Austria: The introduction of cash registers from May 2016

Werner Braun

In Austria, companies that exceed a certain amount of sales have to use a cash register from the beginning of May, 2016. The following article gives a detailed overview of the situation.

There were, and still are, long discussions about the obligations of the introduction of cash registers in Austria. Some small entrepreneurs even filed against the mandatory introduction of cash register at the Constitutional Court. Entrepreneurs have justified this submission in that the mandatory use of cash register is inconsistent with the constitutional right to the inviolability of property and that it also violates the constitutional right of free choice of employment, freedom of trade and other economic activities. They further submitted that it would impose a disproportionate financial burden for individual entrepreneurs. The Constitutional Court expressed its opinion in March, but did not accept this view.

“The cash register reduces the possibility of manipulation”
According to the Constitutional Court, the cash register is an appropriate tool for the reduction of the manipulation with revenues and, thus, a prevention against tax evasion, and that this is in the public interest. Even for small businesses, the introduction of cash register does not represent inadequate restrictions on their constitutional right of free choice of employment, freedom of trade and other economic activities.

The amount of sales determined in 2016 is the deciding factor on the obligation to introduce cash registers
All companies exceeding annual sales of 15 000 EUR and cash transactions of 7 500 EUR in January 2016 need to use an electronic cash register system from the beginning of May 2016. The use of an electronic cash register is mandatory as of the fourth month from the VAT reporting period exceeding the above mentioned thresholds. If such an amount of revenue has been generated in February 2016, the entrepreneur must start using the cash register from June 2016. Austrian Minister of Finance Mr. Hans Jörg Schelling, last week, announced that the amount of revenues could be eventually increased up to 30 000 EUR.

VAT payers with a quarterly tax period with lower revenues may (still) wait
If the VAT payer submits a quarterly return and reaches the specified amount of revenue by March 2016, he has an obligation to establish a cash register from July 2016. On the other hand if he generates the specified amount of revenue by June, the obligation to introduce the cash register shifts to October 2016. If the entrepreneur generates even less revenue and reaches the specified amount of sales by September 2016 then he must start using the cash register on the 1st of January, 2017.

Taxable period: quarterly or monthly?
If the company’s revenues exceeded the amount of 30 000 EUR in the previous calendar year, it must submit the VAT returns quarterly. All companies whose sales exceeded 100 000 EUR must submit the VAT returns monthly.

Obligation to issue a receipt from the 1st of January 2016
Irrespective of the obligation to introduce cash registers, every entrepreneur in Austria (for vending machines as of the 1st of January, 2017) must issue a receipt from the 1st of January, 2016. i.e. that the buyer must obtain a receipt for his purchase of goods with every cash payment,. Which information must the properly issued document contain? The minimal requirements are: company name, document number, date of issue, amount and normal commercial designation and the amount of cash payment. The entrepreneur is obliged to issue a copy of each receipt and to keep the document for seven years.

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