Blümel: 2021 to bring biggest reform in the Tax Administration--better service for individuals and businesses Six nationwide authorities bundling resources and know-how, customer service to be expanded

Vienna (OTS) - 1 January 2021 saw implementation of the Tax Administration's biggest-ever administrative reform. "Through enacting this reform, we are enhancing service quality and optimising processes in the Tax Administration. For individual taxpayers, the reform will mean improved processes and faster procedures. The economy will benefit from more efficient audit and control processes, as well as a more targeted approach to identifying those attempting to cheat the system. In future, each agency of 'Tax Office Austria' will process tax files on a nationwide basis, enabling the better use of resources and the easing of pressures on capacity. In an initial stage, this will be introduced for employee tax assessment. At the same time, the regional locations, as well as the existing high level of local service, will be preserved," commented Finance Minister Gernot Blümel on implementation of the reforms.

The previous structure of the Austrian Tax and Customs Administration had existed for over 15 years. During this time, requirements in terms of administration have changed. The digitalisation of society, internationalisation of the economy and the increasing complexity of legal systems have all driven this change. Moreover, expectations of taxpayers in terms of service level and ease of access to the Administration have significantly changed too. With effect from 1 January 2021, there is now just one 'Tax Office Austria', a single 'Customs Office Austria', an 'Anti-Fraud Office', a 'Tax Office for Large Companies', the service authority 'Central Services' plus the 'Audit Service for Payroll Taxes', established in 2020. Existing resources will be bundled in these six higher-level authorities.

Bundling of resources and know-how

The removal of local competence enables a more even distribution of work across staffing capacities, above all in bulk processes such as employee assessment and family allowance. Previously, 40 tax offices and 9 customs offices each formed a single tax and service authority with separate areas of competence. In addition, specific organisational entities existed, such as the Large-Scale Auditing Unit, the Financial Police and the Tax Investigation Agency. As a result of the current reforms, the regional locations will be retained in order to provide local know-how and local contacts.

Innovations in customer service

The Tax Administration will continue to expand its customer service provision through 2021. In particular, the telephone ringback service is to be expanded; this means that, where there are lengthy waiting times, callers will be able to submit a ringback request and then be called back. The arrangement of personal customer contact will also be expanded in future by offering online appointment booking via chatbot 'Fred'. In addition, smoother authentication processes will be offered via FinanzOnline. This will additionally enable information to be provided on a personal basis. Access to FinanzOnline is also to be further expanded and made easier. "We are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalisation, automating numerous procedural steps and ensuring a more even distribution of work across our staff. In this way, in future, we will work substantially more efficiently, thereby further enhancing the high quality of service provided and guaranteeing taxpayers a modern, citizen-friendly tax administration going forward," declared Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

New management

Tax Office Austria is headed by Siegfried Manhal. He began his career in tax administration at the Linz Tax Office. Having had various roles in the Large-Scale Auditing Unit, he became head of the Gmunden Vöcklabruck Tax Office. Subsequently, from 2009, he worked as regional manager for the central region and then, from December 2015 until February 2017 and from September 2018 until February 2019, he was interim head of the Freistadt Rohrbach Urfahr Tax Office.

The new head of Customs Office Austria is Heike Fetka-Blüthner, who initially joined the Tax Administration at the Graz City Tax Office, later transferring to the Graz Customs Office. Having worked as a technical specialist in the customs and excise duties division from 2003, in April 2007, Fetka-Blüthner was appointed head of the Graz Customs Office.

Alfred Hacker heads the Anti-Fraud Office. He gained his initial experience in the Tax Administration at Tax Office 8/16/17. Hacker then worked at the Vienna Tax Office, and then, from 1992, as deputy head of the crime and investigations division. In 2003, Hacker was appointed a full-time member of the Independent Finance Senate. Two years later, he was appointed head of division I/8 at the Ministry of Finance. He also worked as interim head of the Audit Service for Payroll Taxes until 30 September 2020.

The service authority Central Services is being headed from the beginning of this year by Dr. Christian Hammerl. In 2006, Hammerl joined the Financial Service at the Vienna 1/23 Tax Office and, in 2007, moved to the Finance Ministry's income tax and corporate income tax division. Over the past five years, Hammerl, a lawyer, has headed the Federal income tax and corporate income tax department.

Sabine Schloffer-Stampler has been appointed head of the Tax Office for Large Companies. Schloffer-Stampler has worked for the Tax Administration since 1991. She was first engaged at the Leoben Tax Office, later transferring to the Graz Large-Scale Auditing Unit, where she subsequently became deputy head of division. In 2009 she was appointed team leader and, from 2013, additionally worked as regional manager for the southern region.

Edith Madlberger-Schmidt heads the Audit Service for Payroll Taxes. She joined the Tax Administration on 1 January 1995, completed her training at the Oberwart Tax Office, and then transferred to Eisenstadt, where she held various executive positions (head of tax assessment, head of statutory audit). From 2002, Madlberger-Schmidt worked within the newly-established department at the Bruck Eisenstadt Oberwart Tax Office, with responsibility for VAT, where she held the position of technical head from 2004.