For members


Swiss tax changes for 2020: What you need to know

The new year has brought with it a raft of new tax rules. Here's what you need to know about the changes.

Swiss tax changes for 2020: What you need to know
Photo: Depositphotos

Towards the end of 2019, The Local Switzerland brought you a comprehensive list of everything that was set to change in 2020. 

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Switzerland in 2020

Prominent on that list was several changes to taxation in Switzerland. Given everything that changed when the clock struck midnight on December 31st – from outlawing single use plastics to new train timetables – we didn’t have much time to go into the detail of the taxation changes. 

In this tax-focused document, we break down what’s changing – and indeed what’s already changed – this year. 

One major change – which is unlikely to impact the average Swiss resident – is Switzerland’s tax haven status.

After a number of governmental changes in 2019, the European Union now no longer considers Switzerland a tax haven – which removes controls on EU transactions. 

Another range of changes came through the Federal Act on Tax Reform and AHV Financing reforms, which were approved by a majority of Swiss voters in May of 2019. Each change will be outlined separately below, or click here for a full rundown (in French)

Old Age Pension Fund Contributions

Switzerland's ageing population has forecast a need to increase contributions to the old age pension fund (AHV).

For the first time in 40 years, the contribution made by employees will increase – from 8.4 percent to 8.7 percent, although half of this increase will be paid by employers. 

READ: Switzerland's strangest taxes – and what happens if you don't pay them 

Self employed or freelancing? You'll need to come up with the entire amount yourself – but the overall rate you’ll pay is lower if your income is under CHF56,900. 

Check out the specifics of the changes according to wage bracket here

Corporate taxes 

For anyone with a company in Switzerland, there are also some important changes to the corporate tax as a result of the referendum. 

Companies will be liable to pay lower tax rates in 2020 than previously in many Swiss cantons. 

The effective rates of corporate tax across the country in most cantons and municipalities will now be between 12 and 15 percent (including federal corporate tax). 

Some cantons, such as Zurich and Argau, the effective rate remains at 19.7 and 18.6 percent respectively. 

While some of the changes are modest, others are significant – in the city of Geneva for instance the tax rate dropped from 24.16 percent to 13.99 percent. 

The tax privileges that apply to holding, mixed, principal and domiciliary companies will be scrapped as they are not compliant with international law. 

Image: Depositphotos

Tax on patent rights

To encourage research and development, taxation will be reduced on patents and other similar rights. Tax relief for patents can be up to 90 percent. 

For those engaged in research and development, expenses incurred in the process can be deducted up to 150 percent in certain cantons. 


Taxation on dividends on individual shareholdings has been increased. The federal level has been set at 70 percent, while the cantonal level will vary but it will be at least 50 percent in all cantons. 

There’s also a change to what is known as the transposition threshold, which had been set at 5 percent.

The appropriate amount for taxing a transposition of shares will now be calculated by working out the sales proceeds, less the nominal value and capital contribution reserves. 

Minimum and maximum taxation

While the Swiss tax provisions can get a little confusing, perhaps the simplest aspect to understand is the minimum and maximum taxation amounts. 

The minimum taxation amount is 30 percent, while the maximum is set at an even 70 percent. This means that no matter your earnings – and from what sources – the rate of tax paid should be within these two limits. 

What do the changes mean for me?

The changes came into effect in on January first, but there’s no need to rush off to the accountant just yet. In Switzerland, the tax year runs parallel to the calendar year – which means that you won’t need to worry about these changes until 2021. 

That said, it’s never too early to get your affairs in order *cough* receipts *cough*. Remember to store your receipts carefully – you need to keep them for 15 years following the end of the relevant tax period. 


There are several different types of Swiss taxes and they are charged at the federal, cantonal and communal level, meaning they can get a tad confusing. 

As with any of the guides that appear on The Local Switzerland, this is not designed to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor.

This is a guide only – it is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the relevant tax amounts or categories. More detailed information is available in English on the Swiss government website, including a link to the relevant cantonal tax administrator. 



