Austria

Member Organizations

Member Organization Associate

  Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer
  Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder

Legal and Regulatory Environment

  • Overview of Statuatory Framework for Accounting and Auditing

    As a member of the European Union (EU), Austria is subject to the accounting, auditing and financial reporting requirements established in EU Regulations and Directives as transposed into national laws and regulations. Austria has fully aligned its legal framework with the EU acquis communitaire as it relates to accounting and auditing.

    Accounting Framework

    In Austria, section 245a of the Austrian Commercial Code of 2015, as amended (Unternehmensgesetzbuch – UGB) stipulates the requirements for preparation of financial statements, including applicable accounting standards and financial reporting thresholds which are in line with the European Commission (EC) Regulation No. 1606/2002. Authority to set accounting standards in Austria rests with the government.

    EU-endorsed IFRS are required for the preparation of consolidated financial statements of all public interest entities (PIEs) in Austria, which comprise listed entities, credit institutions, and insurance undertakings. All other entities are free to choose to prepare consolidated financial statements in accordance with EU-endorsed IFRS or in accordance with Austrian GAAP as established in law. Although the Austrian GAAP and the principles in the framework of IFRS are very similar, they differ in their fundamental objectives as well as their strategic orientation and emphasis.

    Auditing Framework

    European Union member states had until June 17, 2016 to transpose the European audit reform package, comprising the Directive 2014/56/EU on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts), into their national legislation. At the same time, the Regulation (EU) No 537/2014 on specific requirements regarding statutory audit of public interest entities (PIEs) came into force. The Regulation is directly applicable law in all EU member states and overrides any national law on the same subject matter. The Directive requires auditors and audit firms in member states to apply international auditing standards adopted by the EU Commission which—as stated in the Directive—means ISA, ISQC 1, and other related standards issued through the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). While the German parliament adopted the EU audit reforms on March 10, 2016, the EU Commission has not yet adopted ISA.

    Pending endorsement of ISA by the EU Commission, the Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW) acts as the de facto audit standard-setter in the jurisdiction under the supervision of the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB). Effective June 2016, KSW adopted ISA as issued by IAASB for all mandatory audits. The Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP) supports the implementation of ISA through its collaboration with the professional accountancy organization in Germany—Institute of Public Auditors in Germany, Incorporated Association (IDW)—to translate the standards into German (2016 ISA 315 being the latest).

  • Regulation of Accountancy Profession

    In Austria, all segments of the profession are regulated at the state level. There is a distinction between public accountants and self-employed accountants.

    Regulation of Self-Employed Accountants

    The Accountants Act (Bundesgesetz über die Bilanzbuchhaltungsberufe – BibuG) and the Directive on Professional Practice are the two laws that set the regulatory framework for self-employed accountants. According to the law, self-employed accountants include Certified Management Accountants, Payroll Accountants, and Certified Accountants.

    Self-employed accountants and accountancy practices register with the Joint Commission, which has the authority to sanction or withdraw permission to practice if requirements are not met.

    To be officially appointed as any kind of self-employed accountant applicants must successfully complete the appropriate professional examination, which includes a written exam and an oral board exam, administered by the Joint Commission under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance. There are no pre-requisite educational requirements to sit for the exams. Applicants must have evidence of relevant work experience (three years for Certified Management Accountants, and one and a half years for both Certified Accountants and Payroll Accountants). Qualifications acquired elsewhere must be deemed comparable by the Joint Commission. All practicing registered accounting professionals are obliged to undertake 22.5 hours per year. The Joint Commission selectively verifies compliance with CPD requirements at the beginning of each year and imposes sanctions for cases of non-compliance.

    Regulation of Public Accountants—Certified Public Accountants & Tax Accountants

    The public accounting profession includes Tax Consultants and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), the latter being authorized to act as statutory auditors. Public accountants are regulated at the state level by the Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz – WTBG) of 1999 as amended in 2019. WTBG regulates the profession of CPAs and Tax Accountants including admission to and the nature and scope of the professional examinations. It also contains provisions on the Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW).

    The WTBG authorized the KSW to develop and issue the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie – WTARL) of 2003 (as amended) which stipulates ethical and CPD requirements. CPAs must complete a total of 120 hours, distributed over three years (with a minimum of 30 hours per year) in relevant advanced training courses, which can include private study (no more than 10 hours per year).

    In Austria, CPAs must have a relevant degree from a university as well as a minimum of three years of work experience as auditors-in-training registered with the KSW. After passing the examination and taking the professional oath before the Ministry of Finance, KSW issues a certificate to the candidate.

    The legal basis for the Austrian Quality Assurance and Public Oversight System is set out in the Austrian Auditor Oversight Act of 2016 (Abschlussprüfer-Aufsichtsgesetz – APAG) which establishes the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB) as the audit supervisory authority in the jurisdiction that operates under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance. APAB is responsible for registration of statutory auditors and audit firms; as well as quality assurance (QA) reviews for all mandatory audits; and investigation and discipline (I&D) of CPAs or public interest entities.

