National Council decides to support handovers in family businesses (PK0467/05/15/2024)

VIENNA (PK) – The new “grace period law” is meant to provide additional support to family businesses during the business handover phase. The National Council today spoke in favor of the possibility that entrepreneurs can apply in conjunction with the handover control through the tax office. This will help you avoid tax hassles. As with the finance committee, all parliamentary groups except the SPÖ voted for the law. SPÖ MPs argued that the law would unnecessarily weaken occupational safety regulations, which is why they could not approve it.

The “Radio Equipment Market Surveillance Act” implements the EU directive and ensures that from December 28, 2024 all smartphones, digital cameras, headphones, tablets or video game consoles must have identical charging ports. From April 28, 2026, it will also apply to notebooks. As part of this government proposal, adjustments have also been made to the Postal Market Act, which aims, among other things, to adjust transit times for delivering letters to international conditions. Approval was unanimous.

With the votes of all parliamentary groups except the FPÖ, the National Council approved a 50% increase in Austria’s allocation to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The grace period law aims to facilitate the handover of family businesses

The “grace period law” for family businesses during business handovers aims to increase legal and planning protection and support young entrepreneurs through the possibility of coming under the control of the tax office with simultaneous bureaucratic simplifications. An application to join a company exchange must be submitted in advance to the Austrian tax office. Among other things, approvals for commercial facilities should be handled in a more flexible manner. Application cannot be made until January 1, 2025 at the earliest.

Christoph Matznetter (SPÖ) said that the SPÖ tries to see the positive aspects of the law, but the meaning of some provisions is not clear. Simplifications of operating facility permits are insufficient. Given the decline in employee protections, the SPÖ cannot agree. Matznetter introduced a motion for a resolution from his committee that called for “real structural tax reform” that would tax more income from assets and reduce the burden on labor income. The motion did not get a majority. SPÖ Member of Parliament Selma Yıldırım (SPÖ) also said that the law contains some good provisions, but weakening employee protections is incomprehensible. He expects a lot of effort from tax offices, so the tax administration should also get appropriate resources.

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ÖVP Member of Parliament Peter Hoppner emphasized that Austria is a country of family businesses. It should make it easier to carry out business within the family by allowing the tax office to handover. It is intended to create legal certainty in the area of ​​taxation. Some expired duties will be removed. Safety standards will not be regulated, he said in the direction of the SPÖ. Law is the first step for others to follow. Gabriel Obernösterer (ÖVP) was pleased with the broad approval of the law. However, he did not understand why the SPÖ did not accept a law aimed at reducing bureaucracy.

The federal government has recognized the problem many family businesses are facing with handovers. He would have expected a regulation covering external business transfers and all legal forms. He did not understand why the GmbH company form should be disadvantageous. One of the reasons why the scope of application of the law is so limited may be the lack of resources of the financial administration. The FPÖ accepts the law, but sees several further steps needed.

Maximilian Linder (FPÖ) called for further reductions in bureaucracy for small businesses. The current law provides little relief. But he did not understand that the tax authorities had to spend an additional 3 million euros for this. Peter Wurm (FPÖ) also criticized what he saw as increasing bureaucracy and called for a “right to an analogous life”, which should be exercised specifically when using and participating in administrative, judicial and public services.

Elizabeth Gotze (Greens) said the law should remove barriers when businesses switch. Due to demographic change, 25,000 corporate relocations are expected in the next five years. He’s open to more suggestions for improvement, but there are important first steps. Simplification in business facility permits and support in tax matters are possible.

Gerald Locker (NEOS) said the legislation brings some small improvements. But he still doesn’t understand why the law, which cuts bureaucracy while shifting companies, would require 58 additional positions in finance. His parliamentary caucus colleague Michael Bernhard requested a government proposal from Economy Minister Kocher to abolish chamber levy 2 by September 1, 2024. This would reduce non-wage labor costs and sustainably reduce the burden on entrepreneurs, he argued. The NEOS motion for resolution did not find a majority.

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Austria regulates uniform standards for chargers and charging connections

The European Union has long worked to encourage manufacturers to use the same technology for charging ports and chargers for cellphones, tablets, headphones and other electronic devices. With the Radio Equipment Market Surveillance Act, Austria now complies with the EU directive on this topic. The purpose of “harmonizing the laws of Member States relating to the making available of radio equipment on the market” is to “harmonise charging interfaces and charging protocols for certain categories or classes of radio equipment with wired charging functionality across the EU”, in line with the EU’s discretion. The possibility to buy devices without charging adapters helps to avoid electronic waste. In practice, this means that most devices affected by the regulations will have to have a USB-C port by the end of 2024. The new rules will come into effect for laptops from 2026.

Franz Leonhard Eßl (ÖVP) saw it as an important step for consumers that electronic devices should now receive standardized chargers. This is a sensible move that shows that the EU can achieve improvements for its citizens. Eßl also changes the delivery times for international mail, i.e. adjustment to international standards and better structural conditions for Österreichische Post AG. In return, he expects the Postal Service to live up to its mandate as a global service provider.

Maximilian Lercher (SPÖ) saw the standardization of chargers as a sensible step forward. SPÖ Post AG expects to use the benefits it receives and the profits it receives in the interests of its customers and its employees.

“Cable problems are not healthy,” said Ulrike Fischer (Greens), because they represent environmentally harmful electronic waste. This can be reduced in the future with a balanced charger.

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Gerald Loker (NEOS) pointed to a necessary periodic review of whether Österreichische Post AG complies with its legal delivery mandate and found deficiencies here.

Angela Baumgartner (ÖVP) talked about a short novel with a remarkable effect. In addition to improvements for consumers, uniform charging ports for electronic devices will also make an important contribution to environmental protection.

Austria increases its deposit rate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by 50%

The Monetary Fund (IMF) is funded by deposits from national central banks. Austria will increase its allocation by 50% to 5.9 billion SDR from the current 3.9 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR). The background to this decision is that the IMF Board of Governors has decided to increase the national deposit quota by 50% while maintaining the existing relative quota shares. This is to reduce dependence on borrowed funds and strengthen the IMF’s role while maintaining the IMF’s lending capacity. The Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) is responsible for implementation.

The IMF was set up after World War II as a rescue package for states facing bankruptcy, Rudolf Daschner (ÖVP) recalled. Contribution ratio also determines vote share. An increase in the quota means that Austria will maintain its current vote in the future.

Petra Bayer (SPÖ) described monetary policy as a prime example of an issue where international cooperation is essential. Unfortunately, the Global South is still lagging behind. The UN should play a bigger role in fair funding, he said.

Jacob Schwarz (Greens) said the IMF has an important role as a “last resort” for states in emergency situations and it makes sense to support it.

Karin Doppelbauer (NEOS) also emphasized the IMF’s important role as an international safety net for the financial system. He supported the creation of the European Monetary Fund. He argued that it could strengthen Europe’s position internationally, along with necessary debt relief for EU countries. (Continuation of National Council) sox

Note: Meetings of the National Council and Federal Council can also be followed via live stream and are available as video-on-demand at the Parliamentary Media Library.

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