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This is how many millionaires live in Switzerland

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the number of millionaires in Switzerland rose in 2020.

This is how many millionaires live in Switzerland
Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP

The number of millionaires in Switzerland increased by 13.9 percent from 2019 to 2020

In total, there are 438,000 millionaires in Switzerland – meaning the country has the seventh most millionaires of anywhere in the world. 

The figures, compiled by consulting firm Capgemini, are based on US dollars rather than Swiss francs. However, with the exchange rate nominally the same, the figure is unlikely to be dramatically different. 

READ MORE: Which Swiss canton has the most millionaires?

The study looked not only at bank balances but also at all disposable assets. 

Number of millionaires worldwide growing

Nevertheless, Switzerland’s development is fully in line with the global trend: the rich are getting richer – and at a much faster rate than everyone else.

READ ALSO: One percent of Germans ‘own 30 percent of country’s wealth’

According to Capgemini, the number of dollar millionaires worldwide also rose by almost nine percent last year – despite trade wars and geopolitical tensions.

The report estimates that the net worth of wealthy people across the world climbed to 74 trillion dollars at the end of 2019, up 8.7 percent from 2018 and 46 trillion dollars in December 2012.

The population of millionaires reached almost 20 million, including 183,400 with a net worth above 30 million dollars, compared to 18 million dollars in 2018 and just 12 million dollars in 2012.

USA at the top of rich-boom

Here’s one reason for the millionaire boom– fuelled by low interest rates, many real estate prices have risen sharply despite the fact that the economy has already been weakening in 2019.

This was particularly noticeable in the US, where the phenomenon was exacerbated by the consequences of a tax reform where US President Donald Trump massively relieved the burden on companies and corporations.

And now for the technical part: the major US stock market indices all rose rapidly: the S&P went up by almost 29 percent, the Dow Jones by 22 percent, and the Nasdaq increased by more than 35 percent.

This is one of the reasons why the USA is at the top of this year’s rich-boom: the number of millionaires there rose by eleven percent or almost 600,000 to 5.9 million. In 2019, for the first time since 2012, the increase was also higher in North America and Europe than in the Asia-Pacific region (plus 8 percent).

On the list Japan came second after the US with 3.4 million millionaires, followed by Germany, China (1.3 million in 2019) and France (0.7 million).

However, the outlook for 2020 is likely to be significantly different in view of the recession triggered by the pandemic.

According to estimates, investment markets lost up to 18 trillion dollars during the coronavirus crash on the stock markets in March.

Since then, however, there’s been some recovery on the stock markets. We’ll have to wait and see if the crisis seriously impacts the pockets of the super wealthy.

 

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Switzerland: How to get money back when cross-border shopping in Germany

Crossing into Germany to go shopping is usually cheaper - and that’s before you add the tax savings. Here’s how you can claim back tax when shopping in Germany.

Switzerland: How to get money back when cross-border shopping in Germany

There are a range of reasons why most things are cheaper in Germany than in Switzerland. 

While there are some exceptions to this – the most notable one being petrol – generally speaking you pay a premium on goods purchased in Switzerland. 

EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

If you shop in Germany, you can also save on VAT, which is generally 19 percent and added to most goods. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What are the tax rules for shopping in Germany? 

Residents of Switzerland, as a non-EU country, do not need to pay VAT in Germany on purchases over 50 euros. 

Your country of residence rather than nationality is important here. 

Therefore, a German living in Switzerland and shopping in Germany does not need to pay the tax. 

A Swiss living in Germany however would need to pay the amount. 

Importantly, you need to physically be in Germany when you make the purchase. 

In order to qualify for the tax exemption, you must bring the goods back to Switzerland with you. 

The specific rules for this are laid out by German Customs here, but they need to be either in your carry on or checked baggage, or in a car that you are travelling in personally. 

These rules are to ensure people are buying the goods for themselves rather than intending to sell them on. 

What kind of goods? 

Goods bought in Germany and taken back to Switzerland are exempt from VAT. 

You will generally however be required to pay tax on services rendered or completed in Germany. 

For instance, bus or train tickets in Germany, restaurant bills, hotel stays, massages etc. 

There are also a range of rules which apply to vehicles. 

If you are getting your car repaired, filling up with petrol, affixing bumpers, mirrors or other additions or even getting a car wash, you will need to pay VAT. 

How do I get the money back? 

Unfortunately, you do not get a discount at the place of purchase.

Instead, you need to claim the money back after you have purchased the product on which you paid the tax. 

In most large stores or shopping centres, you will be able to do this on site. 

You need to have a copy of the receipt and fill in the VAT refund form (Ausfuhrschein) with your name, address and Swiss residency permit number. 

You can get one of these forms at larger stores or you can download it and print it here. 

You will need to do one for each invoice. 

Once you have done that, you can take the completed form to the German customs office (Zoll), which you can find at most border crossings and get the paper stamped. 

Then, you need to return the paper to the place of purchase, where they will issue with a refund of the VAT. 

Some stores require you to return after three months, some six and some 12, so be sure to check the store policy. 

Note that some online stores will automatically deduct the VAT if you have a Swiss delivery address. 

Cost of living in Switzerland: How to save money if you live in Zurich

One thing to keep in mind however is that Switzerland charges its own VAT, which is either 2.5 percent or 8 percent. More on that below. 

What’s with all this paper? 

For anyone who’s spent even a few hours in Germany, the country’s reluctance to embrace digital methods of payment and record keeping is clear. 

While cash remains king in many stores and restaurants, claiming back money from shopping in Germany is also a paper-heavy endeavour. 

Fortunately for people not so keen on paperwork, a change is afoot – although exactly when it will take place remains unclear. 

In February 2022, the German government announced it had kicked off a project to make a digital export certificate possible. 

In addition to saving time and paper, the government indicated it expected to save around 6.2 million euros in personnel expenses as around 100 customs officers are currently assigned to the Swiss border alone. 

No deadline has been given for when the change will come into effect. 

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

Swiss customs rules

When bringing goods into Switzerland, you will need to pay VAT if the amount exceeds 300 francs. 

While border patrols are rare, those who make a habit of exceeding this amount – even if it is for goods for personal use – run the risk of falling foul of the authorities. 

There are several different rules in place for bringing in different items, including meats, cheeses and alcohol. 

The limits for each of these items can be found here. 

Keep in mind that while the CHF300 applies now, Switzerland is set to reduce this to CHF50 in the future – although final approval of this has not yet been secured. 

Tax change: Switzerland to introduce 50 franc limit on cross-border shopping

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