Wealth Tax in Switzerland

wealth tax in Switzerland

Table of contents

Wealth Tax: What Is It?

wealth tax switzerland

In Switzerland, the wealth tax is levied by the cantons and municipalities on the total value of an individual's personal property and assets.

This tax is based on the net wealth of the taxpayer, i.e. all assets, not including debts.

Unlike the income tax, which is based on a person's income over the course of a year, the wealth tax focuses on accumulated wealth. The wealth tax is also typically lower than income tax .

The wealth tax is part of the cantonal taxes and is levied only by the canton of residence or by the sate in which a property is.

This competence was entrusted to the cantons by the Confederation and has been codified by art 2 of the LHID.

Taxable Wealth

The following is a non-exhaustive list of items subject to wealth tax. These items may vary from canton to canton.

Real Estate : This concerns all types of buildings.

It's also worth noting that if you own real estate abroad, you don't need to add it to your tax return.

Please check, however, that the country where you own your property does not have a double taxation agreement with Switzerland. The neighbouring country of France, for example, has a double taxation agreement with Switzerland.

Financial Instruments: This category includes items such as shares in a public limited company,bonds, stocks, and shares in companies or associations.

Cash and bank deposits: This is anything that represents a sum of money. Examples include cash, bank deposits and current account balances.

Collective investment units: The difference between the total value of the investment's assets and the value of its real estate.

Receivables: Mortgages and unsecured claims.

Commercial Fortune: All elements of business assets.

Life & Pensions: We're talking here about the cash surrender value of life and pension insurance.

Jewellery and Silverware: These are included in this category only if their value exceeds CHF 2,000.

Precious Metals: Gold, silver or platinum, for example.

Livestock: Included here are both dead and live cattle.

Non-Taxable Wealth

Furniture and Collections: Furniture, including artistic and scientific collections that can be considered as such.

In Geneva, collections are generally not taxed. However, this directive is not followed by other cantons. You should therefore contact your local tax authorities for further information.

Clothing: All types of clothing.

Household utensils: The various tools used in the household.

Books: Books for the personal use of the taxpayer and his family.

Retirement savings (LPP): This is the capital paid as part of savings for occupational pension provision (BVG). 

Estimation of Items Subject to Wealth Tax

Moveable Assets

For tax purposes, you will need to provide a bank statement showing balance as at December 31.
The tax value is based on the annual rates of the Federal Tax Administration. The purchase price will be in Swiss francs if there is no exchange rate.
This wil be valued at market value on December 31.

This is based on yield and intrinsic value. The special rules for real estate companies are in accordance with CSI Circular No. 28.

The treatment is similar to Swiss non-listed securities. Detailed financial documents will be required, with an option of Fiscal Ruling.
For this, you will require a certificate signed by debtor.
This is the estimated value for income tax purposes, which is often equivalent to book value.
An insurer's certificate of value will be required on December 31.

Such assets will be valued at resale value under normal market conditions.

Real Estate Assets

The tax value is based on the purchase price indicated in the contract. It is taxable to the owner if subject to usufruct.

The purchase price is converted into Swiss francs using the tax rate for the year of acquisition. It is included only to determine tax rate.

The tax value established by the tax authorities at the time of the donation or inheritance.

Valued according to the current value of the land, buildings and ancillary facilities.

Valued at their yield value, including the part used as housing for farming and forestry operations.

Authorized Debts and Deductions

Deductible debts include unsecured debts, mortgages, justified private debts and negative account balances.

In the geographical breakdown of debts in Switzerland, only the proportional share of debts linked to taxable assets is deductible.

In Geneva, flat-rate deductions are available. These are CHF 82,200 for a single taxpayer and CHF 164,400 for a couple. This means that a taxpayer with assets of less than CHF 82,200 pays no wealth tax, so keep in mind that the wealth tax does not apply to everyone, but only starting at a certain income.

Other flat-rate deductions are available for the self-employed and partners in partnerships.

For more information, please consult this article on tax deductions in Geneva.

Determining Asset Value

To determine the value of a property, you need to know its market value. We'll look at a few examples and give you an idea of how this value is calculated for different properties.

In the case of real estate, for example, unless it is used for agricultural activities, it will generally be valued at market value.

However, this value varies from canton to canton. Some use the market value to estimate how much a property is worth, others use the yield value.

Wealth Tax by Canton

As with income tax, cantons are free to set their own wealth tax rates. Some cantons have decided to keep their tax rates moderate, others a little higher, but with other advantages.

Here's a list to give you an idea of the cantonal and communal taxes for a single person without children. Tax amounts are in CHF.

Township, city100k250k500k1 mio5 mio
AG - Aarau03661106294120409
AI - Appenzell1164621040219511435
AR - Herisau926481637367319953
BE - Bern1536501632411128018
BL - Liestal515712262679237381
BS - Basel283942298605039626
FR - Fribourg1427812014502026188
GE - Geneva816492011548544286
GL - Glarus876051469319717021
GR - Chur604001216298715771
JU - Delémont1736681605398926495
LU - Lucerne1595981331279714522
NE - Neuchâtel28612363420684034200
NW - Stans13131963212596269
OW - Sarnen10632067513867074
SG - Saint-Gall1077461814394721015
SH - Schaffhausen143393995314021122
SO - Solothurn2355781105216013765
SZ - Schwyz1015031005201010050
TG - Frauenfeld04181114250513637
TI - Bellinzona205901749440923770
UR - Altdorf7036184818239623
VD - Lausanne1889222615647838141
VS - Sion2849582205512731345
ZG - Zug0100472175012470
ZH - Zürich49213694211824242

Optimise Wealth Tax

There aren't many options available for lowering the wealth tax rate, but there are a few ideas that can be implemented.

While not the most ideal, using the table above, you can compare and choose a canton to live in with a lower tax rate, thus saving money. 

Another option would be to invest in real estate, as the taxable value of a property will generally be lower than its actual value. 

You can also transfer funds to tax-free assets such as 2nd and 3rd pillars, which will reduce your taxable assets.

Conclusion

Now you know everything about the wealth tax in Switzerland! 

This amount varies according to the canton in which you live. You now know which items are taxable and which are not, as well as the somewhat limited ways of reducing the tax amount.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Unlimited tax liability generally begins when a person takes up residence in Switzerland or starts a tax residence.

It ends with departure from Switzerland or death. Limited liability begins with the acquisition of taxable items in Switzerland and ends with their disappearance.

Surrenderable life insurance policies are taxable as assets. Their tax value is generally equal to the surrender value of the insurance policy.

Non-cancellable insurance policies are not included in taxable assets.

In general, life insurance policies are not subject to wealth tax.

The wealth of minor children is generally added to that of their parents or the person with parental authority until they reach the age of majority, when they begin to be taxed individually on their personal wealth.

Established debts are deductible from the total value of assets to determine taxable net wealth. This includes mortgages, personal loans and other documented debts.

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