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Update: Temporary introduction of a reduced VAT rate of 5 % from 1 July 2020

Claudia Modarressy Claudia Modarressy

On 20.11.2020, an initiative for the extension of the reduced VAT of 5% in the areas of gastronomy, hotels, culture until 31.12.2021 was submitted to parliament.

The temporary introduction of a 5 % VAT rate for areas particularly affected by COVID-19 was unanimously approved by the National Council on Tuesday, 30 June 2020. On the basis of an amendment - which was also unanimously adopted - a clarification and extension of the areas benefiting from the tax was also made.

The reduced VAT rate of 5% is now to apply additionally to the accommodation sector from 1 July 2020:

Beneficiaries are, on the one hand, accommodation in furnished living and sleeping rooms together with the regularly associated ancillary services (e.g. lighting, heating, service) and, on the other hand, the letting (transfer of use) of land for camping purposes together with the regularly associated ancillary services, provided a uniform user charge is paid.
Included is both commercial accommodation (e.g. hotels, restaurants) and private room rental as well as the provision of holiday flats / apartments, if the conditions for qualification as accommodation are fulfilled. In order to qualify the activity as accommodation, in addition to the mere provision of premises, including their typical ancillary services, a certain level of care must be provided for the premises provided or the guest. The usual services of a tourist accommodation establishment (e.g. cleaning of the premises, provision and cleaning of bed linen and towels) must be provided, which enable the guest to stay temporarily in one place without having to make extensive arrangements of his own.

This does not include the mere letting (transfer of use) of land for residential purposes. The reduced tax rate of 10 % according to § 10 Abs 2 Z 3 lit a UStG 1994 still applies here. The following restriction also applies to the provision of land for camping purposes: the provision of land for the mere parking of vehicles outside the camping season (e.g. in winter) is not privileged.

In the area of culture, the scope of application of the reduced tax rate of 5 % is extended to § 10 para. 3 item 8 UStG 1994, thus to circus performances and the services from the activity as a showman.

In addition, the following was clarified:

In the gastronomy sector, the reduced tax rate of 5 % is to be applied to the supply or administration of food and (alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic) beverages within the meaning of § 111 para. 1 GewO 1994. This includes the following activities:
- Activities for which a trade licence according to § 111 GewO is required
- Activities which only represent an activity according to § 111 GewO, but which are excluded from the GewO (e.g. wine tavern according to § 2 Abs 9 GewO)
- Activities covered by another trade licence (e.g. bakers, butchers and confectioners according to § 150 GewO)
- Activities for which no certificate of competence is required according to § 111 para. 2 GewO


In the field of publications, it has been clarified - in order to avoid delimitation difficulties - that the reduced rate of 5% should also apply to electronic publications (e-books, e-paper, audio books). This will result in equality between physical and digital publications.

The amendment on which this information is based can be found on the homepage of the Austrian Parliament.

Detailed information on the application of the reduced VAT rate of 5 % can be found on the homepage of the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) in an extended information (in German). This information is to be updated on an ongoing basis.

In a supplementary resolution to the legislative resolution, the majority of the members of parliament called on the federal government to take precautions to ensure that the planned return to the original VAT rate from January 2021 would not result in a price increase for consumers.

The resolution is to be passed in the Bundesrat on Thursday, 2 July 2020. Since the introduction of a further reduced VAT rate in Austria is in itself contrary to European law, approval by the EU Commission is also still pending.

With respect to the basic statements on the introduction of the reduced VAT rate of 5 %,

we would like to refer to our article of 24 June 2020

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our experts Claudia Modarressy and Christian Weber.