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Austria.
Dynamic Business Location.

Support measures for companies affected by COVID-19

  1. Hardship-fund for EPU and micro enterprises
  2. Financial support to ensure the liquidity of companies
  3. Measures to reduce liquidity shortages caused by tax and social security contributions
  4. Corona short-time work

In order to mitigate the economic disadvantages resulting from the measures to prevent the spread of the 'Coronavirus', the following sectors should be financially supported:

  • Measures facilitating economic recovery
  • Mitigating the loss of revenue as a result of the crisis
  • Stimulation of the labor market

1. Hardship-fund for EPU, micro enterprises and new founders

In order to help affected companies through the crisis quickly and unbureaucratically, the Republic of Austria set up a hardship fund with a volume of EUR 2 billion. The payments from the hardship fund are a non-repayable, tax-free grant.
 
Support from the hardship fund can be applied for in two phases
 
  • Phase 1: Emergency aid
    Application possible as early as March 27, 2020 (until April 17, 2020) Immediate payment of
    • EUR 500 (annual net income between EUR 5,528 und EUR 6,000)
    • EUR 1,000 (annual net income from EUR 6,000)
  • Phase 2: From April 20, 2020 (until mid-December, 2020)
    Payments amounting to 80% of lost income up to a maximum of EUR 2,000 per month for six months.
  • "Comeback bonus" amounting to a maximum of EUR 500 per month for six months.
  • In total, a non-taxable subsidy of up to EUR 15,000 is granted.

Target group

  • One-person companies
  • Micro-enterprises with less than 10 employees (full-time equivalents), with an annual turnover or balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 2 million
  • New self-employed persons
  • Independent contractors and liberal professions
  • Shareholders who are compulsorily insured

Key prerequisites

  • Legally operated commercial company in the own name and on own account or independent professional practice of a freelance profession.
  • Registered office or permanent establishment in Austria.
  • Economically significant losses due to COVID-19 (no longer able to cover running costs or officially ordered ban on entering the premises or a drop in sales of at least 50% compared to the same month of the previous year).
  • Phase 1:
    Company foundation until December 31, 2019 (registration of trade license or commencement of business activity)
  • Phase 2:
    -  
    A minimum amount of EUR 500 per month is provided to all eligible persons. This also applies to young entrepreneurs who started their business after January 1, 2018.
    -  NEW: The period under consideration is extended to mid-December (previously September 15, 2020). During this nine-month period any six months can be chosen flexibly for the application, they do not have to be consecutive.
    - NEW: A "comeback bonus" of EUR 500 per month will be paid out (maximum total of EUR 3,000 for six months).
    The minimum payment per month is thus EUR 1,000 including the "comeback bonus" (EUR 6,000 for six months); a maximum amount of up to EUR 15,000 is possible, depending on the loss of sales.
    -   No maximum or minimum income limits apply.
    -   Multiple insurances as well as additional income are no criteria for exclusion.

Application

  • Online-application (German) via the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber
  • Applications can be submitted monthly in the period from mid-March to mid-December 2020.
  • Quick and unbureaucratic payment after positive feedback on the application.
 
Hardship-Fund Phase 2 (German)

2. Financial support to ensure the liquidity of companies

2.1  Corona assistance fund

The EUR 15 billion Corona assistance fund is aimed to support companies which are facing huge falls in turnover. Support from the corona assistance fund can be applied for with effect from April 8, 2020.

The focus is on companies (SMEs and large companies), which are confronted with major losses in turnover as a result of the corona crisis, and sectors which are particularly affected by measures such as entry bans, travel restrictions and bans on meetings.

The corona assistance fund has two instruments at its disposal:

  • Government guarantees for loans
  • Non-repayable grants

Loan guarantee of the Republic of Austria

Scope and amount

Federal guarantees are available for loans amounting to 90% of the loan volume. The upper limit is a maximum of three month's turnover or a total of EUR 120 milliond (this can only be increased in exceptional cases).

A loan interest rate not exceeding 1% is applied. In addition, guarantee fees of between 0.25 and 2% are charged in accordance with EU state aid law (depending on the size of the company and the term of the guarantee).

Maximum duration is 5 years and can be extended by up to 5 years.

Prerequisites

Location and business operations must be in Austria and there must be a liquidity requirement for the domestic location.

Application and issue of the guarantee

Single point of contact is the principal bank. Depending on the company, the application is forwarded to Austria Wirtschaftsservice (for SMEs), Österreichische Hotel- und Tourismusbank (for tourism companies) or Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (for large companies).

Through these three funding bodies, COFAG (Covid-19 Funding Agency) issues credit guarantees for loans granted by banks to companies. COFAG guarantees 90% of the loan amount.

Applications may be submitted from April 8, 2020. From submission to approval, complete applications will be processed within 7 working days. First payments should therefore be possible as early as April 15, 2020.

