KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Austria in 2024?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Austria in 2024?
Tramways and vehicles drive past as the facade of the Austrian Parliament is illuminated with a light installation by Austrian visual artist Victoria Coeln, showing grids and multiple colours, to represent diversity, freedom, dignity and rights for all, in Vienna, Austria, on November 14, 2023. - On selected days between November 8, 2023 and January 28, 2024, the artist will illuminate the Parliament's facade in the 'Light of Human Rights', in different colours. (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP)

From the choice of a new chancellor and changes in the tax laws that will save you money to new train routes and the holidays, here's what you need to know about life in Austria next year.


Austrian federal elections

This will be the big one. Sometime in autumn 2024, Austrian citizens will elect a new National Council (the country's parliament) and, therefore, a new chancellor. After the elections, all 183 seats in parliament will be allocated, and parties need at least 92 for a majority. In Austria, government coalitions are more common than absolute majorities.

The country is currently led by a coalition between centre-right ÖVP and left-party Greens, with Chancellor Karl Nehammer leading his People's Party again in the campaign for the federal votes. Since the last election in 2019, the frail coalition has suffered blows and is far from being favourites next year.

The latest opinion polls have shown the far-right FPÖ - and its head Herbert Kickl - leading with up to 32 percent of voting intentions. They are followed by the centre-left SPÖ, which now has Andreas Babler as the leader after a troubled internal election process. The ÖVP trails behind with some 22 percent, followed by the Greens and the liberal NEOS, both with 9 percent.

Austria's main parties had been adamant that they wouldn't form a coalition with a party with historical Nazi ties. However, the ÖVP has already partnered up with the FPÖ in local and regional elections, and the party has been softening its speech, claiming they wouldn't form an alliance with Kickl, the leader of the FPÖ, but falling short of dismissing the entire party.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do Austrians elect their chancellor?

The end of 'cold progression'

Austria announced a significant tax reform in September 2023, and the effects will be valid from 2024, as The Local reported.

From 2024, there will be no more "cold progression, “ meaning that tax brackets will be adjusted based on inflation rates. Before, people were taxed on income based on the brackets (they were exempt for amounts below €11,000, for example). Now, the brackets will change to account for inflation. 

So, the basic amount will be raised to €12,816, which means that anything below that point will be tax-free in Austria. 

With the bracket increases, people will pay a 20 percent tax on any income between €12,816 and €20,818 per year.

Other tariff levels are increasing as well, though, by anywhere from around seven percent to close to ten percent.

Income between €20,819 and €34,513 will see a tax of 30 percent. Between €34,514 and €66,612 will be taxed at 40 percent. From €66,613 to €99,266 will see a 48 percent tax rate.

Any earnings above that ceiling will be taxed at 50 percent.

READ ALSO: How high is the tax burden in Austria compared to other countries?


Tax allowances are going up

Child allowances – which provide tax relief to lower-income families – will see a raise from €550 to €700 per year.

Childcare subsidies from employers – for example, if the employer provides a daycare – are currently taxed in Austria, although the first €1,000 comes tax-free. The government plans to up this to €2,000.

The government’s tax reform plan will also see deduction amounts automatically adjusted to 100 percent of the inflation amount instead of the current two-thirds. This means that tax credits people can claim on their yearly returns – such as the single earner, single parent, and dependent tax deductions, as well as transport and pensioner tax credits – will rise with inflation.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about filing taxes in Austria

Pictured is a television (Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash)

New 'ORF contribution' replaces GIS

The much-hated GIS fee the one homes with a radio or TV connection have to pay to support public broadcaster ORF is coming to an end. However, it may be replaced by an even more controversial payment, the new 'ORF contribution'. 

This payment will have to be made by all households, regardless of whether or not they have TV and radio connections - many people would just resort to using projectors and monitors instead of TVs if they only stream their content, avoiding the GIS payment. The change was necessary after Austria's Supreme Court judged the GIS unconstitutional, as those who didn't pay the fee still had access to ORF content via the website and streaming platforms.

