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Tax Deductions in Switzerland for 2024

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

We all want to pay lower taxes! When you fill out your tax declaration in Switzerland, it is important to take advantage of all possible tax deductions. Tax deductions allow you to reduce your taxable income. Since your taxable income will directly drive your taxes, it is essential to reduce it when possible.

So, in this article, I go into detail about all the possible tax deductions in Switzerland. Hopefully, you will be able to find tax deductions that you did not use before and will be able to reduce your taxes.

I will try to stay generic since many of these tax deductions will differ from canton to canton. The maximums and minimums for each tax deduction will likely change a lot. And the deductions may be different at the federal and the cantonal levels since both have different maximum deductions.

Commute Expenses

A tax deduction that almost everybody can claim is related to commuter expenses. If you need to pay something to go to work, you can deduct these expenses from your income.

First, if you go to work by car, you can deduct the kilometers from your home to your work. If you work full-time, you can deduct a maximum of 220 times the round trip from your home to your work. You also need to justify using a car, but generally, it is not difficult to justify it. For instance, in my case, there is barely any public transportation where I live.

If you go to work by public transportation, you can deduct your public transportation subscription price.

Finally, you can also deduct a flat rate for your bike if you bike to work. Interestingly, most cantons will accept to deduct for both public transportation and bikes if you do both.

Each canton will have a different maximum for this deduction. But this is an important deduction since it can easily account for several thousand Swiss francs removed from your taxable income.

Meal Expenses

If you cannot go home for lunch, you can also deduct your meal expenses. In some cases, you will also be able to deduct your dinner expenses if you cannot even go home for dinner, but you will have to justify it.

In general, you can deduct 15 CHF per meal taken outside of your home. If you have access to a discounted canteen or if your employer contributes to your meals, you will only be able to deduct 7.50 CHF per meal.

Once again, there will be a maximum at the federal and cantonal levels for this deduction. But it is an important deduction since it can be substantial (especially if your company does not have discounted canteen).

Spending nights at the place of work

If your job forces you to spend nights outside of your place of residence, you can deduct your accommodation expenses from your place of work. You will also be able to deduct transportation from your place of residence to your place of work twice a week. In that case, do not forget to claim tax deductions for both meals during the day!

You can also deduct other work-related expenses. For instance:

  • Work clothing
  • Books
  • Hardware and software
  • Courses

You can apply a 3% flat tax deduction from your net income. However, there is a maximum of 4000 CHF per year. If you have higher costs, you can also deduct the effective costs with all the necessary justifications.

If you have to drive at work in your personal car, you will also be entitled to a tax deduction based on the number of kilometers you drive.

Professional Development

If you take significant training to improve your professional career, you can also use it as a tax deduction. If you do a reorientation course to change jobs, this can also be deducted here. In some cases, you can also count language courses in that category.

You will have to justify these expenses, and you will have to pay for them yourself. You cannot deduct it if your company pays for it, as is usually the case.

In some cantons, you can deduct some training without justifications. It is the case in Zurich, but there are probably some other cantons that allow you to do that.

Home Office expenses

Currently, when we are forced to work from home, the situation is confusing. Each canton has announced different sets of rules for home office tax deductions. If you are forced to work at home in most cantons, you can still deduct the same deductions.

But in general, if you are working from home, there are a few things you can deduct :

  • You can deduct the cost of the equipment you use to work at home if your employer does not provide it.
  • You can deduct the rent price of a room if you are using it solely for the home office.

If you are still deducing the same in-office work deductions as before during COVID-19, you will not be able to claim home-office deductions. You will have to choose.

We can expect the rules to change after the COVID-19 situation.

Third Pillar Contributions

The best tax deduction is probably to contribute to your third pillar. Each year, you can contribute up to 7056 CHF (as of 2023) per employed person in your household. So, if you have two employed people in your household, you should contribute to both if you can.

This 7056 CHF per year is removed from your taxable income. This makes a very significant difference to your taxable income. If self-employed, you can contribute up to 20% of your net income into the third pillar, up to a maximum of 35’280 CHF.

Now, you should only invest in a good third pillar. And you should invest your third pillar money in the stock market as much as possible. Otherwise, the returns will be very low. If you do not have a third pillar yet, look at the best third pillar of Switzerland.

If you invest in a great third pillar, this is almost free money. Most other tax deductions will allow you to deduct the money you spend. But this tax deduction allows you to deduct the money you invest, which is much better!

Second Pillar Contributions

You can also get a tax deduction for the money you contribute voluntarily to the second pillar. If you contribute extra to the second pillar, this contribution is tax-deductible.

How much you can contribute depends on your second pillar contribution history You can ask the second pillar provider to know how much you can contribute. This can be a significant amount (sometimes more than 100’000 CHF). So, you can realize huge tax deductions with this technique.