Grants to cover fixed costs

In addition to guarantees, companies particularly affected by the Corona crisis can apply for a fixed cost subsidy (e.g. for business premises rents, insurance premiums, interest expenses, operationally necessary payment obligations such as leasing rates, license costs, payments for electricity, gas, telecommunications, and expenses for perishable or seasonal goods which have lost 50% or more in value due to the Corona crisis.

Scope and amount

The tax-free and non-repayable federal grant is graduated and depends on the loss of turnover of the company during the period of the Corona crisis (between March 15, 2020 and its end):

  • 40-60% loss: 25% compensation
  • 60-80% loss: 50% compensation
  • 80-100% loss: 75% compensation

Fixed cost grants are limited to a maximum of EUR 90 million per company.

Prerequisites

  • Location and business operations must be in Austria and the fixed costs must have been incurred operationally in Austria.
  • The company has a slump in sales of at least 40% in 2020 during the corona crisis, caused by the spread of COVID-19.
  • Companies must take all reasonable measures to reduce fixed costs and maintain jobs in Austria.
  • Companies with more than 250 employees as of December 31, 2019 and companies in the finance and insurance sector are excluded.

Application and payment

Applications for the fixed cost subsidy can be made directly via the "FinanzOnline" access of each company. After an expert opinion in form of a plausibility check, which takes no longer than five working days, the applications are sent to COFAG for payment.
The fixed cost subsidy is paid out in three tranches. The application for the first tranche is possible from May 20, 2020. The second tranche can be applied for from August 19, and the rest from November 19, 2020. Companies with no seasonal goods can already apply for the remaining 2/3 from August 19, 2020.

2.2 Bridge Finance Guarantees Due to the Corona Virus Crisis

Support is provided to companies which have no or insufficient liquidity to finance current business operations due to the Corona crisis, or to companies which have been affected by loss of orders or market changes.

Funding agencies:

  • aws: for EPUs/SMEs (commercial and industrial), guarantee amount up to EUR 25 million
  • ÖHT: for SMEs in the tourism and leisure industry, loan amount up to EUR 1.5 million
  • OeKB: for large companies and export companies

aws - Bridging loans for EPUs/SMEs

The immediately implemented measures include a 100% guarantee rate for loans up to EUR 500,000 and a 90% guarantee rate for loans exceeding this amount.

Eligible costs are, for example, purchases of goods, personnel costs, insurance/leasing rates, rent, loan deferments.

Loans up to EUR 500,000 (loan amount can also be used in partial amounts)

  • Guarantee rate: 100%
  • Guarantee period: 5 years
  • Interest rate: 0% fixed p.a.
  • aws approval: within 24 hours
  • No aws guarantee fee
  • Guarantee can be granted if the company was not in economic difficulties (according to EU-definition) on December 31, 2019 and only got into difficulties afterwards, due to the Corona crisis)

Loans up to EUR 27.7 Mio. (aws guarantee liability maximum of EUR 25 million)

  • Guarantee rate: 90%
  • Guarantee period: 5 years
  • Interest rate: 1% fixed p.a.
  • aws approval: within 24 hours, for loans exceeding EUR 20 million within 48 hours on average
  • aws guarantee fee: 0.25% - 1%
  • No company in economic difficulties (see above)

Loans up to EUR 1.5 Mio.

  • Guarantee rate: 80%
  • Guarantee period: 5 years
  • Interest rate cap: variable
  • aws approval: within 24 hours
  • No aws guarantee fee

After approval of the guidelines by the European Union, applications for bridging guarantees for 100% and 90% guarantee rates can be approved by aws in a fast-track procedure from April 20, 2020.

Applications can be submitted online via the aws Fördermanager to the financing house bank.
AWS Fördermanager (German)
AWS Bridge Finance Guarantees

ÖHT - Bridge guarantees for companies in the tourism industry

Austrian Hotel and Tourism Bank (ÖHT) together with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism has expanded the Corona measures package for companies in the tourism and leisure industry and has developed new funding programs to maintain the liquidity of affected companies in tourism and to secure existing jobs.

Corona package BMLRT I:

  • Bridging loan up to EUR 500,000
  • Liability rate: 80%
  • Guaranteed interest rate: max. 2%
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Liability: Insolvency

Corona package BMLRT II:

  • Bridge loan EUR 500,000 - EUR 1.5 million
  • Liability rate: 80%
  • Guaranteed interest rate: max. 2%
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Liability: Insolvency

Corona-COFAG 100% guarantee (from the Corona aid fund)

  • Bridging loan up to EUR 500,000
  • Liability rate: 100%
  • Interest rate cap house bank: 0 % fixed (1st and 2nd year)
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Liability: Default of payment

Corona-COFAG 90% guarantee (from the Corona aid fund)

  • Bridging loan up to EUR 1.5 million
  • Liability rate: 90%
  • Interest rate cap house bank: 1 % fixed
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Liability: Default of payment

Submission only in agreement with the financing principal bank via the online portal of ÖHT (German).

