Different income tax regulations apply in the various Swiss cantons. Every taxpayer receives the request to submit the tax return from the cantonal tax administration. You must also submit your tax return there. All natural persons must do this.
In all Swiss cantons, tax returns can now be submitted online.
The electronic tax return is advantageous because it saves time and paper. However, there are different requirements for electronic tax returns in different cantons. Various tax return programs are available, but you must take into account for which cantons they can be used.
Tax return possible online in all cantons
The cantonal tax administration responsible for you will ask you to submit your tax return each year. Which rules apply to the tax return depends on the respective canton. In some cantons it is still possible to submit the tax return offline, in paper form. You must sign these. Attach paper receipts for expenses you deduct for tax purposes to your return.
Pay attention to the tax programs
In all cantons you can now also submit your tax return online. Online programs provided by the respective tax administration make it easier for you to file your tax return. Various programs can be used across cantons and are recognized in several cantons. Before you decide to enroll in such a program, find out if it is recognized in your canton. You can also download tax return software from your canton’s homepage.
Tax return possible via browser
Some cantons only provide Excel spreadsheets. To make your tax return easier, you should use a complete online tax program that is recognized in your canton. Not all programs need to be installed on your PC. For the most part, it is sufficient to fill out and submit the tax return via the browser.
How do I send my receipts?
Different regulations apply to the individual cantons regarding the submission of supporting documents. In more and more cantons, for example in Zurich and Schwyz, you can also submit the receipts electronically together with your tax return. You scan the receipts and attach them to your electronic tax return. Such fully digital solutions are now also offered in the cantons of Zug, St. Gallen, Lucerne, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Solothurn.
Advantages of the online tax return
The advantages that online tax returns offer you depend on the respective canton, the requirements there and the online tax programs that can be used. Compared to the tax return in paper form, you enjoy some basic advantages with the digital tax return:
- You do not need to print and sign the papers
- You save postage and the way to the post office
- various explanations facilitate the filling
- for some programs there is a demo version that informs about the filling in
- many programs with intuitive user interface
- You save time
- You save paper and protect the environment
- Tax return is quickly received by the relevant tax office
- Data is transmitted and stored in encrypted form
- Corrections may be submitted by resubmitting.
Access stored data faster
The online tax return often has another decisive advantage. As your data is stored, import of the previous year’s data is possible.
There is a good possibility of comparison. You do not need to re-enter data that is repeated each year. If you previously filed your taxes in paper form, you can switch to online filing. The data of the previous year’s offline tax return can be imported. However, it is not possible to switch back from the online tax return to the offline tax return once you have filed your tax return online and the tax has been assessed.
Requirements for the tax return on the Internet
The cantonal tax administration responsible for you will inform you about what you need to bear in mind when filing an electronic tax return and what requirements apply. You need a PC with Internet access to complete and submit the tax return online.
It also makes sense to have a smartphone, as some cantons offer an app or online tax programs are coupled with an app. You can use your smartphone to photograph and submit the required receipts for your tax return. Depending on the tax program, you may need another program such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. This way you can be sure that the online version works properly on your PC.
Which documents do I need for the tax return?
The receipts you need to submit with your tax return depend on what is tax deductible in your specific case. Submit only the supporting documents that are actually requested. The Senate Office will contact you if additional supporting documentation is needed.
Have the previous year’s data ready, as it may also be relevant for the current tax return. A copy of your most recent tax return is appropriate. If you also filed your tax return online in the previous year, you can access this data because it is stored.
Basically, you need for the tax return:
- Wage statements
- Bank statements
- Receipts for voluntary pension contributions
- Receipts for payments into the pension fund
- Vouchers for securities
- Compilation of professional costs
- Compilation of medical expenses
- Donation receipts
- Evidence of further training
Homeowners must submit documentation of debt interest, property tax, operating and administrative expenses, and invoices for maintenance and renovation work.
Access data for the digital tax return
For the tax return via the Internet, you must create a password. You usually generate this password yourself. Often you need to provide your email address for access. Furthermore,you will need an access code, which you will receive from your tax administration. This access code may be sent to you together with the tax return request. If you have not received an access code, ask your local tax office for one. As a rule, you do not need any further access data for your tax return. If you filed your tax return offline in the previous year, ask the tax administration how you can import the data from the previous year.
Depending on the tax administration and the software provided or the program in question, various security measures apply, such as two-factor authentication. It is possible via app or SMS code.
Help with the tax return
You can fill in the tax return via the Internet on your own. Most programs have fill-in help and explanations. If you need help filling out your tax return, you can ask the relevant cantonal tax office. You can also get help from a professional tax advisor. You can find addresses of tax consultants in your area via industry associations such as Treuhand Schweiz or ExpertSuisse.
Deadlines for the tax return online
If you have been requested to submit a tax return by the cantonal tax office responsible for you, you have 30 days to submit the tax return online. The deadline is indicated on the forms. Apply for an extension of the deadline in time if you do not manage to file the tax return within the specified period. Failure to apply for an extension of time will result in a fine.
Collect receipts throughout the year and make notes for relevant expenses. This will save you time on your tax return and you won’t have to spend a lot of time looking for the receipts.
Is faster processing possible online?
The online submission is quickly received by the tax office, as you save the postal service. However, there is no guarantee that this will be processed faster than a traditional tax return. How long it takes for your tax return to be processed depends on the respective canton and the situation in the tax administration there. In the canton of Zurich, there is a waiting period of five days after receipt of the electronic tax return before processing takes place. Thus, faster processing does not occur for the most part.
Duration of the processing of the tax return
Create everything online and have collected all relevant receipts, it will take 30 minutes to an hour to complete everything, depending on the program. How long the processing takes depends on the respective cantonal tax administration. You should expect a processing time of three to six months.
Correction of your tax return
If you have submitted your tax return to the relevant cantonal tax administration via the Internet, a correction is possible as long as you have not yet received a final assessment. You can submit your corrected declaration online again.