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Paying taxes

Private individuals have to pay tax on their income and assets. And then there are other taxes to pay. ch.ch gives you a rundown on what you should know about taxes in Switzerland.

Old age pensions, schools, roads, defence: the state has to finance its expenditure. This is why it levies taxes, customs duties and other charges.
The obligation to pay tax applies to everyone over the age of 18.
Every year in January or February, you receive a letter from the tax office: your tax return is due. Nowadays, you can fill it out easily online.

You will find some tips and a tax return to practise on at www.steuerneasy.ch.

The amount of tax that you have to pay depends mainly on the level of your income. But your assets, marital status, religion, the number of children you have and where you live also have an influence.

The tax return is primarily concerned with the income tax that you pay to the Confederation, your canton and your commune. For almost everyone in Switzerland, having to pay income tax and VAT is an unavoidable fact of life.

Income tax

Income tax is based on the level of your income. In most cases, your income consists of your salary, or salaries if you have more than one employer. The details of your income for tax purposes are shown on your annual salary statement, which has to be filed with your tax return. The Confederation also taxes your income, by levying direct federal tax. This tax is assessed and collected by your canton.

In addition to income tax, some cantons also charge a poll tax or household tax.

Tax on securities and insurance premiums

Wealth tax

Whenever you buy something, you have to pay value added tax. The rates of VAT vary. For food, newspapers and medicines, the rate is 2.5%, while for accommodation in a hotel, it is 3.8%. Almost any other purchases and services are taxed at a rate of 8%. Cinema, theatre, concert and museum tickets, and rent are all exempt from VAT.

Other forms of tax

All cantons and communes also tax assets if they exceed a certain value. The rate of tax and the exemption limit varies from canton to canton. Many people do not pay any wealth tax.

Wealth tax on properties

There are many other forms of tax. However, most are only payable in special circumstances. Savings and assets are only taxed if they exceed a certain level. If you have a dog, you pay dog tax. There are also taxes on beer and tobacco, on motor vehicles, tickets, church tax, etc.

120 billion francs in revenue each year

The Confederation, cantons and communes levy around 30 different forms of tax. In this way, they bring in around 120 billion francs of tax revenue each year.

Direct and indirect taxes

All these taxes can be categorised into two distinct groups:

  • Direct taxes, such as income tax: they paid directly by the taxpayers.
  • Indirect taxes, such as VAT: they become due e.g. when you pay for goods or services.

Corporation tax

Businesses also pay taxes. The tax is levied on their profits.

Further information

Do you want to find out more about the Swiss tax system?