Good preparation makes it easier to complete your tax return. You are recommended to collect and prepare the required documents in the course of the year. These documents include:
For declaring your income and assets:
Salary certificate(s) (if you are an employee)
Accounts (if you are self-employed)
Pension statements (if you are retired, etc.)
Bank or post office account statements
Statements relating to investments
For making deductions:
Certificates for contributions made to pillar 2 and 3a pension funds
Health insurance costs and medical expenses
Costs of professional education and training courses
Receipts for donations to charities
For homeowners: documents relating to property tax, mortgage interest, bills for maintenance and repairs, running and administrative costs, etc.
In your tax return, you must declare the income you receive as an employee, as a self-employed person and for any second jobs that you have. For the majority of taxpayers, employees with only one job, this means that you must simply enter your net annual salary as indicated on your salary certificate in the relevant field of your tax return.
In addition to your earnings, you must declare other income (e.g. maintenance payments if you are divorced, income from investments, gambling winnings).
If you are retired, you have to declare your OASI and occupational pension income.
Comprehensive information on income tax is available in the publications issued by the Federal Tax Administration.
Your taxable income is your entire income minus the allowable deductions. It forms the basis for calculating how much income tax you have to pay.
The deductions that you are allowed to make include the following:
These comprise the costs you incur in doing your job. For employees, this includes travel to your place of work or meals away from home. For the self-employed, this could be office rent or depreciation on vehicles or tools.
To a limited extent, you can deduct the interest you pay on debts, the health insurance and medical costs you pay, and life insurance premiums[MKRB1] and 3rd pillar contributions, among other things. You can also deduct donations you have made to charitable institutions or the cost of continuing education and training courses.
Social deductions provide tax relief for families (deductions for children and for care costs), older persons and persons with disabilities (deductions for those in receipt of an OASI or invalidity pension), among others.
The precise amount that you can deduct from your income varies from canton to canton. You should consult the guide that you receive from the canton with your tax return. The cantonal tax administrations also provide information online and are available to answer your questions directly.
For most taxpayers, income tax is the largest item on the tax bill. However, all the cantons and communes also levy a wealth tax.
In your tax return, you must declare the following assets, among others: real estate, securities, cash, bank account balances, life and pension insurance policies (surrender value). You do not have to declare your household effects, but if you have invested your money in an expensive art collection, for example, you have to declare that.
The Federal Tax Administration provides comprehensive information on wealth tax in its publications.
Your taxable assets are all your assets minus the allowable deductions. This forms the basis for calculating how much wealth tax you have to pay.
Debts (e.g. mortgages or loans) can be deducted from assets in all the cantons. Most cantons also allow social deductions and provide tax allowances.
The precise amount that you can deduct from your assets varies from canton to canton. You should consult the guide that you receive from the canton with your tax return. The cantonal tax administrations also provide information online and are available to answer your questions directly.
The Federal Tax Administration also publishes summaries of the various deductions for the whole of Switzerland (Confederation/Cantons).
Normally, you receive your tax return from the cantonal tax administration and must also submit it there. In all the cantons, it is possible to fill in the tax return electronically or directly online.
Requesting an extension of the deadline
Generally, you have 30 days to complete and file your tax return. The deadline is indicated on the forms. If you need more time, you can apply for an extension of the deadline.
If you have any questions about your tax return, your cantonal tax administration can help. The cantonal tax authorities offer a wealth of information online and you can also contact them directly.
If you would like to have your tax return completed by a professional tax advisor, you can obtain information from one of the professional associations (Treuhand Schweiz, ExpertSuisse).
Married couples fill out one joint tax return. The two incomes are added together and taxed jointly. This also applies to persons in a registered partnership.
The Confederation and the cantons have introduced tax relief (splitting, married tax rate) with the aim of ensuring that married couples and persons in a registered partnership do not face a greater tax burden than cohabiting couples.
The Federal Tax Administration provides comprehensive information on the taxation of families in its publications.
steuern-easy.ch (website available in German, French and Italian) - practise filling out your tax return with the help of simplified examples, information for young taxpayers.
Cantonal tax administrations (website available in German, French and Italian) - Information, online tax returns, contacts
Federal Tax Administration - Tax information dossiers (web page available in German and French)
Swiss Federal Tax Administration - Tax folders (web page available in German and French)