2. Covid-19 Act: Amendments
to laws relating to taxes and duties
Stamp Duty Act 1957
The amendment introduces a comprehensive exemption from fees and federal administrative charges for deeds and official acts (thus it is an exemption from fixed fees, but not from stamp duties imposed on legal transactions) that are directly or indirectly related to incidences following from COVID-19 measures. This is to ensure, for example, that no fees or federal administrative duties or charges are payable for applications for support payments under the Epidemic Act 1950. The exemption is to take effect retroactively and cover both future procedures and those already in progress at the time of entry into force.
Tobacco Tax Act 1995
The gradual increase of the tobacco tax rates for tobacco products as defined in the Tobacco Tax Act was postponed from 1 April 2020 to 1 October 2020. The increase of the volume-based tax element in three stages (1 Oct 2020, 1. Apr 2021, 1. Apr 2022) at EUR 5 per 1,000 units and the reduction of the value-based tax element in three stages at 1.5% of the retail selling price remain unchanged.
Federal Fiscal Code
In pending administrative proceedings of the tax authorities, all deadlines provided for the ordinary appeal procedure (7th Section, Subsection A) which have not yet expired by 16 March 2020 or whose period begins between 16 March 2020 and 30. April 2020 shall be interrupted until the end of 30 April 2020. They shall restart on 1 May 2020. This concerns the time limits for appeals (Bescheidbeschwerden), submission requests (Vorlageanträge) and complaints about measures (Maßnahmenbeschwerden), but not any other deadlines.
The tax authority may declare in the relevant proceedings that a deadline is not interrupted and set a new reasonable deadline.
In addition, the Federal Minister of Finance was authorised to extend the interruption of the deadlines until 30 April 2020 by regulation until 31 December 2020 at the latest or to provide for further general exceptions to the interruption, insofar as this is necessary to prevent and combat the dissemination of COVID-19.
Where, as a result of measures taken to prevent the dissemination of COVID-19, freedom of movement or interpersonal contact is restricted, oral hearings and interrogations, with the exception of audiovisual interrogations, shall be conducted only to the extent strictly necessary to maintain the proper administration of justice. The same applies to oral communication between the authorities and the parties involved, including the receipt of oral submissions, and with other persons in the course of the proceedings. Where it is absolutely necessary to hold a interrogation or oral hearing, they may be held in the absence of all other parties, using appropriate technical means of communication.
The following applies to provincial and municipal taxes: If, as a result of the appearance and dissemination of COVID-19, the activity of an authority ceases, the higher authority in question shall, at the request of one of the parties involved, designate another competent authority in the same country to decide the matter. This is only the case if during the aforementioned interruption of deadlines, procedural steps are to be taken which are urgently necessary to prevent substantial and irretrievable damage to one of the parties involved.
Tax Criminal Code
Based on § 1 of the COVID-19 Judicial Act, an interruption of time limits should also apply to tax criminal proceedings.
The period for objection (§ 145 (1)), the period for appeal (§ 150 (2)) and the period for filing an appeal (§ 150 (4)) will be suspended if the period has not yet expired on 16 March 2020 (thus retroactively) or has started to run between 16 March 2020 and 30 April 2020. The periods shall begin to run anew on 1 May 2020.
In the respective proceedings, the criminal tax authority may declare that a deadline is not interrupted, but instead that a new reasonable deadline applies.
In addition, it is provided that according to the new Act to Prevent the Dissemination of COVID-19, oral hearings, with the exception of audiovisual hearings, are only to be conducted to the extent that this is absolutely necessary to maintain an orderly administration of criminal justice in financial matters (§ 265a (4)). Similar provisions are to be implemented for party transactions.
Finally, the Federal Minister of Finance is bestowed with the authority – analogous to the Federal Fiscal Act limited until 31 December 2020 – to issue Regulations, on the basis of which, inter alia, the interruption of time limits pursuant to mentioned provision can be extended; further general exceptions to the interruption or further provisions can be provided, e.g., a Regulation can also exclude consequences of default in the event of non-compliance with deadlines and determine whether and how procedural disadvantages arising from the failure to meet deadlines or dates can be avoided or eliminated.
Please note: This newsletter merely provides general information and does not constitute legal advice of any kind from Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH. The newsletter cannot replace individual legal consultation. Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH assumes no liability whatsoever for the content and correctness of the newsletter.
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