Instead of adding a paywall, the federal government agreed on a "payment for all" solution. The fee amounts to €15.30 a month and then includes a provincial tax to finance local cultural endeavours, so the final tab will be different depending on the state. Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg and Vorarlberg announced they'd waive their state tax.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Austria’s new ORF/GIS TV fee


Budget cuts for AMS

The Public Employment Service (AMS) will have a decrease in public funding in 2024, as The Local reported.

The active labour market policy subsidy budget is expected to decrease to €1.1 billion from €1.3 billion in 2023. This is due to the end of special programs such as the “Aktion Sprungbrett” for the long-term unemployed and the expectation of fewer unemployed people.

The subsidy budget finances, among other things, qualification, counselling and support services, wage cost subsidies for companies and temporary employment in non-profit labour leasing or socio-economic enterprises. Unemployment benefits and unemployment assistance are insurance benefits paid out of unemployment insurance – so they wouldn’t be affected. 

The AMS expects the average subsidy per capita to fall to €3,929 in 2023 and to €3,516 in 2024.

READ ALSO: How long do I have to work for in Austria to get unemployment benefits?


Rent brake - but not for all

The federal government announced a rental brake lasting for three years, from the beginning of 2024 to the end of 2026, and will limit annual increases to a maximum of five percent.

Old buildings are particularly affected, with the cap applying to almost anything built before 1953. In addition, it applies to any subsidised or social housing. Newer rental buildings may fall outside the cap, at least at first.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What we know so far about Austria’s planned rent cap

New train routes

Austria will have several more train connections and new routes - many already beginning in December 2023.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) ICE trains have initiated a new daily route between Berlin and Vienna, passing through Nuremberg. Plans include an extension to Hamburg in 2024, directly linking Vienna with one of Europe’s largest ports.

DB and the Austrian rail operator ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen) have collaborated to introduce an additional daily ICE service between Berlin and Innsbruck, which will travel through Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

Further night trains are set to operate between Vienna and Berlin, continuing to Paris and Brussels. From December 10th, these trains will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, transitioning to a daily service at the start of 2024. The new timetable will also allow travellers to reach Warsaw from Vienna by extending ÖBB’s ‘Nightjet’ services.

READ MORE: The new train routes connecting Austria to parts of Europe in 2024


Several holidays and long weekends ahead

Austria is very generous regarding holidays, offering more than ten every year. In 2024, many will fall near the weekend, with opportunities for people to enjoy a bridge day or, as Austrians call it, a "window day".

Some examples include New Year's Day on Monday, January 1st, Labour Day on Tuesday, May 1st, and St Rupert's Day on Tuesday, September 24th.

READ MORE: Which days off will workers in Austria get in 2024?

Plus, it is always nice to know the school vacations ahead of time: the February semester break takes place from February 5th to 10th in Lower Austria, Vienna, and Vorarlberg; from 12th to 17th in Burgenland, Carinthia, Salzburg, and Tyrol and from 19th to 24th in Upper Austria and Styria.

Easter vacation is from March 23rd to April 1st, and in May, pupils get a couple of days off from May 18th to May 20th. 

Summer vacations are from June 29th to September 1st in Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Vienna and from July 6th to September 8th in Carinthia, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg.


EES border systems to enter service 

The EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES) is a digital framework designed to record non-EU citizens' entries and exits each time they cross the external borders of the Schengen Area, regardless of whether it's through air, land, or sea.

Intended to replace the traditional passport stamping, the EES will maintain an electronic record of entries and exits, capturing details such as the individual's name, travel document type, fingerprints, facial images, and the arrival and departure dates and locations.

One of its primary objectives is to enhance border security, which includes monitoring and enforcing the regulation stipulating a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period for short-term visitors.

Expected to be introduced between the third and fourth quarters of 2024, the EES will be followed, approximately six months later, by the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). The ETIAS will mandate individuals from visa-exempt countries planning short stays in the Schengen area to obtain authorization before their departure.

While the EES is anticipated to be implemented by 2024, the ETIAS is scheduled to launch a year later, in 2025.



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