Please outline the work your firm
does and the ways in which you distinguish yourself in the provision of tax
advice. Perhaps provide a recent case study demonstrating your expertise.
THEISS is an Austrian law firm with offices in 13 countries in Central and
Eastern Europe (CEE). While our bread-and-butter business definitely
encompasses M&A, real estate and finance transactions, we also do tax and private client
work, which is my own area. In one case we are currently dealing with, we are
advising several non-Austrian pension funds who are in the process of acquiring
Austrian real estate and for whom we have prepared a tax ruling request. In
another case, we are advising a high-net-worth individual moving from Eastern
Europe to Austria and for whom we are analyzing various trust and holding
structures of his prior to immigration, lest there be any tax obstacles.
Please write a few lines about your
experience in the legal profession and the area that you are profiling (tax
law) in particular. This can include your professional memberships,
publications, awards, etc.
the head of the firm-wide tax team of WOLF THEISS, am admitted as both a lawyer
and a tax advisor and have degrees in business (from the Vienna University of
Economics and Business) and in law (from the University of Vienna) and a
doctorate in law (from the University of Vienna). For many years, I have had #1
rankings by Chambers and Legal 500. I am currently also the chair of the
Private Client Tax Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). In
this capacity I recently helped to organize a high-profile private client
conference in London in March (virtually a week before Europe shut down due to
COVID-19). I do a lot of publishing (for example, a book on crypto assets and
blockchains last year) and am an active user on LinkedIn.
Please briefly describe your
jurisdiction’s corporate tax regime, and any unique aspects that make it stand
resident corporations are subject to corporate income tax: A flat tax rate of
25% applies, with no additional state, provincial or local tax being levied.
There is a minimum amount of corporate income tax payable (in general EUR 1,750
p.a.). The tax base is generally the profit as shown in the financial
statements; however, where mandatory tax provisions deviate from financial
accounting rules, adjustments have to be made. Capital gains and losses are
treated the same as regular income. As a general rule, expenses incurred in
acquiring, securing and maintaining taxable income are tax-deductible. The tax
year is generally the calendar year; it is, however, possible to apply to the
tax authorities for permission to use a different tax year. Corporate income
tax returns have to be filed, on the basis of which corporate income tax is
assessed by the tax authorities. Quarterly prepayments of tax must be made.
What tax difficulties are commonly
encountered in your jurisdiction and how does your firm help to resolve them?
tax laws are getting more and more complex, and it is difficult to interpret
the rules. Thus, clients often need advisors to understand the tax obligations
they are facing. Also, often clients inadvertently make mistakes. Our firm
regularly assists clients in filing voluntary disclosures, which typically help
a client to avoid penalties for non-compliance.
tax perspective, to what extent is your jurisdiction an attractive location for
foreign investment (ie, what useful tax
treaties and tax advantages are in place)? How much interest have you seen from
acquirers/investors outside the country in recent years?
is indeed an attractive location for doing business: We are in the heart of
Europe, have a qualified workforce, excellent infrastructure, stable government
institutions, a rather good tax system and administration, many double taxation
treaties, an interesting research & development tax incentive, a liberal
group taxation system and the possibility to get tax rulings. In the last
decades, many multinationals have for these reasons moved their regional
headquarters to Vienna.
During the past decade, there has
been increased media attention on the issue of tax evasion. What are your
opinions on efforts to strengthen tax regulation, avoid loopholes, and the
crackdown on tax havens? Has this led to any interesting cases studies,
especially those that proved complex or challenging, that you could share with
global attacks on tax planning have made our work and our clients' lives more
complicated. We currently don't have a level playing field anymore; it seems as
if the balance of power has dramatically shifted in favour of the tax
How have you had to adapt your work methods in
light of COVID-19, in order to maintain your existing client relationships?
COVID-19 means that we now have fewer physical client meetings and fewer tax
conferences. I think we have grown comfortable using Zoom and other similar
What does your current workflow
look like – and what are some of the tax-related concerns that clients are
bringing to your attention as a result of the pandemic? If possible, please
provide a recent case study demonstrating your service offering in emergency
had a bit of slowdown in March, but are again fully up to speed. An interesting
COVID-19-related case we had concerned the leasing of a sanatorium to a public
body, which temporarily used the facility as an emergency hospital.
COVID-19 has impacted the current
tax guidelines (and deadlines), such as changes to due dates relating to tax
returns for the self-employed. What unique opportunities has this opened up?
of the COVID-19-related tax legislation is boring and just deals with filing
deadlines being postponed or interest payments being waived. There are,
however, also some international tax-related topics that are interesting, e.g.,
when individuals are stuck in quarantine in a foreign country and risk becoming
tax residents there, or when employees work from home and possibly thereby
create a tax liability for their employers.
How do you ensure a well-informed advisory scope for clients who are based in other jurisdictions, or have operations based overseas? For example, are you especially active in network events such as conferences wherein information is exchanged among member firms?
We publish a lot of material for clients on our website, in tax journals, in
books and on social media. Also, we do regular webinars and conferences for
clients. I am currently planning a three-day workshop on crypto assets, dealing
with tech, economics, legal and tax issues.