Tax declarations in Austria—how to claim your refund
Are you employed in Austria? Then we have good news—you’re likely eligible to claim a tax refund! Find out which deductions you can claim with this easy-to-follow guide.
7 min read
Dreading all the paperwork that comes with tax season? As a 100% mobile bank, we hear you. But when tax season rolls around, it usually pays to take a closer look at your payslips and receipts. Why? If you’re an employee in Austria, you might have paid more income tax in 2021 than you needed to. Whether you bought professional development books, work clothing, or office furniture in 2021—you can declare these work-related expenses and get a refund from the tax office. We’ll show you how to make the most of your annual tax return, and several other things you’ll need to consider before submitting your tax declaration in Austria.
How income tax is calculated in Austria
In Austria, if you earn more than €11,000 per year, then you’re subject to income tax. There are several different tax brackets, meaning the actual tax rate you’ll pay depends on your annual salary. The highest tax rate is 55% and the lowest is 25%. The tax office calculates the total amount you’ll have to pay each month from your gross salary, based on the assumption that your salary stays the same. However, this isn’t always the case—you might change careers, look for a new job, or even take a sabbatical.
Whatever the reason, if you earned less than the initial assumption during some of those months, there is a good chance you’ll have paid too much tax upfront. On top of that, there are a number of tax allowances in Austria that can contribute to your refund—such as commuting or having children. And there’s more good news—you can file retroactively for up to five years, meaning in 2022, you can file your tax returns for 2017 up to 2021! The hefty refund should be enough reason to devote some of your free time to filing your tax return properly—and, you can do it from the comfort of your own home, too.
Tips for maximizing your tax return savings
You can file your tax return (also called the ANV or “Arbeitnehmerveranlagung”) for the year of 2021 by March 2022 (at the latest) via the official platform FinanzOnline. 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 in income taxes.
However, if you’ve filed tax-deductible expenses such as income-related expenses for previous years, you’ll have to do your annual tax assessment manually. However, even if it’s your first time, you can still file manually via FinanzOnline. Here are just a few of the deductions that may make it worth your while:
Work clothes, professional-development materials, your smartphone bill—as an employee, you might have a number of work-related expenses that are considered tax-deductible in Austria. Were you looking for a job in 2021 and paid for further training out-of-pocket? These fees are considered work-related expenses, too. If you file your tax return without listing any of them, the tax office applies a standard deduction of €132.
Here’s a list all income-related expenses you can deduct from your taxes in Austria, provided they were relevant for your job:
- Work equipment
- Work clothing
- Home office supplies and furniture
- Double housekeeping
- Professional-development materials
- Transportation costs
- Further or advanced training courses
- Union or works council dues
- Travel and accommodation expenses
- Phone and/or internet bills
Budgeting made easy
The new home-office standard deduction
Have you been primarily working from home in 2021? Then you might have had quite a few extra expenses, such as a new laptop or monthly internet bills. As of 2022, employees in Austria can declare a deduction of up to €300 from their income taxes thanks to the home office standard deduction (“Home-Office-Pauschale”). This amount will be deducted by default when you file. On top of that, you can declare another €300 (maximum) for office furniture. Technically, home office supplies are considered work-related expenses. This means that it’s likely worth deducting them individually rather than taking the automatic lump sum of €132.
Are you commuting to work? Then you can save even more! Commuting allowances are another work-related expense. However, in most cases, they are already settled with your monthly salary. For this, your employer uses form L 34 EDV. If the commuting allowance isn’t already accounted for in your monthly salary, you can declare it in your annual tax assessment. Have a closer look at your pay slip or contact your employer if in doubt.
Unanticipated medical expenses
Unanticipated expenses you might have had in 2021 are also considered tax-deductible, provided they exceeded your personal capacity to pay. These include braces, medical bills that aren’t covered by your health insurance, health care expenses, nursing expenses, as well as expenses related to a physical disability.
Child allowance and more
Do you have a family? If your kids are 10 or younger, you can declare child care expenses on your tax return. And if you’re a single parent, the age limit doesn’t apply—meaning you can declare child care expenses of up to €2,300. Tuition fees of up to €110 per month are tax-deductible, too—but only if the nearest suitable school is over 80 km away from your home. Do you receive child allowance or the “Kindermehrbetrag” (for single low-income parents), or do you pay additional contributions to co-insure a family member? If so, you can deduct these expenses from your annual income taxes as well
Tip: Remember to keep all bills and receipts for at least 7 years in case of a tax audit.
Filing your Austrian tax report with a German IBAN
Once you’ve compiled all the necessary data and are ready to file your tax report online, there’s a few extra steps you’ll need to take before submitting. First, you’ll need to register at FinanzOnline and fill in the form L1 for your annual tax return. If you need to declare unanticipated 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’ll 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? Great—you’re likely to receive a refund from the tax office by the end of the year. The average refund is €560, but if you had extra tax-deductible expenses in 2021, you might get even more money back.
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Your money at N26
Taking care of that paperwork is worth it after all, right? And with N26, filing your taxes is becoming even less painless. N26 Insights organizes your monthly expenses and income by category, so you know exactly how much money you earned in 2021 and in which areas you could save a little more. Create your own custom categories with hashtags like #workrelatedexpenses to get an even better overview. Download your bank statements with just two clicks via the N26 Web App—both for your main account and your Spaces sub-accounts.
By the way: Why not create a dedicated Space for your income tax report? This way, you can easily drag and drop your tax refund from your main account into a Space—so you can save that money for your next vacation or special projects. That’s what we call motivation to file your taxes every year to get the most out of your annual tax assessment! Don’t have an account with N26 yet? Not to worry. Visit our compare page to find the account that suits you best and sign up in just 8 minutes!
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