How to get a refund from your 2020 tax declaration in Austria
Are you employed in Austria? When you file your tax declaration, you can claim a tax refund. Find out how to get your money back with this easy-to-follow guide.
5 min read
When tax season rolls around, it usually pays to take a closer look at your payslips and receipts. If you’re an employee in Austria, you might have paid more income tax in 2020 than you needed to. If that’s the case, you’re entitled to a refund from the tax office.
Bought a new laptop for working from home or had to handle extra business expenses in 2020? You can claim a tax reduction for those, too. We’ll show you how to make the most of your annual tax assessment, and all the things you need to consider before submitting your tax declaration in Austria.
How income tax is calculated in Austria
If you’re currently employed in Austria and earn more than €12,000 per year, you’re subject to income tax. The tax office calculates the total amount you have to pay based on the assumption that your salary stays the same every month. However, this isn’t always the case—you might change careers, look for a new job, or take a sabbatical.
Whatever the reasons, if you earn less than the initial assumption during some of those months, there is a good chance you’ll have paid too much tax upfront. In that case, you’ll get a refund when the tax office accepts your annual tax assessment. This applies not just to the previous year, but to the past five years.
On top of that, there are a number of tax allowances in Austria that can contribute to your refund—for instance, for commuting or having children. These chances to get some money back should be enough reason to devote some of your free time to filing your tax return properly.
Annual tax assessment tips to save more
Before you get started, your employer has to be the one who takes the first steps toward filing your tax assessment. In Austria, employers have to file the previous year’s wage and tax statement to the tax office by February 28 at the latest. Only once that’s happened can the tax office start processing your annual tax declaration, also called the ANV or “Arbeitnehmerveranlagung.”
There are two ways to file your ANV. The first is a fully automated process, meaning you don’t need to fill in any forms. You can simply wait for your tax refund to show up in your account balance—provided you did pay too much income tax, after all.
However, if you have filed tax-deductible expenses such as income-related or other expenses in previous years, you’ll have to do your annual tax assessment manually. But, even if you haven’t done this previously, you can decide to file manually via the official platform FinanzOnline. This choice might pay off especially if you had to work from home due to the pandemic and needed to buy office equipment in 2020.
Extraordinary expenses, such as hospital bills or caring for family members that have fallen ill, are also considered tax-deductible. Have a family? If you receive child support you can benefit from the “Familienbonus Plus” tax relief scheme and get a refund of up to €1,500 per child, depending on your income. If you’re a single parent, you’re eligible for other child-related allowances such as the “Kindermehrbetrag” (for single low-income parents), the “Alleinverdiener- und Alleinerzieherabsetzbetrag” (for single earners and parents), or the “Unterhaltsabsetzbetrag” (for parents paying alimony). In this article, we’ll have a closer look at income-related expenses, otherwise known as “Werbungskosten.”
Which work-related expenses are tax-deductible?
Travelling expenses, professional literature, your smartphone bill—as an employee, you might have a number of work-related expenses that are considered tax-deductible in Austria. If you file your tax return without listing any of them, you can apply a standard deduction of €132. However, in 2020 you might have had considerably higher expenses due to social distancing and working from home. With the newly passed “Homeoffice Paket”, you can deduct office furniture, a new printer, or a laptop that you needed to buy to work from home—up to a total of €150 for 2020.
Have a separate room for work in your apartment? Then you can deduct a percentage of your rent, electricity, and heating costs. And if you lost your job due to the pandemic and paid for further training to increase your chances on the job market, you can deduct these expenses from your income tax, too.
Here we list all income-related expenses you can deduct from your taxes in Austria, provided they were relevant for your job:
Work equipment (e.g., office supplies, tools, or technology products)
Work clothes (such as a protective helmet)
Damages that have been caused during work
Home office furniture
Bicycle or vehicle
Employer’s reimbursements for cash register shortages (“Fehlgelder”)
Further or advanced training
Travelling and accommodation expenses
Phone and/or internet bills
Just remember—you need to keep all bills and receipts for at least 7 years in case of a tax inspection.
Filing your Austrian tax report with a German IBAN
You’ve compiled all the necessary data and are now ready to file your tax report online? Next, you’ll need to register at FinanzOnline and fill in the form L1 for the annual tax assessment. If you need to declare extraordinary expenses or child allowances, you’ll also have to fill in forms L1ab and L1k, respectively. You can find several videos and guides online to help you.
Are you currently residing and working in Austria, but using a German bank account? Here’s another tip for filing your tax report online—when entering the German IBAN in FinanzOnline you will get an error notification. The system only accepts Austrian IBANs starting with AT. You can easily circumvent this by adjusting your settings. Just follow these steps:
Go to Profile → General information → Foreign bank account
Enter your German IBAN and click Save
Successfully filed your annual tax declaration? Then you’re likely to receive a refund from the tax office by the end of the year. The average refund is €300, but if you had extra tax-deductible expenses in 2020, you might get more than €1,000 back.
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