Setting up a business in Austria ?
Setting up a business in Austria
Here we offer some straightforward advice about setting yourself up in business in Austria. This advice is not aimed at major International or large companies but at the owners of potentially small business concerns.
Register for tax.
The "Finanzamt" is the Austrian version of HMC&E office
First of all, if you decide to live in Austria and buy say a small hotel, then you are considered tax resident from the day that you registered with your local Gemeindeamt. People believe that they can pay their taxes in any country in the EU that they choose but European law says that you are tax resident and your business is taxable in Austria if you "run and manage" it in Austria. It is the "place of management" which decides.
Deal with your tax registration as soon as possible after arrival because the longer the problem goes on, the longer and more expensive it will be in accountants fees to sort out the mess.
Most people use the services of a tax accountant "Steuerberater" who will give you professional advice, complete your tax returns, handle staff wages and all such matters.
Man & wife / partner businesses
Get it right from the start
Your Steuerberater will guide you as to the most tax efficient way to set up your business. If you are going to be a sole trader and you are on your own then that is quite simple.
If there are two of you, then normally one becomes the boss and employs the other. This saves a lot in national insurance costs but both of you are still eligible to health service benefits and so on. This is by far the largest group of people and the majority of small hotels and B & B's are set up in this way.
Your accountant in Austria will also advise you about the vat system. Known as Mehrwertsteuer or Umsatzsteuer as you will need to know the vat rates for various products and services and will need to complete the vat returns.
All business trading years are the same in Austria. - 1st January to 31st December. You cannot have a year end in March or whenever.
Doing business in Austria
The normal form of small limited company in Austria is the GmbH - Gesellschaft mit beschränkte Haftung - or Limited liability Company.
Normally a Notary or Lawyer will set up a GmbH for you. In essence, the minimum initial nominal capitalisation is 35,000€ of which 50% must be paid into the company on day one - i.e. 17,500€. You can draw it all out the next day if you wish but it has to be there when the company is registered.
There is no "Memorandum and articles" as many of you may be used to and the details of the trading intentions of the company are incorporated into the document which you sign at the Notaries' office. Otherwise a GmbH runs pretty much like a normal Limited Liability Company.
The equivalent of Companies House is a Company register called the Firmenbuch. Your new GmbH will be listed there by the Notary.
We have close links with the Austrian Government department tasked with helping businesses and companies to establish themselves in Austria. We will provide free introductions where it is relevant and they will contact you direct.
Make your Austrian business a success!