Brussels, 19 March 2009
Direct taxes: The European Commission requests that Austria end discriminatory tax treatment of donations made in the field of science and research
The European Commission has formally requested that Austria change its tax provisions which give more favourable tax treatment to science and research donations made to non-profit institutions established in Austria or conducting activities for the benefit of Austrian science or the Austrian economy . The Commission considers these rules to be incompatible with the freedom to provide services and the free movement of capital. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in Article 226 of the EC Treaty). If there is no satisfactory reaction to the reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
Two aspects of the Austrian rules regarding donations in the field of science and research are challenged by the Commission.
Firstly, donations to certain institutions established in Austria such as universities, art colleges or the academy of science, may be recognised and deducted as operating expenses by any person making such donations, while donations to comparable institutions in other countries may not be deducted.
Secondly, without taking the place of establishment into account for certain other donation recipients engaged in research or educational activities, the donations are only recognised as deductible expenses if the related activities are carried out for the benefit of Austrian science or the Austrian economy.
The Commission is of the opinion that by restricting the tax deductibility of donations to institutions performing research and educational tasks established in Austria, Austria has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 56 of the EC Treaty and Article 40 of the EEA Agreement, i.e. the free movement of capital. Furthermore, by restricting the tax deductibility of donations to legal persons performing educational or research activities essentially for the benefit of Austrian science or the Austrian economy, Austria has failed to fulfil its obligations under Articles 49 and 56 of the EC Treaty and Articles 36 and 40 of the EEA Agreement, i.e. the freedom to provide services and the free movement of capital.
The Commission's case reference number is 2007/2079.
For the press releases issued on infringement procedures in the taxation or customs area see:
For the latest general information on infringement measures against Member States see: