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Taxation of expats in Switzerland

As an expat working in Switzerland, you are liable for Swiss income and wealth tax. This tax varies from canton to canton.

Tax provisions specific to Switzerland

In Switzerland there are three different levels of taxes:

  • Federal tax
  • Cantonal tax
  • Municipal tax

This may seem complicated, but in practice you will only have to pay tax once, normally to the cantonal authorities.

The Swiss tax system therefore implies differences according to the place of residence.

See, for example, our map of the tax burden in 2017 for a single person without children with an annual gross income of CHF 100,000.

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For example, a single person taxed at source and earning CHF 8,000 gross per month will pay CHF 418 per month in the canton of Zug (cheapest canton) and CHF 1,363 per month in Neuchâtel (most expensive canton)1.

As each canton has its own tax system, this can lead to other differences depending on criteria such as family composition.

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Tax deductions

The ordinary tax return allows deductions such as transport costs, childcare costs, subsistence, third pillar contributions, etc. The conditions for these deductions may vary from canton to canton.

Taxation at source does not permit the actual deduction of these expenses, but takes into account an overall average. However, it is possible to request an adjustment (ask your cantonal authorities), in order to include certain significant deductions, such as those related to the third pillar.

Other taxes

You may be liable for other types of taxes in Switzerland.

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Church tax

Although it may seem strange, your religious affiliation will be requested on the administrative documents, as some Swiss cantons apply a religious tax. If your denomination is a recognised church, you will have to pay a certain amount of tax.

However, you have the option of stating that you have no religion and pay nothing.

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Wealth tax

Wealth tax must be declared (in conjunction with the income tax return in the case of ordinary taxation).

This tax applies above CHF 50,000 depending on the canton and generally amounts to less than 1%.

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Tax on possessions and expenses payments

There are other taxes such as motor vehicle tax and dog tax. These vary from canton to canton and you will find them on the website of the cantonal tax authorities.

Double taxation

Depending on the laws of your home country, you may have to file a tax return there as well, but this does not usually mean that you will pay tax twice. Switzerland has signed agreements with around 100 countries aimed at preventing double taxation.

1 (2018). Taxation at source in Switzerland See

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