Electronic correspondence with Austrian authorities and (tax) offices is probably one of the most important steps in digitization in the public sector. The digital transmission of official documents is referred to as electronic delivery (“e-delivery”) and has been governed in the E-Government-Act (“E-Government-Gesetz”) since the beginning of 2020.
Electronic communication with public authorities is carried out through the following platforms that are either or accessible for individuals and entrepreneurs:
However, shifting the communication with authorities to the internet raises many questions, such as the legal consequences associated with e-delivery.
In principle, notifications are sent by e-mail as soon as a new document is available in the inbox of the participant. It should be noted that a notification by e-mail is merely of a service character. Aa notification is deemed to have been received in FinanzOnline as soon as it can be accessed, even if the participant has not become aware of the notification itself. If the e-delivery of the document remains unnoticed, deadlines (eg deadlines for appeals) may elapse.
In the following we give you an overview of different groups of taxpayers and their possibilities for deregistering from e-delivery in order to avoid the risks described above.
For individuals who only earn income subject to wage tax, e-delivery is voluntary. The same applies to individuals who gain income from capital assets (eg dividends). If you do not want to use e-delivery, you should make sure to unsubscribe from the mentioned platforms or to object to e-delivery if it was automatically activated. After deregistration, the notifications will be delivered by postal mail.
E-delivery is automatically activated in FinanzOnline. If you would like to use e-delivery, you should provide a regularly used e-mail address in FinanzOnline in order to receive notifications of incoming documents. In addition, it is advisable to check your inbox regularly (eg monthly) for possibly delivered documents. An already active power of attorney for deliveries from the tax authority to the tax consultant is thereby not affected.
The E-Government-Act states that participation in e-delivery is mandatory for all entrepreneurs. For the definition of who is an entrepreneur under the E-Government-Act, the legislator refers to the Federal Statistics Act (“Bundesstatistikgesetz”). For entrepreneurs, ie people who generate business income, there has been an obligation to participate in e-delivery via the “Unternehmensserviceportal” (USP) and FinanzOnline since 1 January 2020. Excluded from the obligation are companies that had a turnover of less than EUR 35,000 in the previous calendar year, which means that there is no obligation to submit monthly VAT returns (“Kleinunternehmer*in”). In addition, the law provides other exceptions, which are in practice however of marginal relevance: Entrepreneurs who do not have an internet connection or the necessary technical requirements are exempt from the obligation. If none of these exceptions apply, an objection to e-delivery is no longer possible.
It should be noted that individuals who earn income from rental activities and leasing are also considered entrepreneurs according to the Federal Statistics Act. With regard to e-delivery, they are therefore obliged to register in the USP and at FinanzOnline. However, the exceptions described above also apply here (”Kleinunternehmer*in” or lack of technical requirements).
Many users are not aware of the consequences of a negligent handling of e-deliveries and digital government correspondence. An out of office / absence notice can be submitted by entrepreneurs in USP or by individuals on oesterreich.gv.at or in the app "Digitales Amt" for a limited time. During the time of absence, deliveries are made by postal mail. To be on the safe side, a power of attorney for party representatives is recommended so that legal deadlines will not be overseen. Our Deloitte experts are happy to advise you on any questions you may have in that regard.
Mag. Robert Rzeszut ist Partner im Bereich Steuerberatung/Tax Litigation bei Deloitte Österreich in Wien. Als Steuerberater betreut er sowohl große nationale und international tätige Unternehmensgruppen als auch Familienunternehmen und Privatpersonen. Er ist Experte für Abgaben-Verfahrensrecht und führt insbesondere komplizierte und umfangreiche Beschwerden und Revisionen an die Verwaltungsgerichte, an Höchstgerichte sowie internationale Verständigungsverfahren. Als zertifizierter Finanzstrafrechtsexperte ist er überdies auf Selbstanzeigen und finanzstrafrechtliche Verteidigung spezialisiert.