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HEALTH

UPDATE: Switzerland approves 60 percent rent reduction for businesses

Commercial tenants will only be liable for 40 percent of the rent owed during the coronavirus lockdown period, the Swiss government has decided.

UPDATE: Switzerland approves 60 percent rent reduction for businesses
An empty restaurant in Geneva. Image: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The proposal, originally flagged in June and approved on July 1st by the Federal Council, comes after months of disputes surrounding how business owners should be compensated for losses incurred as a result of the government’s lockdown. 

Commercial tenants will now be liable for 40 percent of the agreed rent for the period they were required to close due to the lockdown, with landlords liable for the remaining 60 percent. 

If tenants and landlords have already come to an arrangement about how the rent should be deducted or waived as a result of the lockdown, this will remain valid rather than the new discount arrangement. 

The deal applies to rents up to the value of 20,000 francs per month. The period will be the time in which the business was forced to close due to the coronavirus lockdown. 

The plan is targeted to help smaller and medium-sized tenants, rather than larger companies who are better placed to absorb rental costs. 

While the reduction will apply to 92 percent of commercially rented properties, it will only apply to 44 percent of the total amount of money paid in rent – illustrating just how much is paid by larger tenants. 

Christian Levrat (Social Democrats) said in a statement that while “it is not an ideal situation… it's the best solution given the situation”. 

To help out property owners, the Swiss government has made 20 million francs available for landlords who have been negatively impacted by the lockdown. 

Settling an ongoing dispute

The Council of States approved a previous plan to waive business rents for two months for commercial tenants, however this plan was knocked back by the Federal Council. 

As reported in Swiss daily Watson on June 8th, the parliament offered a compromise deal which was finally accepted by the Federal Council. 

Economy Minister Guy Parmelin opposed the motion, saying a better solution was that adopted for residential tenancies which encouraged landlords and tenants to negotiate a solution. 

 

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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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