However, this is only interesting if you can access a good second pillar with good returns. And unfortunately, this is not the case for most people. For instance, it returns less than 1% on average, which is pitiful.

Also, you need to ensure you can get a tax deduction. If you have withdrawn money from the second pillar for a house or a startup, your extra contributions will not be tax-deductible until you have repaid what you take out. This is why we do not invest in our second pillar.

If you want to know more, you can check whether you should contribute to your second pillar.

Just like contributions to the third pillar, contributions to the second are almost free money! The issue with the second pillar is that returns, for most people, are pretty bad.

Debt payments

If you have debts and are paying interest payments, you can get a tax deduction from them. For instance, if you have a consumer loan or a mortgage, you can deduct all your interest payments. It is the same for credit card debt, which few people know.

On the other hand, you cannot claim interest payments for leasing since the object (likely a car) does not belong to you during the leasing. This could be why a car loan could be more interesting than leasing sometimes.

You should also not forget to deduct the value of your debts from your taxable net worth. This can make a large difference in your net worth taxes.

Donations

If you donate to a charitable organization, you can get a tax deduction for the donated amount.

The tax office recognizes many non-profit organizations in Switzerland, and you can donate to them to save on taxes. You will have to keep the donation certificates from the non-profit organization for your tax declaration.

The great thing about this deduction is that the limit is very high. At the federal level, you can deduct up to 20% of your net income. At the cantonal level, it will vary from 10% to 20%.

Insurance Premiums

Another good tax deduction is the deduction for insurance premiums.

Since health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland, you are already paying for it. So, it is good to deduct a little money from your taxable income for it.

You can deduct your premiums for health and accident insurance. At the federal level, the maximum is 1700 CHF for singles and 3500 CHF for married couples. Several cantons allow deducting more than that. The issue is that this is much lower than what we are paying. But it is already better than nothing!

In any case, you should try to reduce your health insurance premiums.

Medical Expenses

If you have high medical expenses, you can deduct some of them from your taxable income. These medical expenses include:

  • Doctors
  • Dentist
  • Prescribed medications
  • Glasses and lenses
  • Prescribed care

If you have to pay these from your own pocket (no supplemental insurance or high deductible, or both), you may deduct them from your taxes. However, in most cantons, you can only deduct expenses higher than the minimum of 5% of your net income. So, if your expenses are lower than this minimum, you will not be able to deduct anything. This means that, in most cases, you cannot deduct anything.

Childcare

Childcare in Switzerland is incredibly expensive. Fortunately, you can deduct childcare expenses from your taxable income.

If your child is less than 14 years old and you must pay someone to care for him, you can deduct this. The tax deduction is due for childcare facilities or day nurseries.

The maximum tax deduction is 25’000 CHF at the federal level, while it varies highly for each canton. This is an important deduction that you should not forget since it will make a big difference to your taxable income.

Unfortunately, most cantons will not accept deductions for childcare if one of the spouses is not working. They will assume that the non-working spouse can take care of the child.

Couples

If you are in a couple, there are two different possible tax deductions:

  1. If your spouse does not work, you can deduct 2600 CHF from your taxable income.
  2. If your spouse works, you can get a double-earner tax deduction. This is 50% of the lowest of the two incomes, with a minimum of 8100 CHF and a maximum of 13’400 CHF.

Dependents

If you have children or care for disabled dependents, you can claim up to 6500 CHF per dependent. At the cantonal level, this will vary highly from one place to the other.

If you are divorced and pay alimony to your ex-partner, you can deduct these alimony payments from your taxable income.

You can also deduct gifts you have made to a person who needs this money to live in some cases.

Assets management fees

You can deduct the fees for storing your investment assets:

  • Custody fees
  • Safe deposit box fees
  • Fees for your savings accounts
  • Negative interest rate fees

In most cantons, you can deduct the effective fees or a flat rate. The flat rate is generally a per thousand value of your net worth. In most cases, the flat rate is higher than the effective costs, so it is better and easier to deduct the flat rate.

House Renovations

If you are doing renovation work on your house (painting, kitchen renovations, heating renovations, …), you may be able to get tax deductions. Whether you can deduct it or not depends on the matter of the work:

  1. If the renovations increase the energy efficiency of the house, you can deduct it from your taxable income. For instance, changing your windows to improve insulation or switching to a heat pump.
  2. If the renovations increase the house’s value, you cannot deduct it from your taxable income. For instance, if you add a winter garden to your home.
  3. Other renovations that do not increase the house’s value can be deducted.

If you are planning large work, it may be interesting to spread it over several years. Since tax is progressive, you can save more money over two years than one. But that is only interesting for large expenses.

