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Time to tackle tax: the tax form is one of the more laborious tasks you face in Switzerland and, as the fiscal year corresponds to the calendar year, you will have received your 2012 tax form by now. Here are some tips to help you complete it.

Who completes a tax form?

If you earn less than CHF 120,000 (gross), are not a property owner and your employer deducts tax directly from your monthly income, you probably will not have to complete a Swiss tax return. However, if you feel that certain deductions (see below) would impact your taxable income and may not be apparent to your cantonal tax office, write to them at the end of the applicable tax year with your receipts to request a refund. If you do not fall into the above categories, it is likely that you will need to complete a tax return.

Completing your tax form

1. Create a checklist and a file: We recommend getting organised early in the year and keeping records updated. Organised records make completing the tax form easier, ensuring deductions are not missed, and thus reducing your tax advisor's bill.

TIP: Most tax-related documents arrive in January However, for owners of shares or bonds, the dividends are paid throughout the year. The bank will send you the receipts following a dividend payout, which should be filed. For a fee, the bank can provide a summary, detailing dividends and the balance on 31 December.

2. Your tax form will arrive in February and you must return it within 30 days. Extensions of the deadline are possible check if you are eligible. File your tax return in one go. Divide the tax form into two parts: income and wealth, each divided into earnings and deductions. Both income and wealth are taxable but deductions are allowed.

TIP: Wealth tax is levied on the value of your worldly assets, minus any debts. It is levied at cantonal and local levels. Assets include life insurances, bank account statement details which are included with the income statements, details of material items such as cars, details of other assets such as jewellery or paintings, debts and loan statements, and details of undistributed inheritance. Check whether you are eligible for any deductions with our list below.

3. To complete the 'income' section, find your salary statement, which should have been provided by your employer in January for the previous year. Details of other income--including spouse or part-time work, and benefits including income earned outside Switzerland--are also required.

DEFINITION: Imputed rental income is a cantonal estimate of the rent a home owner would pay for the house or apartment they five in. If you cannot find the document, or do not know the amount, ask at your municipal office.

4. Sign and date your return. It must also be signed by your spouse, if appropriate. Keep a complete copy for your records. If you decide to use a financial adviser, we recommend you agree a flat fee and deliver all your documents in one go.


* Mortgage interest and loans (to a certain limit)

* Employment expenses (usually incur a standard deduction, but most cantons allow a deduction of employment expenses which exceed the standard deduction. Receipts and proof are required)

* Home office (deduction if you designate a room at home for business. Your employer may have to confirm that you are required to work from home)

* Further education, including improving professional skills and re-training (deductible at federal level, including variation between the cantons)

* Pillar 2 (additional contributions to corporate pension plans are fully deductible--see below. A receipt and a copy of the signed agreement are required)

* Pillar 3a (contributions to personal pension accounts or insurance plans are deductible providing a receipt is provided--see below)

* Health insurance premiums

* Alimony, dependants and child support (alimony payments to a divorced or separated spouse are deductible in all cantons and at federal level. Deductions for the support of dependants are available under federal and all cantonal income tax statutes)

* Charitable contributions made to qualified organisations (deductible as long as the deductions are itemised)

* Property maintenance and administration costs

Tax-saving tips

1. Make a voluntary contribution to Pillar 2 (corporate pension): ask your Human Resources department about any potential shortfall in your pension, and if one exists consider making a voluntary contribution.

2. Open a Pillar 3a personal account: if you are an employee or are self-employed, consider opening a Pillar 3a bank account. Contributions are deductible from income and no tax is levied on the interest. For an employee the maximum contribution for 2013 is CHF 6,739, while for the self-employed or persons not belonging to a pension fund it is twenty per cent of their net earned income, to a maximum of CHF 33,696.

3. Move to a new community: moving a short distance to a different community or canton may reduce taxes considerably. Tax is usually paid for the calendar year to the canton and community where you are registered on 31 December.

Brien Donnellon

Brien Donnellon is the owner of KEY INVESTMENT. a financial services company providing unbiased financial advice and solutions for Swiss-based expatriates, HR departments and foreign investors. The company, formed in 1997, is authorised and regulated by the Swiss Federal Banking Commission.

For further information: 081 257 13 14
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Title Annotation:business: finance column
Author:Donnellon, Brien
Publication:Swiss News
Article Type:Calendar
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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