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The Exchange of Tax Information Portal is an initiative of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The Global Forum conducts peer reviews of its member jurisdictions' ability to co-operate with other tax administrations in accordance with the internationally agreed standard. The standard provides for exchange of information on request where it is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic tax laws of the requesting jurisdiction. Effective exchange of information requires that jurisdictions ensure information is available, that it can be obtained by the tax authorities and that there are mechanisms in place allowing for the exchange of that information. The Global Forum's peer review process examines both the legal and regulatory aspects of exchange (Phase 1 reviews) and the exchange of information in practice (Phase 2). The EOI Portal will track the development of these peer reviews, including changes that jurisdictions make in response to the Global Forum's recommendations.

Peer Review: Peer Review Report Phase 1 Legal and Regulatory Framework - Austria

This report for Austria has been published on 12 Sep 2011. You can buy this report, or browse it online below.

Skip directly to the Executive Summary. You may also want to view the tables of determinations and ratings.


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Determinations and Recommendations

Jurisdictions should ensure that ownership and identity information for all relevant entities and arrangements is available to their competent authorities. (ToR A.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is not in place.   Austria authorises the issuance of bearer shares by joint stock companies and European companies without having in place mechanisms for identifying the holders of those shares in all circumstances.  Austria should take necessary measures to ensure that robust mechanisms are in place to identify the owners of bearer shares. 
Information regarding the ownership of foreign companies incorporated outside the EU and that are resident for tax purposes in Austria may, under certain circumstances, not be available.  In such cases, Austria should ensure that ownership and identity information is available. 
Jurisdictions should ensure that reliable accounting records are kept for all relevant entities and arrangements. (ToR A.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.   In the case of fiduciary relationship, there are some uncertainties as regards the detailed obligations to keep accounting records where the Treugeber or settlor is not resident in Austria and assets held through the fiduciary are located abroad.  Austria should make it clear that reliable accounting records are kept in the case of fiduciary relationships in any situation. 
Banking information should be available for all account-holders. (ToR A.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Competent authorities should have the power to obtain and provide information that is the subject of a request under an exchange of information arrangement from any person within their territorial jurisdiction who is in possession or control of such information (irrespective of any legal obligation on such person to maintain the secrecy of the information). (ToR B.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   Restrictions on access to bank information provided for by Austria’s domestic legislation is currently overridden in respect of only 27 of the 90 signed agreements.  Austria should ensure that its competent authority has access to bank information in respect of EOI requests made pursuant to all of its EOI agreements. 
Regarding the scope of application of Austrian professional secrecy rules there are some uncertainties as to whether the existing rules may unduly limit access to information acquired by attorneys, accountants and notaries.  Austria’s professional secrecy rules should be clarified to ensure that they are only able to act as a bar to EOI when lawyers, notaries and accountants act in their capacity as attorneys or legal representatives. 
The rights and safeguards (e.g. notification, appeal rights) that apply to persons in the requested jurisdiction should be compatible with effective exchange of information. (ToR B.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   The Administrative Assistance Implementation Act of 2009 requires the prior notification of the individual concerned when there is a request for bank information and this prior notification procedure does not allow for any exception.  It is recommended that certain exceptions from prior notification be permitted (e.g. in cases in which the information requested is of a very urgent nature or the notification is likely to undermine the chance of the success of the investigation conducted by the requesting jurisdiction). 
Exchange of information mechanisms should provide for effective exchange of information. (ToR C.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   As a result of domestic law limitations with respect to access to information for EOI purposes generally and access to bank in particular, only 15 of Austria’s 90 signed agreements provide for effective exchange of information to the standard. Of these 15 agreements, 9 are in force.  Austria should ensure that all its agreements provide for exchange of information to the standard. 
Of the 27 agreements signed by Austria since its commitment to the standard, 12 establish identification requirements for the holder of information in Austria which are inconsistent with the international standard.  In line with its commitment to the international standard, Austria should ensure that the identification requirements in all of its new EOI mechanisms conform with the international standard. 
The jurisdictions' network of information exchange mechanisms should cover all relevant partners. (ToR C.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   Of the 90 EOI mechanisms concluded by Austria, only 15 meet the international standard.  Austria should continue to develop its EOI network to the standard with all relevant partners. 
Austria has not on all occasions successfully progressed negotiations to establish EOI arrangements when requested to do so.  Austria should actively work to progress negotiations and establish exchange of information agreements with all partners who are interested in entering into an information exchange arrangement with it. 
The jurisdictions' mechanisms for exchange of information should have adequate provisions to ensure the confidentiality of information received. (ToR C.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
The exchange of information mechanisms should respect the rights and safeguards of taxpayers and third parties. (ToR C.4)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
The jurisdiction should provide information under its network of agreements in a timely manner. (ToR C.5)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The assessment team is not in a position to evaluate whether this element is in place, as it involves issues of practice that are dealt with in the Phase 2 review.