Repayment of family allowance reduced by half from € 5.200 to € 2.600 with help of ÖH!

4. March 2021
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Repayment of family allowance can be reduced by half from € 5,200 to € 2,600 with the help of the ÖH!

W studies his Bachelor’s degree program A for 4 semesters starting in the winter semester 2013. In the winter semester 2015, he changes to Bachelor’s degree program B after 4 semesters. Since these studies are very similar, all 60 ECTS credits from study A are credited to him in the new study program.

To the complete surprise of student W, at the end of 2017 the tax office demands the return of € 5,200 in family allowance received for his study B from his father as the beneficiary. The authority’s recovery notice states that W’s late change of studies led to a 4-semester waiting period for entitlement to family allowance and that these amounts already paid out must therefore be repaid.

W turns to the social department of the Austrian Student Union (ÖH). He would like to inquire whether this approach by the tax office can be legally compliant.

The ÖH informs that a maximum of 2 changes of study are permitted and that each change of study must be made after the 2nd enrolled semester at the latest. If you change your studies more than 2 times, you are no longer entitled to family allowance. Changes of study made later than after the 2nd semester, result in a waiting period during which one cannot receive the family allowance in the new study. In this case, the student is only entitled to the family allowance again if he/she has completed as many semesters in the newly chosen study program as in the study program pursued before the change. In this regard, however, the law provides that the waiting period is shortened by credits from previous studies. This is because recognized examinations from the belatedly changed study program in the new study program shorten the waiting period.

One semester corresponds to 30 ECTS credits, so that a credit of 60 ECTS credits, as is the case with W, leads to a reduction of the waiting period from 4 to 2 semesters. The recovery itself was therefore unfortunately permissible, but the amount was incorrect. After 2 semesters in the new study B, W’s father – according to the legal opinion of the ÖH – would have been entitled to the family allowance for his son again.

With the support of the Social Welfare Department, an appeal to the Federal Fiscal Court is being formulated. In this letter it is argued that the ECTS credits from the late changed study program have to be taken into account for the waiting period and therefore the family allowance should not have been reclaimed for 4 semesters, but only for 2.

The Federal Fiscal Court agrees with this legal opinion and reduces the recovery of € 5,200 calculated by the tax office to approximately € 2,600. Only 2 and not 4 semesters of received family allowance its permissible to repay.

Won by the ÖH: With the support of the ÖH, a student can reduce the high reclaim amount of family allowance.

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