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Church tax in Switzerland explained simply – Tax lexicon

Did you know that in Switzerland not only individuals but also companies have to pay church tax? This special tax supplements the normal income tax. It is paid for by church members and is different in every canton.

In Switzerland, the cantonal tax offices take care of church tax. These taxes help to support the churches financially. Both individuals and companies must pay this tax. The rules for this vary depending on the location. Our tax dictionary has all the information you need.

Important findings

  • The church tax supplements the regular income tax for religious denominations.
  • It applies to natural persons and legal entities in Switzerland.
  • The amount and structure of the church tax varies from canton to canton.
  • Some cantons offer tax concessions for church members.
  • The Swiss Tax Dictionary is a reliable source for detailed regulations and their implementation.

What is the church tax in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, members of certain religious communities have to pay a church tax. This tax helps to support the churches financially. It is in addition to the normal income tax.

There are 26 cantons in total, and each canton has its own rules for church tax. Some cantons, such as Ticino, Neuchâtel and Geneva, make the payment voluntary. In many others, however, it is a must.

Four main denominations contribute to the church tax. These include the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Reformed Church, the Christian Catholic Church and the Jewish community. Not all cantons levy church tax on companies, but some do.

There is no church tax in the canton of Vaud. Here, church costs are covered by general taxes. Families with different religious affiliations divide the church tax among themselves.

Church tax depends on income and assets. It varies greatly from canton to canton. People can stop paying by leaving the church.

The amount of church tax depends on the cantonal regulations. How much someone earns and saves also plays a role.

How is church tax calculated in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, church tax varies from canton to canton. It depends on denomination and income. Each canton has its own calculation rules. These can comprise fixed percentages or special coefficients.

Exemplary calculations in various cantons

The method of calculation varies greatly between the cantons. Here are some examples:

Canton Calculation method Church tax (annual, CHF)
Berne 2% of cantonal taxes 220
Zurich 1.5% of the taxable income 330
St. Gallen 3% of income tax 400

As you can see, Bern, Zurich and St. Gallen calculate church tax differently. This affects what people pay each year.

Influence of church tax on the total tax burden

Church tax is only one part of the taxes in Switzerland. It is added to other taxes such as income tax. This can increase the financial burden.

Each canton in Switzerland has its own rules for church tax. This leads to different total charges. It is important to know the regional rules and your own tax situation.

Reclaiming church tax

It is difficult to reclaim church taxes. It depends on the rules of the canton. If you have paid too much church tax, you must follow certain steps. You have to fill in forms and prove that you have paid too much. Tax certificates are often important.

Church tax reclaim process

You start by checking the tax assessment. They look for errors or overpayments. In cantons such as Zurich and St. Gallen, you can apply for a revision. A detailed application is required and deadlines must be observed. For example, in Zurich, receipts for 2013 must be submitted by March 31, 2014.

Important forms for the reclaim

You need special forms to reclaim church tax. These must be filled in correctly. They must be submitted with the necessary supporting documents. In Zurich and St. Gallen, this is only possible if you comply with the rules. Non-denominational and foreign employees in the cantons of BE, UR, SZ, SO, AG and JU have special rules.

Canton Optional payment Recovery periods
Geneva Yes Varies
Neuchâtel Yes Varies
Ticino Yes, with advance notice Varies
Zurich No by March 31 of the following year

Deregistering church tax in Switzerland

Deregistration from church tax in Switzerland follows certain steps. This includes leaving the church. The exact rules may vary from canton to canton.

Requirements for deregistration

Some conditions must be met in order to start the church tax deregistration process:

  • You must submit a formal application to the parish.
  • Some municipalities require proof of resignation from the home country.
  • The fee for deregistration is CHF 29 per person.
  • It is important to register as non-religious in the community. This prevents automatic membership.

Deregistration procedure

The church tax deregistration process takes place in several steps:

  1. You must send a written declaration to the municipality.
  2. It may be necessary to deregister with the church in your home country.
  3. There are cantonal differences in the deregistration process that must be taken into account.
  4. The municipality needs all the necessary documents to finalize the tax.

Criterion Description
Fee CHF 29 per person
Necessary documents Formal application, possibly certificate of departure from home country
Registration Registration as non-religious with the municipality

Deregistration from church tax is handled discreetly. First and foremost, it means the end of membership and tax liability in Switzerland.

Church tax assessment notice and its significance

The church tax assessment is important for church tax in Switzerland. It tells you how much church tax you have to pay. This depends on income and assets. The decision is clear and easy to understand.

