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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: Austria Phase 2 Review

This report for Austria has been published on 31 Jul 2013. 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.   Although Austria has put in place new provisions to prohibit the issue of bearer shares by unlisted joint-stock companies, the mechanisms to identify the owners of bearer shares previously issued by these companies may not be sufficient. In addition, until full effect is given to these provisions (1 January 2014), bearer shares can still be issued or transferred without identification of their holders.  Austria should introduce mechanisms ensuring the identification of the holders of bearer shares in all instances. 
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. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Non-Compliant.     
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 relationship are located abroad.  Austria should make it clear that reliable accounting records are kept in the case of fiduciary relationships in any situation. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
Banking information should be available for all account-holders. (ToR A.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
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 are currently overridden in respect of only 40 of Austria EOI partners.  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. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Partially Compliant.  Prior to the enactment of the ADG, Austria’s experience of exchanging banking information was very limited. The access to banking information measures provided by the ADG have not yet been tested in practice.  Austria should monitor access to banking information to ensure that it is in a position to exchange information in line with the international standard. 
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). 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Partially Compliant.  Austria does not have any practical experience of the new procedure to obtain banking information that it has put in place under the Administrative Assistance Implementation Act.  Besides the introduction of exceptions consistent with the international standard, Austria should, in instances where the prior notification procedure can be applied in compliance with the international standard, monitor the practical implementation of the procedure provided by the Administrative Assistance Implementation Act to ensure that it can meet its obligations to exchange banking information under its EOI arrangements. 
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 40 of Austria’s 92 EOI relationships for effective exchange of information to the standard. Of these 40 relationships, 33 are in force.  Austria should ensure that all its agreements provide for exchange of information to the standard. 
Of the 34 agreements signed by Austria since its commitment to the standard, 9 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. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Partially Compliant.     
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 92 EOI mechanisms arrangements concluded by Austria, only 40 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. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Largely Compliant.     
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.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Largely Compliant.  It is not clear as to how much information will be revealed to the taxpayer concerned by the Austrian authorities in order to answer an information request   Austria's should make sure that only the elements that are necessary to collect information from taxpayers will be disclosed during the process of answering an information request. 
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.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
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.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.  In a number of cases, Austria has not provided status updates within the 90 day period.  Austria should take measures to ensure that it provides status updates to its treaty partners within 90 days where a complete response to a request is not possible within that timeframe.