The federal government levies withholding tax on income from financial investments – i.e. on interest and dividends paid to investors. The bank transfers 65% of the interest to the account holder and 35% to the Federal Tax Administration.
The federal government levies withholding tax as a measure to prevent tax evasion. Taxpayers have an incentive to declare their income from bank accounts and securities in full in order to obtain a refund of the withholding tax.
The state also deducts withholding tax directly from some lottery and gambling winnings. Pensions and benefits from insurance policies and savings schemes (life insurance, 3rd pillar) are also subject to withholding tax. However, the amount of tax here is significantly lower than 35% and depends on the type of benefit.
You will be refunded the withholding tax if you declare your investment income (for example, interest from bank accounts or dividends) the list of investments in your tax return. Your canton pays you back the withholding tax. As a rule, the canton deducts the amount owed from the bill for cantonal taxes.
Legal entities (for example, companies or associations) claim the withholding tax back directly from the Federal Tax Administration.
Federal Tax Administration – Refund of withholding tax for legal entities only (web page available in German, French and Italian)
Cantonal tax administrations (web page available in German, French and Italian)