Homepage ÖHT (German)

OeKB - Credit guarantees for large enterprises and export companies

Large enterprises:

OeKB is supporting Austrian large companies (more than 250 employees and annual turnover of more than EUR 50 million or total assets of more than EUR 43 million) with liquidity difficulties, caused by the Corona crisis, with loan guarantees for the bridge financing.

  • The loan amount is based on actual liquidity requirement and is capped at twice the annual wages of the company or 25% of annual turnover.
  • Alternatively: limit on the loan amount of EUR 120 million
  • Liability rate: 90%
  • Duration: 5 years

Applications can be submitted by the principal bank via OeKB's online tool (German) "Export Guarantees Online".

ÖKB Corona Aid: processes guarantees for bridge financing

Export companies:

Export companies can apply – in collaboration with their commercial bank – for a credit line of 10% (large companies) or 15% (SMEs) of their export sales with OeKB.

  • Credit amount up to a maximum of EUR 60 million per company
  • Liability rate: 50% - 70%
  • Condition: Existing export activity

Applications can be submitted via the exporter's respective bank.
ÖKB Corona Aid: EUR 2 billion credit line for exporters

3. Measures to reduce liquidity shortages regarding tax and social security contributions

3.1. Special tax regulations concerning Coronavirus

  • Prepayments of income or corporate income tax for 2020

Prepayments of income or corporate income tax for 2020 can be reduced or assessed amounting to EUR 0. In addition, there is the possibility to total or partial non-imposition of prepayments of income or corporate income tax for 2020.

Taxpayers which are affected by a loss of income due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus may apply for a reduction of prepayments for income or corporate income tax for the calendar year 2020 until the 31st of October 2020. The application can be filed via FinanzOnline. For taxpayers who do not use/have access to FinanzOnline, a template form is provided.

  • Tax collection

Taxpayers may apply to their tax office to defer the date of payment of a tax (deferment) or to grant payment in instalments. The application has to include specific facts of the taxpayer's individual circumstances of being affected. When processing the application the tax office has to take into account the specific situation that occurred in individual cases due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The application has to be processed immediately.

Taxpayers may apply to their tax office to reduce or not assess a fine for late payment. The application must include the taxpayer's specific circumstances of being affected and explain these credibly. When processing the taxpayer's application for a reduction or non-assessment of late payment fines, the tax office has to take into account that there is no gross negligence in the delay if the taxpayer's specific circumstances of being affected have been substantiated.

3.2. Social security contributions

Social security contributions for employees (ÖGK): Automatic deferment at the level of the social security carrier without any specific measures to be taken.

Social security contributions traders (SVS): Applications for deferred or instalment payments can be made with an informal email. The reduction of the current provisional contributions can be made via an online application.

4. Corona short-time work

EUR 12 billion were made available for the Corona short-time work model.
The new Corona short-time work model is a simplified, particularly attractive form of short-time work. It secures the continued employment of skilled workers and preserves the liquidity of companies - regardless of their size and respective sector in which they operate. Austrian jobs will be saved even in challenging times.

The new short-time work model includes major improvements compared to the former short-time work model. Access to short-time work will also be easier for those companies which have not used this instrument so far. The duration time for the application will be reduced to 48 hours, previously, more than six weeks were required.

Minimum income during short-time work

The following general key points will now be regulated by law:

  • During the entire reference period, working time and thus the related remuneration can be reduced by a maximum of 90 percent. However, a weekly working time of zero hours can also be agreed upon over a period of time.
  • The employer receives a short-time work grant provided by the AMS (Employment Market Service) which covers most of the additional costs incurred by a net compensation rate of 80-90% depending on the previous net income:
    • In the case of a gross salary of up to EUR 1,700, the remuneration amounts to 90% of the previous net salary.
    • In the case of a gross salary of up to EUR 2,685, the remuneration amounts to 85% of the previous net salary.
    • In the case of a gross salary of more than EUR 2,686, the remuneration amounts to 80% of the previous net salary.
    • For income up to the maximum contribution basis, the AMS covers the additional costs incurring for the employer in comparison to actual working time but not for the portions of income above the maximum contribution basis.
  • Within the context of extending short-time work, the employer has to document the fact that serious efforts were made to reduce current vacation time entitlements by three weeks. Previous vacation time and working time credits can also be reduced during the period of short-time work.
  • The application for short-time work grants can be submitted retroactively as of March 1, 2020. The Corona short-time work can be applied for a period of three months. If needed, an extension for additional three months is possible.

Details

Claudia Reisner

Info Management
+43-1-588 58-251
c.reisner@aba.gv.at

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