According to an opinion by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the reduction in family allowances introduced in January 2019 violates EU law. In a conclusion by the EU Advocate General Richard de la Tour, it is said that workers from other EU countries must be able to receive the same benefits and tax benefits in Austria as Austrian workers, regardless of the whereabouts of their children. Ultimately, they would contribute to the financing of the Austrian social and tax system in the same way as Austrian employees, said de la Tour.
In 2019 Austria introduced a mechanism to reduce the amount of family benefits, child tax credits and other tax benefits for families. This affects EU citizens who work in Austria but whose children live abroad. This is intended to adjust the family allowance to the actual living costs of the children living in other EU countries.
However, according to the EU Commission, this contradicts the EU regulations on the free movement of workers. The regulation not only violates applicable regulations, it is also discriminatory, according to the Brussels authority. After all, the reduction does not apply “to Austrian nationals who work for an Austrian authority abroad and whose children live with them there – although their situation is comparable.” The EU Commission filed a complaint with the ECJ in May 2020.
The ECJ opinions are opinions that the ECJ judges do not have to follow when making their decision. But mostly they do. A binding verdict will follow in the coming months.