  • Audit Oversight Arrangements

    The Austrian Auditor Oversight Act of 2016 (Abschlussprüfer-Aufsichtsgesetz – APAG) establishes the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB) as the audit supervisory authority in the jurisdiction that operates under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance.

    APAB is responsible for registration of statutory auditors and audit firms; as well as quality assurance (QA) reviews for both public interest entities (PIEs) and non-PIEs; and investigation and discipline (I&D) of statutory auditors/firms or PIEs. All statutory auditors and audit firms that perform statutory audits in Austria are subject to quality reviews at least every six years. Auditors of public interest entities are subject to quality reviews at least once every three years. APAB is a member of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators and the Committee of European Auditing Oversight Bodies.

    In addition to the above, APAB oversees the operations of Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW) with regard to statutory auditors and audit firms. KSW was established by Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz – WTBG) as a mandatory membership organization for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

    Pending endorsement of ISA by the EU Commission, KSW acts as the de facto audit standard-setter in the jurisdiction under the supervision of the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB). WTBG authorized the KSW to develop and issue the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie – WTARL). In accordance with WTBG and WTARL, KSW is responsible for (i) administering relevant professional examinations; (ii) evaluating candidates’ fulfillment of all initial professional development requirements established by law; (iii) licensing CPAs (which are authorized to conduct statutory audits); (iv) monitoring implementation of continuing professional development requirements by members; (v) conducting an investigation and disciplinary system for members; and (vi) monitoring ethical requirements of members.

  • Professional Accountancy Organizations

    Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP)

    IWP was established in 1952 and is recognized by general consensus as a voluntary membership organization for individual CPAs and firms. Its main objective is the provision of guidance for auditors.

    IWP is a member of IFAC and Accountancy Europe.

    Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der WirtschaftstreuhänderKSW)

    KSW was established by Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz – WTBG) as a mandatory membership organization for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Pending endorsement of ISA by the EU Commission, KSW acts as the de facto audit standard-setter in the jurisdiction under the supervision of the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB). WTBG authorized the KSW to develop and issue the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie - WTARL). In accordance with WTBG and WTARL, KSW is responsible for (i) administering relevant professional examinations; (ii) evaluating candidates’ fulfillment of all initial professional development requirements established by law; (iii) licensing CPAs; (iv) monitoring implementation of continuing professional development requirements by members; (v) conducting an investigation and disciplinary system for members; and (vi) monitoring ethical requirements of members.

    KSW is a member of IFAC and Accountancy Europe.

  • Projects or Other Information

Adoption of International Standards

  • Quality Assurance

    The legal basis for the Austrian Quality Assurance and Public Oversight System is set out in the Austrian Auditor Oversight Act of 2016 (Abschlussprüfer-Aufsichtsgesetz – APAG) which establishes the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB) as the audit supervisory authority in the jurisdiction that operates under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance. APAB is responsible for establishing and conducting quality assurance (QA) reviews for all mandatory audits.

    APAB’s Committee for External Quality Inspections (Arbeitsausschuss für externe Qualitätsprüfung – AeQ) is responsible for implementation of the system. All statutory auditors and audit firms that perform statutory audits in Austria are subject to quality reviews at least every six years. Auditors of public interest entities are subject to quality reviews at least once every three years.

    The Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP) and the Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW) report in their 2019 SMO Action Plan that the QA review system operating in the jurisdiction is in line with the requirements of SMO 1.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • International Education Standards

    The Accountants Act (Bundesgesetz über die Bilanzbuchhaltungsberufe – BibuG); the Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz - WTBG); and the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie – WTARL) establish initial professional and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD respectively) requirements for all segments of the profession.

    BibuG and the Directive on Professional Practice are the two laws that set the regulatory framework for self-employed accountants. According to the law, self-employed accountants include Certified Management Accountants, Payroll Accountants, and Certified Accountants. Self-employed accountants and accountancy practices register with the Joint Commission, which has the authority to sanction or withdraw permission to practice if requirements are not met.

    To be officially appointed as any kind of self-employed accountant applicants must successfully complete the appropriate professional examination, which includes a written exam and an oral board exam, administered by the Joint Commission under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance. There are no pre-requisite educational requirements to sit for the exams. Applicants must have evidence of relevant work experience (three years for Certified Management Accountants, and one and a half years for both Certified Accountants and Payroll Accountants). Qualifications acquired elsewhere must be deemed comparable by the Joint Commission. All practicing registered accounting professionals are obliged to undertake 22.5 hours per year. The Joint Commission selectively verifies compliance with CPD requirements at the beginning of each year and imposes sanctions for cases of non-compliance.

    The public accounting profession includes Tax Consultants and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), the latter being authorized to act as statutory auditors. Public accountants are regulated at the state level by the WTBG.

