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MONEY

‘I’m still waiting’: Foreigners in Austria still not been paid Klimabonus handout

Millions of residents in Austria were sent €500 one-off payment by the state to help them deal with the increasing cost of living. But many people (especially foreigners) who were entitled still haven't received their money.

'I'm still waiting': Foreigners in Austria still not been paid Klimabonus handout
Payments for the Climate Bonus are now complete, but round two will start in February 2023. (The Local)

The Klimabonus, a €500 one-off payment sent out by the Austrian government to (almost) everyone who lives in the country to help cushion inflation costs, has been a heated topic since it was first announced.

So far, more than 7.4 million people have received the bonus via a bank transfer, while more than 1.2 million got vouchers that could be redeemed in stores or for cash, according to the Climate Ministry. 

Anyone who has lived in Austria for at least 183 days during the year 2022 is entitled to the 2022 payment. People who only fulfilled the requirement in the second half of 2022 (newborn babies and recently relocated residents) will receive the total 2022 Klimabonus amount in the second wave of payments set for February 2023.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Is travelling to Austria this winter worth it?

However, many who have already fulfilled the criteria in the first semester are still waiting for their payments. One reader who asked not to be identified said: “I have lived in Vienna for over three years. I have a rental apartment, health insurance, and accurate financial information on FinanzOnline. I also have a Handy Signatur and a bank account at BAWAG PSK.”

“But I never received my Klimabonus or a voucher.” 

Igor Zuljic, a Croatian national who has lived in Austria for more than 30 years, is also still waiting to receive his payment. 

“I have been doing my Steuerausgleich every year. So they have my details and my bank account. I received money before from the Finanzministerium“, said the 37-year-old.

“I think it was just a huge administrative task that they just couldn’t perform because it was too massive”, he said.

Lack of transparency

The government said that some groups of EU citizens or third-country nationals were affected by “some problems with the automated entitlement check by the Ministry of the Interior”.

“​​Every effort is being taken to find a solution, please bear with us. You will receive your payment for 2022 in the second wave of payments starting February 2023)”, the authorities said.

The exact number of people affected is unclear, and the Ministry hasn’t replied to Austrian media asking the reasons for the delays, what exactly is being checked or whether there is a connection with the countries of origin. 

READ ALSO: Klimabonus: Payments complete for the Austria-wide scheme

Broadcaster ORF estimates that as many as 300,000 people could be affected. 

As the government said that around 400,000 people would receive a payment in February, the website removed the estimated number of people who moved to or were born in Austria in the first half of the year, about 100,000, to reach the 300,000 estimate.

A hard-to-reach hotline

The reader that reached out said she tried calling the hotline, but they would not talk to her as she doesn’t speak German.

“They said in English that they would only talk to me in German”, she said. Her husband got his Klimabonus via voucher early on, she added. 

READ ALSO: Klimabonus in Austria: What to do if you miss the pickup deadline for your voucher

According to the daily Der Standard, there are currently 140,000 “open tickets” in the Klimabonus “service centre” – though there could be double reports, so the number doesn’t necessarily equate to the number of people affected. 

The website reported cases of people finding the hotline often unavailable, not getting promised callbacks or simply being hung up on complicated questions.

The Ministry stated that the employees of the Klimabonus hotline receive regular training and that “various quality assurance processes” are in place.

What is the Klimabonus?

With rising inflation, mainly due to the increasing energy costs, people in Austria have seen their salaries purchasing less and less. Because of that, the federal government announced a €6 billion package with assistance, tax cuts and one-off payments.

The main (and somewhat controversial) payment is the so-called “climate bonus and anti-inflation payment”, better known as Klimabonus in Austria. Residents of the country will receive €500 to help cushion the effects of climbing prices. Minors are entitled to half that amount.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

The only criterion is that the recipient must have lived in Austria for at least 181 days in 2022 to be eligible for the payment. Your nationality or employment status doesn’t matter – if you have spent six months legally in 2022 in the country, you will get the money.

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POLITICS

How much do Austrian politicians earn as a monthly salary?

Politicians in Austria are getting a 5.3 percent salary increase in 2023 as inflation rises in the country. So how much will they earn?

How much do Austrian politicians earn as a monthly salary?

The rising inflation rate, which is expected to be at 10.6 percent in November, is reflected in the salaries of politicians in Austria, according to the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung.

According to Austrian law, all salaries are calculated based on the income of the members of the National Council, the Austrian Parliament. Next year, they will receive €9,873 gross per month – €497 more than their salaries in 2022. The values were rounded to the whole euro amount. 

READ ALSO: How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

So, how much are the leading politicians going to earn as a monthly gross salary in 2023?

  • Bundespräsident: the head of the Austrian State (Federal President) will earn €26,701 per month. Alexander Van der Bellen was reelected to the position and should stay in the job for six more years
  • Bundeskanzler: the head of the Austrian government (Chancellor) will earn €23,840 per month. That’s the salary of Karl Nehammer (ÖVP), who is expected to run for reelection in the next national elections set for 2024
  • Vizekanzler: the current vice-chancellor is Werner Kögler (Greens), and he is set to earn €20,979 from 2023
  • NR-Präsident: this refers to the leader of the National Council (Nationalrat, in German), who earns €20,026. Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) holds the position
  • Landeshauptleute: this German word literally means “main persons of the province”. (Land means country, but it actually refers to the bundesländer, the country’s states or provinces). These are the current governors of the Austrian provinces, such as Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), mayor of the city-state of Vienna. They’ll earn €19,072 per month
  • Ministerin/Minister: Ministers of the federal government, including Health and Social Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens), will earn €19,072 every month
  • Landesrätin/-rat: the provincial councillors should earn €17,771 every month from 2023
  • Staatssekretärin/-sekretär: State secretaries, who play the part of Ministers in the provincial level, will earn €17,165
  • Bundesratsmitglieder: a “member of the Bundesrat”, which is the upper house in the Austrian parliament, will earn €4,936 per month

READ ALSO: Explained: How to understand your payslip in Austria

In Austria, hired employees are paid 14 times per year, with extra salaries ahead of summer holidays and Christmas.

Unless the National Council decides against the pay rise, the increase will come into effect on January 1st 2023.

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