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HEALTH

In pictures: Poverty-stricken residents queue for food in Geneva

Despite being in one of the richest cities in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, the impact of the coronavirus has hit some residents of Geneva particularly hard.

In pictures: Poverty-stricken residents queue for food in Geneva
A man rests on a bench beside a queue of people waiting for free food in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Each Saturday, thousands of people queue for free food which is handed out by a team of 300 volunteers. 

The food is provided by a coalition of charities and NGOs, including Medecins Sans Frontieres and Caravane de Solidarite. 

A representative from Caravane de Solidarite told AFP earlier in May that more and more people are showing up week after week. 

READ: Coronavirus crisis lays bare poverty in Geneva as thousands queue for food 

Nicknamed as the city’s ‘invisible poor’ by Swiss media, those queuing range from locally-born Swiss to documented and undocumented immigrants from a diverse variety of nations including Eritrea, Kurdistan, Morocco and the Philippines. 

According to volunteers, the numbers of those seeking assistance have grown every week. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A queue of people waiting for food in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

People queuing for food in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

A man and his dog wear masks while queuing for food in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

According to on-site volunteers, many of those queuing were families. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Tens of thousands of bags of groceries have been given away since the program started. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In addition to food, other essentials such as hand sanitiser have been given out. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A child plays next to the queue. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

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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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