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COST OF LIVING

What is the new cost of living ‘credit’ for self-employed people in Austria?

An "extraordinary credit contribution" will be applied to the next social insurance payment for eligible self-employed people in Austria. Here's what you need to know.

What is the new cost of living 'credit' for self-employed people in Austria?
Some eligible self-employed people will receive a cost-of-living "credit" in their next social insurance bill. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

As part of the Austrian federal government’s ongoing package of measures to cushion the impacts of inflation, some self-employed people will receive a credit in their next social insurance bill.

The aim of the scheme is to help low income self-employed people with the rising cost of living, and those eligible will receive between €100 and €500.

The one-time credit will be applied by SVS (the social insurance organisation for self-employed in Austria) to the next advance payments in Q4, which will be distributed in November.

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How much credit an eligible person receives will depend on their income and how much they pay to SVS.

If the SVS contribution base is €566, a credit of €160 will be applied to the Q4 payment. For contributions between €1,200 and €2,100, the credit will be €500. 

The credit amount is then reduced on a sliding scale to €100 for contributions of more than €2,100 and up to €2,900.

Those that pay more than €2,900 or less than €566 in social insurance payments are not eligible for the credit.

More information about the scheme and how much credit self-employed people can expect to receive can be found at svs.at.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How freelancers in Austria can pay four times less in social insurance

Eligible self-employed people for the scheme

Two types of self-employed people in Austria are eligible for the upcoming social insurance credit:

  • Those insured under the Commercial Social Insurance Act (GSVG) as of 31st August 2022. This includes traders, business partners, new self-employed and freelancers.
  • People insured under the Farmer’s Social Insurance Act (BSVG) as of 31st May 2022. This group includes operators of agricultural and forestry businesses and their family members who work full time in the business.

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COST OF LIVING

Cost of living: Why glühwein costs more at Vienna Christmas markets this year

Visiting a Christmas market in Vienna is a must-do seasonal activity. But this year – like everything else – it will cost more money. Here’s why.

Cost of living: Why glühwein costs more at Vienna Christmas markets this year

When buying a glühwein (mulled wine) at a Christmas market in Austria for the first time, you might be surprised at the price.

The good news is that the first cup of glühwein is not really twice the price – you have to pay the deposit (Pfand) for the mug, as well as pay for the drink. But the bad news is that this year the prices have gone up, especially the cost of the Pfand.

Viennese Christmas Markets operators are justifying the high deposit prices for the Christmas mugs with inflation costs, broadcaster ORF reported. 

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In some markets, the deposit can cost up to €5 (Stephansplatz market prices). A glühwein, for example, might be advertised as costing €4,90, but once you get to the stand, you will be asked to pay €9,90. 

“Inflation and the cost of producing the cups and also the logistics of the whole cleaning service have gone up a lot now, and that’s why the four euros,” explained Hannes Dejaco, who runs several large Christmas markets in Vienna.

How can I get the Pfand back?

The deposit for a glühwein mug is only temporary, so when you return the cup you get your €5 back. 

Most Christmas markets have a set area to return the mugs (called Pfand Rückgabe) and get your money back. But if not, simply return the mug to any stand that sells beverages.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: A guide to the main Christmas Markets in Austria

Of course, if you want to keep the mug as a souvenir, then it will cost the €5 that you paid for the deposit.

Finally, a top tip for anyone attending the markets for the first time: take cash.

Many Austrian businesses still like to operate in cold, hard cash and there’s no guarantee that the market you visit will accept card payments. So visit the ATM before heading for a glühwein.

Useful vocabulary

Mulled wine – Glühwein

Deposit – Pfand

Deposit return – Pfand Rückgabe

Cash – Bargeld / Bar

Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt / Christkindlmarkt

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