How the Coronavirus Will Affect Your Business in Austria

Over the mid-March weekend, the Austrian government put together a €4 billion relief package for companies and the self-employed, who have suffered massive losses due to the coronavirus.

Updated on Wednesday, March 18 to reflect changes in the emergency relief package.

On Monday, March 16, Austrian businesses officially went into crisis mode –  aside from significant hits to tourism and retail, the government ordered that whenever possible, personnel should work remotely (Metropole’s team has been doing so since Friday, March 13). Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) stated on Sunday, March 15 that this will be a hard week, and the federal government is finding ways to support companies that have taken a hit due to coronavirus countermeasures.

One of these was announced the same day: a €4 billion relief package, which Chancellor Kurz and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) stated will include “cash on hand” for the self-employed to weather the crisis. The pot is set to feed into various funds, including some that are specifically for the self-employed and family businesses.

On March 18, the package was expanded to €38 billion and in the press conference, both Kurz and Kogler stressed that no business that has suffered from the security measures would be left behind. The package also includes various incentives for keeping employees (see below) and delaying tax payments until revenues are back at normal levels.

What’s included in the package?

Further aid for businesses includes expanding Kurzarbeit (short-time work), allowing employees to reduce their work output to zero with the state paying up to 90% of their salary. The measure seeks to ensure that companies aren’t forced to lay people off due to temporary revenue shortages. Kurz said the costs would turn their projected minor budget surplus into a “massive deficit,” but Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) stressed that “there will be as much money there as needed.”

The Ministry of Finance offers a combined form for companies and the self-employed to request tax relief to secure companies’ liquidity, according to Blümel. The form can be sent to of uploaded on the FinanzOnline account of the company. Here is what you can request: 

  • A reduction of advance payments (Vorauszahlungen) for income tax (Einkommensteuer) or corporate tax (Körperschaftssteuer) to zero
  • Suspension of interest on back taxes owed (Nichtfestsetzung von Anspruchszinsen)
  • Delayed payment or payment by instalments
  • A waiver or reduction of overdue fees

Other relief measures for companies and opportunities to apply will be released over the coming days and will be updated here in English. The funds for tourism, gastronomy and other event-related companies will start accepting applications in the week of March 23.

Companies can find detailed information by sector in German on this page.

Relief for Viennese businesses

The City of Vienna and Vienna Chamber of Commerce have announced their own €35 million aid package for local businesses, the largest in the latter organization’s history. Measures include:

  • €12 million in guarantees to ensure liquidity for Viennese SMEs (backed by the private bank Wiener Kreditbürgschafts- und Beteiligungsbank)
  • €20 million emergency funding for the self-employed and very small companies (applications can be submitted starting April 1)
  • A €3 million increase of WAFF funds for labor foundations (Arbeitsstiftungen)

City Hall has a website dedicated to the coronavirus measures; in addition, both the Austrian and Viennese Chambers of commerce have all the relevant information and available forms. Their Frequently Asked Questions page has a list of all planned relief efforts and will link to the proper application forms as they are annouced.

We will continue to publish information regarding aid for companies on this page as the situation unfolds. You can also keep up-to-date by checking our Corona Update page or following us on social media.

Margaret Childs
Margaret (Maggie) Childs is the CEO and Publisher of METROPOLE. Originally from New York, Vienna has been her home since high school. She is known for non-stop enthusiasm, talking too fast, inhaling coffee and being a board member of AustrianStartups, where she helps entrepreneurs internationalize. Follow her on Instagram @maggie_childs and twitter @mtmchilds.

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