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For members


Everything that changes in Switzerland in February 2021

The new year is just clicking into gear, but February 2021 is already bringing with it some important changes.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in February 2021
Photo by Louis from Pexels

We're only one month into 2021, but already a few things are changing. From car stickers to alarms – and of course coronavirus – are some important changes for February 2021. 

Car stickers

You had the entire month of January to purchase the 2021 motorway sticker to affix on your windshield. If you haven’t done it yet, then as of February 1st you could be fined 200 francs if you are caught driving on a motorway without it.

Testing the alarm signal

The general alarm signal will be tested nationwide, as it is every year, on February 3rd at 1.30 pm. The cantons will also broadcast a notification on the Alertswiss channels.

The general alarm signal – a steady oscillating siren lasting one minute – is intended  to alert the population of an impending emergency or disaster. 

Fines for failing to comply with coronavirus measures

Anyone who violates a coronavirus measure in Switzerland is liable for a fine of between 50 and 200 francs. 

The fines were decided upon at a meeting on January 27th and will be put in place from February 1st.

They are in addition to existing fines of up to 10,000 francs for failing to quarantine. 

EXPLAINED: What are the details of Switzerland's coronavirus restrictions? 

Anyone who fails to wear a mask in public transport, stations or other areas where masks are required risks a fine of up to 200 francs. 

The fines can also be issued for anyone who participates in a prohibited event or who organises an event or gathering which contravenes the country’s coronavirus measures. 

Under Switzerland's Epidemics Act, people can be fined up to CHF5,000 for negligent behaviour against coronavirus measures, and CHF10,000 for wilful behaviour. 

These fines are most often threatened for people who breach quarantine rules.

Railway disruptions

From Monday February 8th to April 1st, circulation at Bern Bümpliz Sud train station will be possible on one track only. This will result in a longer journey time between Fribourg and Bern.

Service in Bern between the IR15 train (Geneva-Airport-Lucerne) and the IC8 (Brig – Bern – Zurich – Romanshorn) may be disrupted.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is recommending that passengers from French-speaking Switzerland travelling to Zurich and beyond use the IC1 trains via Bern or IC5 via Biel. 

Shorter quarantines

From February 8th, Switzerland will shorten the applicable coronavirus quarantine from ten days to seven.

This means those told to self-isolate can come out of quarantine after seven days, rather than 10, with a negative test result.

The quarantine rule also applies to incoming travellers from a country with a high risk of infection.

READ MORE: Switzerland to shorten coronavirus quarantine, require negative PCR test on all flight arrivals 

Free coronavirus testing

Switzerland has introduced free nationwide coronavirus testing programme for people without symptoms in an effort to prevent large-scale outbreaks.

From January 28th, “the federal government pays for persons without symptoms to be tested so that those who are particularly vulnerable can be better protected and local outbreaks of infection can be contained early on”, authorities announced on Wednesday. 

The government said it was prepared to spend more than a billion dollars the scheme, saying asymptomatic people were probably responsible for most new infections.

EXPLAINED: How will Switzerland’s mass testing scheme work?

Mandatory PCR test for all air arrivals

In addition, anyone arriving by air will need to present a negative PCR test from February 1st. 

This applies to people from high-risk and non-high-risk countries. Those arriving not by air will have to show a PCR test only if they are coming from a high-risk country. 

Electronic form required to enter Switzerland

Everyone who enters Switzerland other than by car is required to complete an electronic form before entering from February 8th onwards. 

The measure was announced on Wednesday, January 28th, by the Swiss government.

Everyone entering via plane, ship, bus and train – but not via car – will be required to complete the electronic entry form.

According to the official government advice about the new requirement, “this means that infections can be traced back more quickly and easily and chains of infection can be broken early.”

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: All passengers arriving in Switzerland required to register from February 8th 

End of shutdown

If the epidemiological situation allows it, the current coronavirus shutdown measures, such as the closure of restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses, should end on the last day of the month – February 28th.

These businesses have been shuttered since January 18th in an attempt to curb the spread of the new coronavirus variants from the UK and South Africa. 

Stay tuned to The Local Switzerland for coverage of Switzerland's coronavirus lockdown.