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HEALTH

Swiss animal authority warns against putting masks on pets

An animal protection association in Zurich has criticised pet owners putting coronavirus masks on their dogs or cats.

Swiss animal authority warns against putting masks on pets
A man poses with his mask-wearing dog. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The Katzenheim Schnurrli Foundation in Zurich launched a campaign in early August to stop pet owners covering the mouths of their dogs and cats with coronavirus masks. 

Under the moniker “No masks for animals – this is cruelty!” the foundation said that pet owners should use their common sense. 

Claudia Hitz, managing director of the Katzenheim Schnurrli Foundation, told Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes that many pet owners in Switzerland thought putting masks on their animals may protect them from the virus.

“The panic and uncertainty due to the corona virus is great in the population,” Hitz said. 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's new compulsory mask requirement 

“We suspect that the owners believe they are protecting the animal from infection.”

She said the foundation had received several calls from animal lovers “asking whether or not it was OK to put masks on the animals”. 

A spokesperson for the Animal Law Foundation told 20 Minutes “masks can cause significant stress in animals, cause shortness of breath and panic.” 

“Masks endanger animal welfare. Whoever forces such a thing on them acts cruelly.”

While dogs and cats can contract coronavirus, the risk of catching the virus is lower than in humans, as is the mortality rate. 

Masks have been compulsory on public transport for people in Switzerland since July 6th. 

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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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