Raab/Blümel: "Through FABIAN, we are making family allowance as straightforward as possible" Since March, the procedure for family allowance applications via FinanzOnline has been simplified, with the once-only process being further expanded

"Precisely during times of crisis such as these, it is important to relieve the burden on families as much as possible, bearing in mind that everyday life is already difficult, and to minimise any potential bureaucratic hurdles. For this reason, with effect from March, we have reconfigured the process for applying for family allowance via FinanzOnline, making it more user-friendly," explain Families Minister Susanne Raab and Finance Minister Gernot Blümel, gratified at these innovations.

"The form fields to be completed are better displayed, and now it is possible to upload directly to FinanzOnline attachments such as confirmation from schools or documentary evidence of further education studies. In future, therefore, this type of documentary evidence no longer needs to be sent separately to the tax administration," adds Minister Blümel.

FABIAN – the new acronym for the new family allowance

"In the background, we are working continuously on further developing and improving work processes so as to process more simply and efficiently the wide range of applications relating to children in the country, who number around 1.9 million. The program FABIAN, which we are implementing jointly with the Ministry of Finance, is a German acronym signifying 'Family Allowance Information', and its aim is to structure family allowance in Austria in such a way that it is as straightforward as possible for Austrian citizens, stresses Families Minister Raab.

Already, through automatic family allowance on the birth of a child, the tax administration has begun to take important simplifying steps for families in Austria, who number around 1.1 million. Every year, approximately 85 000 children are born in Austria, and since May 2015 they have been receiving transfer of family allowance automatically and without the necessity of making an application.

Indeed, what very few people know is that families in receipt of family allowance come from a whole range of different circumstances; for example, in 2020, depending on their situation, there were around 5 400 different possible amounts of family allowance per child and per month. In the pandemic year 2020, around EUR 4.1 billion was awarded in family allowance payments, with the average processing time totalling 27 days.

Additional simplifications through 'once-only' principle until the end of 2022

A further objective of FABIAN is to create as many interfaces as possible with a wide range of data sources, on the one hand in terms of existing data within the administration, and on the other hand linking to information from other authorities, such as schools. This means that families will not need to undertake repeat notification of their data everywhere, but will have to do it just once; the aim is that information exchange takes place on a daily basis in a single 'basic data world', minimising the work involved for the individual.

"We have already taken an important step; the daily reconciliation undertaken by the tax administration with the central residential register enables FABIAN to process up-to-date registration data. In this way, for example, we will be able to drastically reduce the ratio of returned correspondence due to undeliverability, and also to significantly cut our processing times," explains Blümel.

"In a subsequent stage, by the end of 2022 we aim to set up key interfaces to schools, universities or apprenticeship offices. In this way, it will be possible to automate the transfer of important information relating to receipt of family allowance between individual authorities and institutions, thereby relieving mothers and fathers of the burden of arduous bureaucratic processes," concludes Raab.