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365 Ticket: Everything you need to know about Vienna’s cheap annual metro pass

A yearly ticket on Vienna’s public transport costs one euro per day. Here’s what you need to know.

365 Ticket: Everything you need to know about Vienna's cheap annual metro pass
A ticket-stamping machine in Vienna. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

In 2012, Vienna introduced the ‘365 Ticket’ – a yearly public transport pass which costs the equivalent of one euro per day. 

Now known as the ‘Vienna Model’, the idea has spread internationally – and is being considered in other cities with extensive public transport networks such as Berlin and Munich.

What is the 365 Ticket and why was it introduced? 

The starting point for the 365 Ticket was actually a more ambitious idea – a yearly ticket which would cover all of Austria. 

Floated in 2008, the ‘Austria Ticket’ would have cost just over €1,000 and would have given all holders the right to travel on bus, tram and train services across the entire country. 

While the idea eventually stalled, it was the inspiration for the 365 Ticket. 

An election promise made by Vienna Greens candidate Maria Vassilakou in 2010 was to reduce the cost of the yearly ticket to €100, but this idea stalled – with some arguing that it was far too cheap and would result in a revenue hole for transport authorities. 

In May 2012, the Wiener Linien – Vienna’s public transport authority – reduced the cost of a yearly pass from €449 to €365 as a compromise. 

As at January 2021, the cost of the ticket remains the same. 

Why is it so influential? 

When the ticket was introduced, yearly tickets rose dramatically in popularity – increasing from 363,000 holders in 2011 to more than double that in 2016. 

As at 2019, an estimated 850,000 people – almost half of the city’s population – have yearly tickets. 

Travelling via public transport has become more popular too, with the number of journeys increasing by 38 percent over that time. 

Note: These figures come from before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A ticket-stamping machine in Vienna. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

How does it work? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tickets do not pay for themselves. 

Around 60 percent of the cost of the tickets to transport authorities come from sales – with the remaining 40 percent coming from government subsidies. 

Austria’s Die Presse reports that the ticket without subsidies would cost subscribers €730 per year. 

The plan is partially subsidised by the Austrian and Viennese governments, who chip in around €700m per year. 

As reported by The Guardian, the costs are partially offset by an increase in parking fines by 60 percent since 2012, along with the introduction of a ‘subway tax’ of €2 euro per employee (paid by employers). 

Where else has it caught on?

365 Tickets have been adopted in the German cities of Bonn and Reutlingen, while similar schemes are being investigated in Berlin, Munich, Essen, Fürth, Herrenberg and Mannheim. 

Variations of the ticket exist in Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Hamburg (for apprentices and schoolchildren). 

The ticket is also set to be adopted in several Austrian regions, including Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg, reported Austria’s Kurier newspaper on December 9th, 2020. 

Is it coming to a city near you? 

From reducing traffic to cutting pollution and carbon emissions, the benefits of encouraging public transport are clear. 

While in Vienna the ticket managed to do this – with public transport use increasing by 38 percent and season ticket sales more than doubling.

The question however is whether the ticket will actually encourage more people to switch from driving to using public transport. 

A spokesperson for the German Association of Public Transport said in 2019 that the ticket would be only worthwhile if it convinced motorists to make the switch – rather than just reducing the costs for people who already use public transport. 

Another major sticking point is the cost. 

While the 365 Ticket has great marketing value in costing just a euro per day, it brings in much less revenue than existing season tickets and is likely to be a problem in larger cities with more sophisticated public transit networks. 

Even in Vienna – a city of less than two million people – the true cost of the ticket is double the price. 

But what about the Austria Ticket? 

As for the Austria Ticket, it was set for launch in 2020 and now in 2021, but is being held up due to disagreements. 

The ticket – now called a 1-2-3 Ticket – has been forecast for more than a decade but is still being held up in negations between federal and state governments and the respective public transport authorities. 

The goal of the scheme is similar to the 365 Ticket – but at a state and federal level – by bringing it all into the one plan. 

If approved, the 1-2-3 Ticket will cost one euro per day for unlimited travel in one Austrian state, two euros per day for unlimited travel in two states and three euros per day for unlimited travel in all of Austria. 

Currently, the ÖBB’s Österreichcard costs €1,964 per year – or just over €5 per day. 

While there is no concrete date yet for when the ticket will be available, Austria’s Der Standard newspaper reports authorities are hopeful it will be released in Spring, but only if an agreement can be reached over who will subsidise the ticket. 


