The Austrian Ministry of Finance released an updated version of the Stamp Duty Guidelines, which should clarify certain issues.
Austria imposes stamp duties on various transactions (such as sureties, leases or assignments). Such stamp duties are calculated as a percentage of the transaction amount (with no cap). Therefore, the stamp duties levied can reach serious amounts. Nevertheless, there is often the possibility to avoid stamp duties by using certain avoidance strategies (e.g., signing and keeping documents outside of Austria).
Ever since it came into force, the Austrian Stamp Duty Act (Gebührengesetz) leaves a great deal of scope for interpretation. This was the reason why the Austrian Ministry of Finance initially published the Stamp Duty Guidelines (Gebührenrichtlinien) in 2007. While they merely reflect the views of the tax authorities and are not legally binding, they are nevertheless very relevant in legal practice. Due to numerous amendments of the law, and since new questions have arisen in the meantime, the Austrian Ministry of Finance now decided to issue updated Stamp Duty Guidelines.
The updated guidelines will be applied to tax audits for past periods and to transactions in which the stamp duty liability was triggered before 20 February 2019, unless the previous guidelines contained more favourable rules.