Posted: 11 Mar. 2022 4 min. read

Party rights and record access regarding COVID-grant audits

Overview

The COVID-19 Subsidy Audit Act (hereinafter referred to as "CFPG") provides for an ex-post audit of subsidies granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic (eg fixed cost subsidies, sales substitution, loss compensation or short-time work subsidy). In the meantime, more and more of these ex-post audits are being carried out by the tax authorities through audits, inspections or accompanying controls. In these cases, the tax offices “merely” act as experts for the subsidy agencies and not in their function as tax authorities. However, in principle the same rules apply to grant-audits as to "classic" audit measures.

Partial application of the Austrian Fiscal Code

The provisions applicable to “classic” audits are also to be applied mutatis mutandis to grant-audits. Section 2 CFPG refers to specific provisions of the Austrian Fiscal Code (hereinafter referred to as “BAO”), which are to be applied within the framework of tax authority audit measures.

This means that an audit assignment must be issued for the subject of the audit (subsidy measure). In addition – as in all tax audits – the right of the parties to be heard during the subsidy audit must be ensured and a final discussion must be held on the results of the audit after it has been completed. The taxpayer, who has been granted the subsidy, must be summoned to this final discussion. Due to the partial application of the BAO, the expert opinion prepared by the tax authority must then be presented to the subsidy-applicant during the final meeting in order to ensure that the party is heard. The applicant must be given the opportunity to inspect and comment on it. A report must be prepared summarizing the final meeting.

In principle, an audit report is only to be issued if incorrect information (doubts as to its correctness) or other circumstances have been discovered which could cause the subsidy agency to reclaim the funding under civil law or file criminal charges. However, since a final meeting must be held anyway, the grant-applicant is entitled to have the fact that no findings were made in the course of the grant-audit recorded in the report of the final meeting, which in turn increases the legal certainty of the taxpayer to whom the subsidy was granted. In any case, the grant-applicant has a right to know whether any findings have been made. The subsidies claimed must therefore be discussed in the final meeting and any findings or non-findings must be recorded.

Conclusion

The CFPG is intended to provide for a retrospective review by the tax authorities for granted COVID-19 subsidies by means of an audit, inspection or accompanying control. Since these audits have been carried out, experience has shown that the reports prepared are often not submitted to the taxpayer for inspection. However, it is crucial that the grant-applicant has the right to inspect the expert opinion within the scope of the grant audit and he*she also has the right to be heard in this context. Our Deloitte experts will be happy to advise you on any questions you may have. 


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Mag. Robert Rzeszut

Mag. Robert Rzeszut

Partner Steuerberatung | Deloitte Österreich

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.

Victoria Turpin, LL.M. (Maastricht)

Victoria Turpin, LL.M. (Maastricht)

Consultant Steuerberatung | Deloitte Österreich

Victoria Turpin ist Berufsanwärterin in der Steuerberatung bei Deloitte Wien. Ihre Tätigkeitsschwerpunkte liegen im Abgabenverfahrensrecht, Rechtsmittelverfahren und Finanzstrafrecht.