the respective expertise are at your disposal.