Austrians ‘pay too much tax’

A new OECD study of 34 countries shows Austrians pay the third highest level of tax, and there are calls from a number of groups for urgent and sweeping reforms.

Austrians 'pay too much tax'
Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger. Photo: APA

The average single Austrian taxpayer hands 49.1% of their income to the state, only slightly behind Germany (49.3%) and Belgium (55.8%). The OECD average is 35.9%, ahead of the UK (31.5%) and the US (31.3%).

Families have a lesser tax burden, however figures are still amongst the highest in Europe.

Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger, from the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), has said that wage increases are not the answer.

From a salary increase of 2.4%, inflation would swallow 2% and the rest would be taken by the Finance Ministry.

Spindelegger is insisting on structural reforms to the tax system. 

A number of groups, including the Austrian Trade Union Federation, the Christian Socialist Union and even ÖVP leaders in Tirol and Vorarlberg, are calling for tax cuts to begin in 2015.

The senior coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPÖ), said they are aiming for a tax reform by 2015.

According to an ORF television teletext on Thursday, Minister Josef Ostermayer of the SPÖ said it was good the Austrian Trade Union Federation was pushing for a reform with tax relief by next year, because "that is our goal as well."

"The sooner a tax reform is agreed upon, the better," said Ostermayer. He added that theoretically, changes in the wage tax could be retrospective.

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