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HEALTH

Switzerland: Cross-border shoppers fined for breaching coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Despite the recent relaxations along the Swiss border, crossing into Switzerland to go shopping - even for those with valid entry documents - is prohibited.

Over the weekend, 40 fines were issued by border guards for people crossing into Switzerland to go shopping. 

Switzerland’s Federal Customs Administration changed its way the borders were controlled in recent days, moving from complete controls at border crossings to doing so on the basis of risk. 

According to Swiss daily 20 Minutes, this encouraged residents of border regions to try their luck crossing into Switzerland to go shopping – with at least 40 caught. 

Each person caught was levied with a CHF100 fine. 

Cross-border shopping has been prohibited in Switzerland since April 16th, even for people who possess sufficient documents which allow them to cross the border. 

Coronavirus: Switzerland prohibits cross-border shopping

Authorities last week pointed out that people living in border regions were not prohibited from shopping when they were on Swiss soil, but were prohibited from crossing the border for the purpose of doing so. 

In addition to the 100 franc fine, cross-border shoppers will be required to pay VAT if the purchase is over 300 francs – although they will be allowed to keep their purchases. 

 

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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