The legal foundation for financial accounting is the Austrian Commercial Code (UGB).
The following entities are obliged to carry out financial accounting regardless of their activities or size:
- Limited companies (private limited companies and public limited companies);
- Business partnerships without a natural person as general partner (e.g. limited partnership with a limited company as general partner).
All other enterprises with turnovers in excess of EUR 700 000 must carry out financial accounting (with the exception of farmers and foresters and persons who submit cash income statements).
The Austrian Financial Reporting and Auditing Committee has developed measures to reduce administrative costs for companies. These new measures involve the possibility of combining the corporate balance sheet with the balance sheet for tax purposes. The Committee would like to investigate this possibility in view of the reforms proposed by the German law concerning the modernisation of company annual accounts (Bilanzrechtsmodernisierungsgesetz).
Companies must keep proper, transparent records of all of their business-related transactions and the status of their assets.
When a company is founded and at the beginning of each fiscal year, it is required to keep exact records of its assets and debts as well as the value of these.
When a company is founded, it must record its opening balance and at the end of each fiscal year, it must produce proper annual accounts.
Austrian companies, that list their own securities on the stock exchange or for whom debt instruments are traded on the stock exchange must produce their consolidated accounts in accordance with the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards).
All other companies can choose between the UGB standards or the IFRS.
Retention and submission of documents
Companies must retain the following documents for seven years:
- books, inventories, opening balances, annual accounts together with the financial reports;
- consolidated accounts together with consolidated financial reports;
- received business correspondence;
- duplicates of sent business correspondence;
- posting documents.
Furthermore, these documents must be retained for as long as they are required for corresponding legal or regulatory proceedings in which the company is involved.
Auditing, disclosure and publication
Annual accounts, consolidated accounts, financial reports or consolidated financial reports must be audited by a public accountant or accounting firm.
Arrangements must be made to have annual accounts published in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung newspaper.
Annual accounts must be submitted electronically to the regional court and must be entered into the database of the commercial register (with the exception of companies with a turnover of not more than EUR 70 000). The regional court must supply the accounts in electronic form to:
- the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber;
- the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour;
- the Presidential Conference of the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture (LKÖ).
This does not apply to small-scale, limited liability companies (Article 221 Section 1 of the UGB).
Useful information is available from HELP, the Austrian government help service of the Business Service Portal USP.