Vienna. Austria’s parliament approved 3.8 billion euros (Dh15.4 billion, $4.2 billion) of tax cuts, pension increases and other measures in a marathon session that ended late on Thursday, with about a week to go before a national election.
The conservative and nationalist parties that governed in Sebastian Kurz’s failed coalition until May pushed parts of a tax reform they had launched before the collapse through the legislature in Vienna. Almost all parties backed a pension increase for next year that’s as high as 3.6 per cent for the lowest pensions.
Finance Minister Eduard Mueller, a technocrat in Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein’s interim government, said the tax cuts will cost a net 2 billion euros and are already reflected in the government’s plans for a balanced budget next year. The 1.8 billion euros needed for the pension hikes and other measures aren’t included in those plans, he said.
Austria goes to the polls September 29 in a snap election that was triggered by the fall of the government in May, following a lurid video that led to the resignation of the vice chancellor and a vote of no-confidence against Kurz and his government. Kurz is leading opinion polls ahead of the vote yet it’s unclear with whom he’ll govern.
The digital tax approved by parliament is in line with plans first presented in January. It consists of a 5 per cent levy on internet advertising revenue for large, international companies, new reporting duties for sharing platforms like Airbnb that are meant to ensure rental income is taxed more comprehensively, and the lifting of a VAT exemption for low-value goods from non-EU countries that targets online retailers from China.