Blümel: Crisis has left a big hole in the budget EUR 28 billion assigned to Covid measures in 2020. Over EUR 31 billion paid out or committed to date - receipts down by 8.4% on 2019, expenditures up by 21.8%

The latest monthly budget execution report for December, delivered to Parliament by the Federal Ministry of Finance, gives a provisional annual overview of the impact on the budget of 2020, the year of Covid-19. The government budget reflects on the one hand the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and, on the other hand, the higher expenditure resulting from assistance and investment measures taken by the federal government. "The effects of the pandemic will be felt both in society and in economic life for a considerable period of time, and are also clearly evident from a budgetary perspective. So far, the crisis has left a hole of EUR 22.5 billion in the federal budget. Revenues of EUR 73.6 billion are set against expenditures totalling EUR 96.1 billion. In total, for 2020 we budgeted EUR 28 billion to deal with the effects of the pandemic, of which EUR 20.8 billion has been paid out or granted as tax relief. The current amount either paid out or pledged on a legally binding basis stands at over EUR 31 billion," declares Finance Minister Gernot Blümel, commenting on the monthly budget execution report for December 2020. Receipts from January to December 2020 totalled EUR 73.6 billion and are thus EUR 6.7 billion, or 8.4%, lower than in 2019. This is almost entirely due to the fall in state and municipal taxes; in 2020, gross taxes, at around EUR 81.8 billion, were EUR 9.1 billion (-10.0%) lower than in 2019.

The biggest declines compared with the previous year were seen with corporate income tax, at around EUR 3.1 billion (-32.5%), value-added tax at EUR 2.5 billion (-8.3%), assessed income tax at EUR 1.9 billion (-39.5%), income tax deducted at source at EUR 1.2 billion (-4.3%) and mineral oil tax at EUR 0.7 billion (-15.4%). Only very few taxes showed increases in 2020 compared with 2019; these were tobacco tax (+5%), insurance tax (2.1%) and motor-related insurance tax (+3.1%). Set against this were expenditures from January to December 2020 totalling EUR 96.1 billion, thus EUR 17.2 billion or 21.9% higher than in the previous year. A significant portion of the additional expenditure was due to measures related to Covid-19. For instance, during the period under review, EUR 7.6 billion was required by way of additional expenditures in the area of employment, of which EUR 5.5 billion was for short-time working and EUR 1.1 billion for unemployment benefits and emergency assistance.

The latest Covid-19 report is also included in the monthly budget execution report for December. In 2020, expenditures of EUR 28 billion were earmarked for the Covid-19 crisis response fund, of which in the budget year 2020, EUR 20.8 billion constituted payments or tax reliefs granted. Up to 31 December 2020, for instance, EUR 911 million was paid out from the hardship fund via the Austrian Economic Chamber and AMA (Agrarmarkt Austria), EUR 240.3 million via the NPO support fund and EUR 260.7 million for the municipal fiscal package. Expenditure on the child bonus totalled EUR 665.3 million, and for turnover compensation during lockdown, as at 31 December 2020, a volume of EUR 1.9 billion had been paid out by COFAG. Within the framework of the Covid-19 crisis response fund, emergency assistance measures totalling EUR 1.8 billion were financed in 2020. These included the central procurement of medical products for the whole of Austria (EUR 170 million), procurement and services by the Austrian federal army (in particular the provision of mass testing for Covid-19, as well as the setting up of a Covid-19 warehouse – EUR 134.7 million), a special allocation to the long-term care fund (EUR 100 million), and additional funds for clinical research (EUR 20.7 million).

"We have assisted rapidly in the crisis and have continually further developed our measures. Taxpayers' money has been invested to save people's health, jobs and businesses. From the outset, we have been as accommodating as possible and as stringent as necessary. Our citizens can rely on the state, and 2020, the year of coronavirus, has confirmed that this is the case. The effects on the budget are tangible, but they cannot be avoided," summarised Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.