Taxes For Members

Reader question: Where do I pay taxes if I move from one Swiss canton to another?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: Where do I pay taxes if I move from one Swiss canton to another?
If you move to another canton, your taxes will change. Photo: Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

Paying taxes is never a simple matter in Switzerland (or elsewhere, for that matter), but it can become even more complex if you change your place of residence during the fiscal year.


As you know by now if you have lived in Switzerland for a while, you file your income tax in the canton where you live, according to its tax rate — each canton has its own rate, some higher than others (see below).

The canton collects not only its own taxes, but the federal and municipal ones as well, which it then distributes to these authorities.

But what happens if you move? Which canton gets your taxes?

You may think, given the complexity of navigating among various administrative tasks, that you will have to jump through hoops (figuratively speaking, of course) to get your taxes settled between your former and current place of residence.

But in this case, you will be pleasantly surprised: according to Swiss law, your tax bill for the whole year is based on where you were living on December 31st.


Whether you moved in January, June or even December, you will file your taxes for that year in the new canton.

Tax authorities there will then figure out, based on your length of residence in the old and new place, which canton gets what portion of your taxes, and forward what is due to your former one.

So when you fill out your tax declaration in the new canton, you have to indicate when you moved there the previous year, as well as where you lived before, providing exact dates for each location.

You may  say what you will about Swiss bureaucracy, but in this case at least, you don’t have the burden of having to figure out yourself what you owe to whom.

That would be a major headache because taxation rates are different depending on where you live.

Zug or Geneva — you either win or lose (tax-wise)

Obviously, if you relocate from a canton with a notoriously high tax rate, like Geneva, to one with a famously low one — Zug, Appenzeller-Innerhoden, or Obwalden — you will end up paying lower taxes, sometimes by much.

In these three small cantons, for instance, the  rate for all federal, cantonal and communal income taxes, ranges between 22.4 and 24.3 percent — well below the national average of 33.7 percent.

Compare that to Geneva’s tax rate — the highest in the country — of 44.8 percent, followed by Basel-Country (42.17 percent), Vaud (41.5 percent) and Bern (41 percent).

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How where you live in Switzerland impacts how much income tax you pay 


What happens if you move to a different municipality within the same canton?

The change in your taxes will be minimal.

The cantonal rate will remain the same and only the communal will change, either downward or upward.

However, as it is a set percentage of the cantonal tax, so you won’t likely even feel the difference — just see it on paper.

READ MORE: Five essential things to know about Swiss taxes before deadline day


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