Full text: Taxation of foundations in Europe

9 entrance tax continues to apply upon the donation of assets to the benefit of the foundation, the initially fixed rate of this tax, which was meant to replace the estate and gift tax, was halved from 5% to 2.5%. In comparison to the advantages still offered by private foundations, the foundation entrance tax seems moderate indeed, and in practice, it will not prevent pro- spective founders from establishing a private foundation in Austria. Foundations seem to remain very attractive as they offer far-reaching advantages compared to those enjoyed by individuals or corporations. Given the tax-exemption of equity income from shareholdings at the level of the foundation in many cases and the reduced tax rate of 12.5% applicable to the majority of the remaining capital income, foundations offer considerable tax advantages if profits are retained in the foundation. In contrast, individuals realising the same income are in principle immediately subject to a capital income tax in the amount of 25%. At the level of foundation beneficiaries, the capital income tax has to be paid only upon effective receipt of payments; and any reduced tax rates levied at the level of the foundation are offset against the capital income tax to be paid by the beneficiaries. Moreover, in many cases, private foundations provide some possibility to achieve virtual tax-exemption for capital gains on the disposal of assets. This is not possible for individuals having realised comparable capital gains. At the end of 2007, there were approximately 3,000 private foundations in Austria, with esti- mated assets of EUR 60 billion.4 4 Der Standard, 18/12/2007, p. 17 et seq.

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