Taxes For Members

The 5 most important things to know about your Swiss tax declaration

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
The 5 most important things to know about your Swiss tax declaration
For foreigners, filing Swiss taxes could be a frustrating experience. Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

Tax declarations in most Swiss cantons are due by March 31st. If you are a foreign national, this information will help you navigate the system.


Switzerland’s income tax system is based around the three layers of government: federal, cantonal, and communal. Most of your taxes are collected by the canton in which you live — whether you are a foreign national or not.

Before you begin, get everything ready

You can simplify the process of declaring your taxes by getting all the necessary paperwork ready.

You will need salary statements; year-end statements of all your bank and securities/custody accounts showing interest and
dividends earned; documents regarding purchase and sale of bonds, equities, funds etc.; statements of contributions to private restricted pension plans (pillar 3a); as well as statements of cash values of life insurance(s).

If you have any assets abroad (read more about this below), you will need to include that information as well. 

Basically, anything that you own, whether in Switzerland or abroad, will have to be declared, so make sure you have all your paperwork ready.

Your tax declaration will go through an assessment process by tax authorities.

They may ask for additional information or documents, especially if you have any income or assets abroad.

That’s because everyone living in Switzerland, foreign or not, is liable to pay a wealth tax, levied on all your assets, both in Switzerland and abroad.

READ ALSO: Does everyone have to pay Switzerland's wealth tax? 

Declare ALL your assets

If you have any income or assets in your home country — or anywhere else, for that matter — you must declare them to Swiss authorities.


‘Forgetting’ to declare these holdings on your Swiss tax return may have significant consequences.

That’s because Switzerland has ‘exchange of information’ agreements with more than 100 countries (AEOI), under which it has access to your financial data abroad (and vice-versa).

So if Swiss tax authorities spot some inconsistencies in your tax declaration, or they suspect that you ‘under-reported’ the income / assets you have in a foreign country, you’ll get caught.

Typically, the fine for ‘tax avoidance’ is equal to the difference between the incorrect and the correct amount of taxes due, according to Moneyland consumer platform. 

"Tax avoidance is punishable with a fine of up to 1,000 francs. In extreme cases, or in the case of recurring tax avoidance, a fine of up to 10,000 francs can apply.”


Know what to deduct

Just like Swiss citizens, you too can deduct certain allowances.

Generally speaking, you can 'write off' expenses associated with your work. 

They include a deduction for public transport (if that's how you commute to work, health insurance premiums, debts, as well as childcare and education costs, among other expenses.

READ ALSO: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

This government guide lists all the costs you can deduct from your taxes.

The exact amount of deductions varies from one canton to another. Your local tax administration has the relevant information.

What documents should you enclose with your tax declaration?

It depends on what your canton requires, which will be indicated on their tax office website.

Some may require more supporting documents, while others fewer.

In principle — and if you are not sure what is required and what isn't — you can send in all the documents mentioned under the first point, above.

Your tax authorities will return them to you after they process your form.

When should you send in your tax form?

Tax deadline in most Swiss cantons is on March 31st. This year, however, this day falls on a Sunday (Easter), so you might want to get your forms in a few days before.

READ ALSO: When are the 2024 tax deadlines in each Swiss canton?

Or, if you don't think you will manage to get this done in time, hurry up and ask for a tax filing extension.




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