Time to tackle tax: the tax form is one of the more laborious tasks you face in Switzerland and, as the fiscal year corresponds to the calendar year, you will have received your 2012 tax form by now. Here are some tips to help you complete it.
Who completes a tax form?
If you earn less than
120,000 (gross), are not a property owner
and your employer deducts tax directly from your monthly income, you
probably will not have to complete a Swiss tax return. However, if you
feel that certain deductions (see below) would impact your taxable
income and may not be apparent to your cantonal tax office, write to
them at the end of the applicable tax year with your receipts to request
a refund. If you do not fall into the above categories, it is likely
that you will need to complete a tax return.
Completing your tax form
1. Create a checklist and a file: We recommend getting organised
early in the year and keeping records updated. Organised records make
completing the tax form easier, ensuring deductions are not missed, and
thus reducing your tax advisor’s bill.
TIP: Most tax-related documents arrive in January However, for
owners of shares or bonds, the dividends are paid throughout the year.
The bank will send you the receipts following a dividend payout, which
should be filed. For a fee, the bank can provide a summary, detailing
dividends and the balance on 31 December.
2. Your tax form will arrive in February and you must return it
within 30 days. Extensions of the deadline are possible check if you are
eligible. File your tax return in one go. Divide the tax form into two
parts: income and wealth, each divided into earnings and deductions.
Both income and wealth are taxable but deductions are allowed.
TIP: Wealth tax is levied on the value of your worldly assets,
minus any debts. It is levied at cantonal and local levels. Assets
include life insurances, bank account statement details which are
included with the income statements, details of material items such as
cars, details of
Assets of relatively small value. For financial reporting purposes, firms frequently combine small assets into a single category rather than listing each item separately.
such as jewellery or paintings, debts and
loan statements, and details of
inheritance. Check whether
you are eligible for any deductions with our list below.
3. To complete the ‘income’ section, find your salary
statement, which should have been provided by your employer in January
for the previous year. Details of other income–including spouse or
part-time work, and benefits including income earned outside
Switzerland–are also required.
rental income is a cantonal estimate of the
home n →
would pay for the house or apartment they five in. If
you cannot find the document, or do not know the amount, ask at your
4. Sign and date your return. It must also be signed by your
spouse, if appropriate. Keep a complete copy for your records. If you
decide to use a financial adviser, we recommend you agree a flat fee and
deliver all your documents in one go.
* Mortgage interest and loans (to a certain limit)
* Employment expenses (usually incur a standard deduction, but most
cantons allow a deduction of employment expenses which exceed the
standard deduction. Receipts and proof are required)
* Home office (deduction if you designate a room at home for
business. Your employer may have to confirm that you are required to
work from home)
* Further education, including improving professional skills and
at federal level, including variation between
* Pillar 2 (additional contributions to corporate pension plans are
fully deductible–see below. A receipt and a copy of the signed
agreement are required)
* Pillar 3a (contributions to personal pension accounts or
insurance plans are deductible providing a receipt is provided–see
* Health insurance premiums
in law, allowance for support that an individual pays to his or her former spouse, usually as part of a divorce settlement. It is based on the common law right of a wife to be supported by her husband, but in the United States, the Supreme Court in 1979
, dependants and child support (alimony payments to a
divorced or separated spouse are deductible in all cantons and at
federal level. Deductions for the support of dependants are available
under federal and all cantonal income tax statutes)
* Charitable contributions made to qualified organisations
(deductible as long as the deductions are itemised)
* Property maintenance and administration costs
1. Make a voluntary contribution to Pillar 2 (corporate pension):
department about any potential shortfall in
your pension, and if one exists consider making a voluntary
2. Open a Pillar 3a personal account: if you are an employee or are
self-employed, consider opening a Pillar 3a bank account. Contributions
are deductible from income and no tax is levied on the interest. For an
employee the maximum contribution for 2013 is CHF 6,739, while for the
self-employed or persons not belonging to a pension fund it is twenty
per cent of their net earned income, to a maximum of CHF 33,696.
3. Move to a new community: moving a short distance to a different
community or canton may reduce taxes considerably. Tax is usually paid
for the calendar year to the canton and community where you are
registered on 31 December.
Brien Donnellon is the owner of KEY INVESTMENT. a
company providing unbiased financial advice and solutions for
Swiss-based expatriates, HR departments and foreign investors. The
company, formed in 1997, is authorised and regulated by the Swiss
Federal Banking Commission.
For further information: 081 257 13 14 firstname.lastname@example.org