The structure of the church tax assessment

A church tax assessment notice clearly displays all the important information. These include:

  • Personal data of the taxpayer
  • Calculation bases such as income and tax rate
  • The exact amount of church tax
  • When and how you can pay
  • Ways to raise an objection

Appeal against the church tax assessment

If you have problems with the decision, you can lodge an appeal. It works like this:

  1. A formal complaint is submitted
  2. The authority or a court examines the case
  3. The decision may be amended or revoked

Deadlines and the right documents are important for success. If necessary, you can take further steps and, for example, file a lawsuit. There are additional legal remedies for this.

Country Church tax regulation
Switzerland Church tax regulated by the cantons
Denmark Church tax varies locally, up to 7%
Finland Church tax 1% to 2% of taxable income
Iceland Monthly fee “sóknargjald” of 898 Icelandic kroner
Italy 0.8% income tax for specific purposes through “8 per mille”
Spain 0.7% of taxes to the Catholic Church or other purposes

Understanding how the church tax assessment notice is structured and what to do in the event of problems helps. This way you can avoid tax problems.

Church tax in Switzerland in 2022: changes and trends

There were important changes to church tax in 2022. These concerned both the type of collection and how the money is used. Church taxes Switzerland 2022 will have a major impact. They influence the taxpayers and the churches themselves.

Relevant legislative changes

In 2022, the tax rates and the list of tax exemptions changed. Certain groups now have to pay less tax or none at all. The administrative process was also improved. The aim was to make everything more efficient and transparent.

Trends and developments

One important trend is more money for social projects. For example, the church tax supported Caritas Zurich with 2.5 million francs. Almost a quarter of Caritas Zurich’s funding comes from the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church in Zurich supports many social and cultural projects. Around 40% of its income flows into these areas. In 2023, the church collected 118 million from private individuals and 78 million from companies.

The 74 parishes in Zurich spent 31.6 million on social welfare. The cantonal church invested 21.8 million in social projects. 39% of its total budget supports 47 employees in social work.

Financing Amount (in millions of CHF)
Caritas Zurich (Annual) 2.5
Funds from Catholic Body 25%
Revenues Catholic Church (natural persons, 2023) 118
Revenue Catholic Church (legal entities, 2023) 78
Diaconal expenditure (parishes, 2022) 31.6
Cantonal church expenditure (total, 2022) 21.8
Total budget for social activities 39%
Number of employees for social work 47

In summary, the trends show that more money is flowing into social and cultural projects. This is made possible by the church tax.


In Switzerland, church tax is a complex issue. In 20 cantons, not only individuals but also companies pay this tax. This has triggered discussions, especially among young members of two political parties. They want to abolish the tax for companies and call it a relic from the old days.

In some cantons, there are already efforts to abolish church tax for companies. Decisions are imminent in Graubünden and Zurich. Without this tax, companies could be financially relieved. This could lead to more investment and jobs. On the other hand, church institutions could run into financial difficulties, similar to those in Geneva and Neuchâtel.

Switzerland’s highest court has confirmed the church tax. However, it says that changes are possible at cantonal level. A study shows that church members in Switzerland have a say in how taxpayers’ money is spent. This is different from Germany and Austria. There is also discussion about whether individuals should no longer pay, which would be a major change.

The future of church tax in Switzerland depends on many factors. Discussions about this are taking place at both cantonal and national level. The decisions on this could significantly change the system. You can read more about this topic in this article.


What is church tax in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, church tax is an additional tax for church members. It is levied on the basis of income. The cantonal tax authorities are responsible for this.

How is church tax calculated in Switzerland?

The calculation depends on the canton. The church affiliation and the taxpayer’s income and assets are important.

Can I reclaim an overpayment of church tax?

Church tax paid in excess can be refunded. There is a process for this that follows cantonal rules. You need certain forms and proof.

How can I deregister from church tax in Switzerland?

A formal application is required for deregistration. The procedure varies from canton to canton.

What is a church tax assessment notice?

This is an official document. It shows how much church tax you have to pay. If there are any discrepancies, you can contest it.

Were there any changes to church tax in Switzerland in 2022?

Changes could happen in 2022. This information is important for taxpayers.

What are the requirements for leaving the church in Switzerland?

You have to meet certain criteria. A written declaration to the municipality is required. The requirements vary from canton to canton.

What documents do I need to reclaim the church tax?

You need special forms and evidence. For example, tax certificates that show that you have paid too much.

How does the church tax affect my overall tax burden?

The church tax increases the tax burden together with other taxes. Income and church membership are important factors.

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