House Expenses

You can also deduct other house expenses from your taxable income. However, very few of them are tax-deductible, and you will have to check with your canton what you can deduct. One example is the building insurance premium you can deduct in most cantons.

You will add these expenses together with the house renovation costs. And you can choose either a flat rate or an effective tax deduction. If you do not have any renovation work, you should opt for the flat rate that will likely be higher.

Reduce your property rental value

When you are a homeowner living in your home, you will pay taxes on a fake income, the rental value of your home. You are paying taxes as if you were renting it out. This adds to your taxable income. This can significantly increase your taxes.

There is only one way to reduce this property rental value: claim underutilization of the house. This is possible if you have one room in your house that is not being used. You can claim that you do not use this room and ask for it to be removed from the calculation of the rental value. This can make a significant difference in your rental value and hence taxable income.

Of course, you should only do that if the room is really not used. In general, they will ask that the room is really not furnished (empty).

It is also worth knowing that this is always allowed at the federal level, but not all cantons will take this into account. And for this procedure, you will need to ask for a new evaluation of your imputed rental value.

Declare your withholding taxes

Finally, if you have paid withholding taxes, you should not forget to declare them. These withholding taxes will count toward the taxes you have already paid. So, they will effectively reduce the taxes you still have to pay.

You will pay withholding tax on the following gains:

  • Dividend payments
  • Annuities and pensions
  • Lottery gains

If you are using some U.S. ETFs, you can even deduct the withholding that was done at the source by the United States tax office. I have a guide about declaring dividends from U.S. ETFs. However, this deduction is generally not admitted below 100 CHF of foreign withholding.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many possible tax deductions from your taxable income. However, there is no magic deduction that you can do. Some tax deductions are almost free, such as the third and second pillar contributions. However, most deductions only allow you to deduct things you have paid.

So, in general, there is not much you can do to deduct more from your taxes. The most important thing is that you should not forget any tax deductions! You should make sure you are deducting every possible thing you are allowed to.

Swiss taxes may be fair, but they will be the highest item on your budget if you have a significant income. As such, it is important to do everything possible to reduce them to the maximum.

If you want more information, read my guide on Switzerland’s taxes or my article on the marginal tax rate.

Do you know any other tax deductions that we can use?

The best financial services for your money!

Download this e-book and optimize your finances and save money by using the best financial services available in Switzerland!

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Photo of Baptiste Wicht

Baptiste Wicht started thepoorswiss.com in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. Since 2019, he has been saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

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115 thoughts on “Tax Deductions in Switzerland for 2024”

  1. I send money to my parents who life abroad (they are not Swiss) as they need my financial support. Can I deduct that? What is the cap?

    1. This may qualify under “gifts made to made that need them”. But since they are not in Switzerland, this may be more difficult to justify. I would recommend speaking with the tax office about that to be sure.

  2. Hi! Withholding taxes have already been applied to my salaries, however, I would like to apply for some deductions. I have filled the GeTax declaration forms, but at the end it says ‘Total de l’impot: xxx’. This total is a little bit smaller than what has already been withhold from my salary. Does that mean that I will have to pay this ‘Total de l’impot: xxx’ or that I will receive back the difference between this total and what has already been discounted from my salary? Thank you so much

    1. Hi Leticia

      I am not an expert into withholding tax and never touched getax, but if you fill the tax office, normally, it does not take into account what you already paid (unless you typed it in). So, I woudl assume that this is the real total and that if you submit it, you will get back the difference and your withholding taxes will go down.
      Make sure you are 100% sure of what you entered, because once you send it, you can’t go back even if your taxes increase.

  3. Hey Baptiste,

    thanks for the great content once again!
    In what section can we deduct the Assets management fees that you have listed? I didn’t find it easily (Zurich canton).

    And can we deduct also the bank fees (for ex. total price of package including, private and saving accounts, credit cards etc.)?

  4. Hi!
    We haven’t had the best experience with tax advisors here in Switzerland. To do your own taxes is the software only available in DE, FR and IT?
    We’re used to completing our own tax returns at home.
    Cheers!

    1. Hi Luke

      Sorry to hear about your experience.
      Each canton has a different software, so each canton will have different languages. In Fribourg, it’s only available in French and German for instance.

  5. A very useful summary – thank you.
    I have a specific question about medical insurance premiums and expenses for kids.If you have kids in your care but between 18-25 and studying full time, can you claim a deduction for their health insurance premiums and for non-reimbursed medical expenses. At this age, the child must complete their own tax declaration. But if they are studying and have no income they will not pay any tax. However, as a parent, I till pay their health insurance and any other medical costs. Can I deduct these costs on my declaration? Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give.

    1. Hi Nuticel

      Good question and I am not sure. I would think yes because you are paying for it. As long as the children are studying and you are paying for them, I believe you can deduct expenses for them since they are in your charge.

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