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For members


New deadlines and deductions: How to file taxes in Germany in 2023

The deadline for people in Germany to file their 2022 tax return is coming up. Here are the newest tax changes to keep in mind - and how you can benefit from them.

New deadlines and deductions: How to file taxes in Germany in 2023

For many people in Germany, submitting a Steuererklärung (tax return) is about as pleasant as hearing nails slowly scratching the surface of a chalkboard. 

As a result, they put it off as long as possible. But with the deadline for 2022 taxes slowly coming into sight in September, here’s a look at what you should know – and which changes to tax law will take effect for the very first time.

By when do I have to submit my tax return?

Normally, the deadline for filing an income tax return is always July 31st of the following year – provided the taxpayer completes and files the return themself. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the German government temporarily granted tax payers an extra three months more time, which also benefited the overburdened Steueramt (tax office). 

For the 2022 assessment period, there will still be an extended deadline, but just for two months – or to the end of September 2023. 

However, because September 30th falls on a Saturday this year, the documents do not have to be submitted to the tax office until the next working day, or October 2nd.

And even in Germany there’s a little flexibility: Taxpayers can always request a later submission date from the tax office. However, they need a valid reason for this – for example, if they have a longer stay in hospital that affects the process. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s extended tax filing deadlines

What deadline applies if I use the services of a tax consultant or income tax assistance association?

If you work with a Steuerberater (tax advisor) or tax association, your tax return for the year 2022 does not have to be submitted until July 31st, 2024. 

Starting with the 2025 assessment period, the regular deadlines will apply again. This means: Those who entrust a professional with their tax return have seven months more time than a self-filer. 

Do employees have to file a tax return at all?

Theoretically no, as taxes are automatically deducted from an employee’s payslip. Yet 50 percent of employees are still required to submit a tax return  – for example, if he or she earns additional income through renting out a property, receives wage replacement benefits such as Kurzarbeit short-time allowance or makes use of Ehegattensplitting (spousal splitting) together with his or her partner. 

Self-employed people also need to submit a return in all cases. Anyone who doesn’t file their return in time should expect the tax office to impose a surcharge for late payment.

READ ALSO: The top tax deadlines often overlooked by employees in Germany

There is no obligation for single people with tax class I, nor married single earners with tax class III, to file a return if they don’t have extra income.

In such cases, though, it’s still recommended to voluntarily file a tax return, for example to claim income-related expenses thus get money back from the tax authorities. 

Employees have four years to do this – so there is plenty of time to file a return. 

Typewriter with German tax return

A Steuererklärung – or German tax return – on a typewriter. Photo: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Can I still submit my tax return on paper?

Employees and retirees who have no other taxable income (except from capital assets or renting/leasing) may continue to fill out their tax return on paper and submit it to the tax office. In all other cases, electronic submission is mandatory. 

The tax authorities recommend the state portal “My Elster” for this, though there are also an array of filing apps in Germany, including several such as Taxfix, with an English option.

What changes in tax law should be noted this year?

Last year, the basic tax-free amount on which no tax is payable was set at €10,347. It’s now gone up to €10,908.

In light of the high inflation and to prevent a creeping tax increase (“cold progression”), Germany has also increased the benchmarks of the 2022 tax scale by just under 1.2 percent, so the bottom line is that taxpayers have more money left. 

Last year, Kindergeld (child benefit) was €219 for the first two children, an amount which has now gone up to €250. The tax-deductible Kinderfreibetrag (child allowance) was previous €5,620 per child and has now been raised to €5,760.

READ ALSO: The tax cuts foreign parents in Germany should know about

Which tax deductions have changed?

As Germany grappled with skyrocketing inflation of over 10 percent last year, the government decided on some changes to relieve the burden on taxpayers.

These included an increase in the employee lump sum (Pauschbetrag), which is often also called the income-related expenses lump sum. 

It increased retroactively to January 1st, 2022 by €200 to €1,200. 

For 2023, the figure will go up once again to €1,230. 

Anyone who does not wish to claim individual income-related expenses in their tax return automatically benefits from the flat rate.

Germany also agreed on an increased commuter allowance. The change, which was set to come into effect in 2024 was brought forward in view of high inflation. The commuter allowance is now 38 cents from the 21st kilometre. Up to the 20th kilometre, it is still 30 cents per kilometre. The regulation is – at least for now – limited until the end of 2026.

Employees working from home can furthermore claim up to €600 for the tax year 2022 – €5 per day for a maximum of 120 days. 

READ ALSO: Germany to extend (and increase) tax rebate for people working from home