Many people are familiar with the situation: Christmas presents are often only bought at the last minute on the last Saturday of shopping. Apparently, there are more deadline junkies in Austria than previously known: Because over a million climate bonus vouchers are set to expire at the end of the year. There is not much time left to redeem them.
Between 250 (under 18-year-olds) and 500 euros (adults) in climate and anti-pollution bonuses were available in 2022. In most cases, the payment was made directly to the recipient’s account. However, the Climate Ministry (BMK) did not have the bank details of around 1.43 million people.
10.9 million vouchers exchanged for cash
For logistical reasons, booklets with 50-euro vouchers from Sodexo were sent out instead of cash. The coupons could be exchanged for cash at the post office or redeemed in partner stores. As the BMK reported on request, most recipients preferred the exchange method. Around 547 million euros (10.9 million vouchers) were paid this way.
By November 2023, 929,894 vouchers worth around 46.5 million euros had been redeemed in stores.
If you add up the vouchers that were exchanged, paid out and not collected (98,000 in November 2022 according to Standard), this leaves between one and 1.4 million vouchers with a total value of 50 to 72 million euros. According to the Climate Ministry, this sum will flow back into the departmental budget and finance further climate bonuses.
As the Sodexo vouchers are “vouchers without financial consideration”, the time limit is “freely determinable” according to the BMK. The Austrian Ombudsman Board also sees no signs of an unfair expiry date. So far, no complaints have been received on the subject. For this reason, the Ombudsman’s Office would only examine any issues “should complaints be made in this regard.”
The question remains as to why over 100,000 people did not make use of the vouchers. No data is available on this. Possible explanations include loss of the vouchers, being overwhelmed by the procedure or simply forgetfulness. Perhaps some Austrians are simply doing too well, and there is no need to hand out gifts on a scattergun basis.
- source: profil.at/picture: klimabonus.at
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