    The WTBG authorized the KSW to develop and issue the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie - WTARL) of 2003 (as amended) which stipulates ethical and CPD requirements. CPAs must complete a total of 120 hours, distributed over three years (with a minimum of 30 hours per year) in relevant advanced training courses, which can include private study (no more than 10 hours per year).

    In Austria, CPAs must have a relevant degree from a university as well as a minimum of three years of work experience as auditors-in-training registered with the KSW. After passing the examination and taking the professional oath before the Ministry of Finance, KSW issues a certificate to the candidate.

    The Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP) and KSW report in their 2019 SMO Action Plan that the education requirements in the jurisdiction address all the relevant revised 2015 IES requirements.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • International Standards on Auditing

    European Union member states had until June 17, 2016 to transpose the European audit reform package, comprising the Directive 2014/56/EU on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts), into their national legislation. At the same time, the Regulation (EU) No 537/2014 on specific requirements regarding statutory audit of public interest entities (PIEs) came into force. The Regulation is directly applicable law in all EU member states and overrides any national law on the same subject matter. The Directive requires auditors and audit firms in member states to apply international auditing standards adopted by the EU Commission which—as stated in the Directive—means ISA, ISQC 1, and other related standards issued through the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). While the German parliament adopted the EU audit reforms on March 10, 2016, the EU Commission has not yet adopted ISA.

    Pending endorsement of ISA by the EU Commission, the Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW) acts as the de facto audit standard-setter in the jurisdiction under the supervision of the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB). Effective June 2016, KSW adopted ISA as issued by IAASB for all mandatory audits. The Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP) supports the implementation of ISA through its collaboration with the professional accountancy organization in Germany—Institute of Public Auditors in Germany, Incorporated Association (IDW)—to translate the standards into German (2016 ISA 315 being the latest).

    Current Status: Adopted

  • Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants

    The Accountants Act (Bundesgesetz über die Bilanzbuchhaltungsberufe – BibuG); the Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz – WTBG); and the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie – WTARL) establish ethical requirements for all segments of the profession.

    The Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP) and the Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW) report in their 2019 SMO Action Plan that the ethical requirements for professional accountants in Austria are equivalent and more stringent than the requirements of the 2018 Handbook of the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • International Public Sector Accounting Standards

    The Austrian government requires accrual-basis reporting to be applied in preparing the financial statements/reports for the federal/central government for the most recently completed financial year. The Austrian government issues its own national standards.

    It is unclear if there are plans to formally adopt IPSAS for application in the jurisdiction in light of the ongoing initiative to develop EU’s European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS) which are based on IPSAS but tailored for application in the EU.

    Current Status: Not Adopted

  • Investigation and Discipline

    The Accountants Act (Bundesgesetz über die Bilanzbuchhaltungsberufe – BibuG); the Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz – WTBG); and the Directive on the Practice of the Public Accounting Professions (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufs-Ausübungsrichtlinie – WTARL) establish investigation and disciplinary requirements for all segments of the profession.

    BibuG and WTARL set the regulatory framework for self-employed accountants. According to the law, self-employed accountants include Certified Management Accountants, Payroll Accountants, and Certified Accountants. Self-employed accountants are subject to the Joint Commission’s investigation and disciplinary system when obligations specified in the law are not met—under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance.

    The public accounting profession includes Tax Consultants and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), the latter being authorized to act as statutory auditors. Public accountants are regulated at the state level by the Public Accountants’ Statute of Professional Practice (Wirtschaftstreuhandberufsgesetz – WTBG). Investigation and discipline of statutory auditors/firms or public interest entities are conducted by the Audit Oversight Body of Austria (Abschlussprüferaufsichtsbehörde – APAB).

    All other entities not covered above, are subject to the Institute of Austrian Certified Public Accountants (Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer – IWP) and the Chamber of Public Accountants (Kammer der Wirtschaftstreuhänder – KSW) I&D systems.

    IWP and KSW report that all I&D systems in the jurisdiction are in line with SMO 6 requirements.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • International Financial Reporting Standards

    In Austria, section 245a of the Austrian Commercial Code of 2015, as amended (Unternehmensgesetzbuch – UGB) stipulates the requirements for preparation of financial statements, including applicable accounting standards and financial reporting thresholds which are in line with the European Commission (EC) Regulation No. 1606/2002. Authority to set accounting standards in Austria rests with the government.

    EU-endorsed IFRS are required for the preparation of consolidated financial statements of all public interest entities (PIEs) in Austria, which comprise listed entities, credit institutions, and insurance undertakings. All other entities are free to choose to prepare consolidated financial statements in accordance with EU-endorsed IFRS or in accordance with Austrian GAAP as established in law. Although the Austrian GAAP and the principles in the framework of IFRS are very similar, they differ in their fundamental objectives as well as their strategic orientation and emphasis.

    Current Status: Adopted

Disclaimer

IFAC bears no responsibility for the information provided in the SMO Action Plans prepared by IFAC member organizations. Please see our full Disclaimer for additional information.

Methodology

Methodology
Last updated: 12/2019
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