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Taxation (Other)

Switzerland - Taxation (Other)

Wealth Tax
Monetary gifts, inheritance gains and lottery wins are all taxed in Switzerland. These all come under the wealth tax which is administered by the canton. Therefore it does vary from one canton to another but is generally a very low rate of taxation. The wealth tax includes all liquid assets held both in Switzerland and worldwide. In other words, property (even when rented out) and vehicles abroad are included, as are foreign savings, stocks and shares, even where held in a tax-free scheme in your home country such as an ISA in the UK or a 529 Plan in the US. Offshore investments are also included. Before assessing property value, any outstanding mortgage is deducted.

Property Tax
If you buy a property in Switzerland, tax will be applied in the same way as it is for property abroad. The property will be assessed by an official and placed in a tax band according to its location, living area in terms of floor space, number of rooms, and garden size. If this has been done in the past, you will be able to fill out forms asking for similar information rather than receive a visit. Any mortgage remaining on the property is not included in calculating the tax liability, and a low estimate of rental value tends to be used as the basis of the taxable amount. Inherited property attracts a property transfer fee.

Church Tax
The canton administers the Church Tax. To avoid paying this, assuming of course that you are not planning to participate in any way in religious life in your community, you should register as having "no religion" at your local migration office on arrival in Switzerland. If you do not do this, expect to be charged the Church Tax alongside your other taxes. To stop paying Church tax you may have to write a letter to formally leave the church -- check your canton's requirements with the Gemeinde.

Capital Gains Tax for Property / Real Estate
Capital gains tax for properties (G: Grundstuckgewinsteuer, F: Déclaration d'un gain immobilier) is payable if you make a profit from Swiss real estate, e.g. if you are not reinvesting in another Swiss property of equal or greater value. Money spent improving the property can be deducted before tax is applied. Normal property maintenance costs can be added as a non-taxable deduction to your personal tax return. There are no capital gains taxes on private wealth since this is assessed under the Wealth Tax.

A VAT sales tax applies to goods and services bought in Switzerland and to goods brought into Switzerland (see the Customs section of this guide for exceptions for household removals). If taxed on goods brought into Switzerland, you will be able to apply for a VAT refund of the tax you paid in the country of purchase. The VAT rate in Switzerland from 1 January 2011 is 8.0%, with a reduced rate of 3.8%. These rates are projected to be in effect until 2018. VAT in Switzerland compares favourably to that of EU and EFTA countries.

Useful Resources

Zurich Tax Office: Grundsteuern
Grundsteuern, Werdstrasse 75, 8004 Zürich
Tel: 044 412 34 71

Geneva Tax Office: Déclaration d'un gain immobilier
Administration Fiscale Cantonale, Hôtel des finances, 26, rue du Stand, Case Postale 3937, 1211 Genève 3
Tel: 022 327 70 00

If not in Zurich or Geneva, contact the Grundsteuern department (or Section Impôt sur les gains immobiliers) of your own cantonal tax office.

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