Austria’s Kurz pledges less tax for workers, more for multinationals

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wearing a face mask leaves during a session of the parliament at the temporary parliament building at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, 3 April 2020. [Christian Bruna/EPA/EFE]

Austria, now easing its coronavirus lockdown, will ensure key workers pay less tax while multinationals should pay more as it seeks to accelerate the revival of its economy, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a televised address on Monday (27 April).

His government, a coalition between ÖVP (EPP-affiliated) and the left-wing Greens, has already pledged up to €38 billion in aid – around 10% of last year’s economic output – to keep firms afloat and prevent layoffs in the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on the 75th anniversary of the founding of Austria’s Second Republic in the dying days of World War Two, Kurz said more than €14 billion had already been paid out and he hinted at additional fiscal measures to come.

“Whether care workers, security forces, supermarket employees or many others – whoever works hard should in future have more in their pocket. That is a question of social justice but also in times like these it is also necessary to stimulate domestic consumption,” Kurz said.

While pledging to pursue plans to cut taxes for low and middle incomes, he said he would also press multinationals to pay more tax. Austria already has a 5% digital tax on large international firms’ digital advertising revenue, targeting internet giants like Google and Facebook.

“At the national and European level, we will fight against all forms of tax evasion and against unfair tax practices of large companies, because everyone should pay their fair share, particularly in times like these,” Kurz added.

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