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Gift tax in Switzerland explained simply – Tax lexicon

Did you know that the Federal Council passed important changes on 15.12.2023? These amendments relate to the Secondary Credit Market Promotion Act. For example, § 2a ErbStG was introduced. These changes are a response to the modernization of partnership law. They have a strong influence on gift tax in Switzerland.

Gift tax is an important part of tax advice in Switzerland. The tax class and the tax-free amount are particularly important here. Because they determine how much tax you have to pay.

New regulations, such as those in the Inheritance and Gift Tax Act, have been introduced. They help to update and standardize the regulations.

Key takeaways

  • Amendments to the Secondary Credit Market Promotion Act strengthen the relevance of gift tax.
  • § Section 2a ErbStG comes into force in response to the Act on the Modernization of Partnership Law.
  • The tax class and tax-free amount are decisive for the amount of tax payable.
  • Current legal adjustments and regulations are essential for correct tax calculation.
  • Gift tax in Switzerland plays an important role in tax advice.

Introduction to gift tax

Gift tax in Switzerland covers gifts between living persons. This includes real estate, company shares or cash. It supplements the inheritance tax.

The tax system often adapts in order to stay up to date. This way, both the giver and the recipient know the latest rules. This helps them to save taxes.

Various gifts are exempt from tax. For example, honorary gifts or legal entities in Zurich with tax exemption.

  • Anyone who receives a gift must submit a tax return within three months.
  • The donor and the donee are jointly responsible for the tax.
  • You can deduct up to 5,000 francs.
  • However, this deduction only applies once every five years, even if several gifts are made.

It is wise to inform yourself about the rules. This allows donors to save tax. This supports the children’s finances.

“Gifts are not only generous, they are also important for tax planning.”

The tax rates change depending on the degree of relationship. Closer relatives pay less tax. This keeps the assets in the family.

Degree of relationship Tax rate
Siblings 5,25%
Nephews and nieces 8,25%
Great-nephews and great-nieces 10,50%

Gift tax plays an important role in the Swiss tax system. Every citizen should understand them.

Important allowances and tax brackets

When it comes to gift tax, allowances and tax brackets are key. You determine how large the tax-free portion of gifts is. This often depends on how close the giver is to the recipient. We will now go through the important details and specific allowances set out in the law.

General information

The Gift Tax Act stipulates how gifts are taxed. There are different tax brackets, depending on how the people relate to each other. For example, gifts between spouses often remain tax-free as long as they do not exceed a certain value. Taxes are usually higher for more distant relatives or strangers. These rules ensure that gift tax is managed fairly.

Allowances in detail

Exactly how high the allowances are depends on the relationship with the donor. The rules in the German Gift Tax Act also play a role. These allowances are particularly important when it comes to gifts to children or partners. In Germany there are the following important tax brackets and gift tax allowances:

Receiver Allowance Tax rate
Spouses €500.000 7% – 30%
Children €400.000 7% – 30%
Grandchildren €200.000 7% – 30%
Other relatives €20.000 15% – 50%

These allowances show that the tax laws favor closer relatives. It is wise to know your own tax bracket and tax-free allowances. This is the best way to take advantage of tax opportunities. The gift tax allowance may be used again every ten years. This makes long-term financial planning easier.

Gift tax in Switzerland

In Switzerland, we have to pay gift tax together with inheritance tax. As cantons regulate tax, the tax rules for gifts differ. So we pay a different tax rate in every canton.

How much gift tax you have to pay depends on the canton. A gift tax calculator helps to estimate the taxes. Note that multiple gifts can be taxed at a higher rate than individual gifts.

A special law applies in Switzerland in the case of multiple gifts. It adds up all gifts to a person in a certain period of time. There are tax allowances for the first gift. All further gifts pay full tax.

How high the gift tax is depends on the relationship to the recipient and the size of the gift. Some cantons waive gift tax for family members such as spouses or children.

Canton Maximum tax rate Gifts to spouses Gifts to children
Zurich 49,50% Free 10%
Berne 10% Free 5%
Geneva 6% Free 2%

Use your canton’s gift tax forms to get everything right. These forms help you to calculate and declare the tax correctly.

Tax exemptions and special regulations

There are special regulations for gifts in Switzerland. Under certain conditions, these may be exempt from tax.

Legal basis

Since January 1, 2020, certain rules for inheritance and gift taxes have applied in Switzerland. Inheritance tax is only levied at cantonal level, not by the federal government. This is unique in the Swiss tax landscape.

Only Schwyz and Obwalden do not levy inheritance tax. In comparison, almost all other industrialized countries have inheritance taxes. Switzerland is following this trend, but with local peculiarities.

There are special tax advantages for gifts to children or as part of an inheritance. This can ease the financial burden on families.

Special cases

Some gifts may be tax-privileged. Especially when it comes to buying or building your own home. Or in the case of gifts in the context of succession. It is important to fill in the correct forms.

The cantonal tax administration provides information on tax exemptions. In 2020, these rules applied throughout Switzerland. Those who meet the requirements can benefit from inheritance tax exemptions.

Here is a table showing the differences in the cantons:

Canton Collection of inheritance tax Special regulations
Sweden No inheritance tax N/A
Austria No inheritance tax N/A
Switzerland (with the exception of SZ and OW) Cantonal Cantonal exemptions possible


Gift tax in Switzerland is handled differently depending on the canton. Schwyz and Obwalden, for example, do not levy such taxes. On the other hand, Lucerne has introduced an inheritance tax. Each canton has its own rules on tax exemptions and allowances.

It is important to find out about the various allowances and tax brackets. This allows you to keep taxes low on gifts. A gift tax calculator can help you get an initial overview. This helps to comply with all laws.

International tax rules should not be forgotten either. For example, Germans in Switzerland may still be liable to pay tax in Germany under certain circumstances. The same applies to US Americans who own more than USD 60,000. Such rules make the process difficult, but they also offer opportunities.

A good understanding of these rules will help with gift tax planning. Use the gift tax allowance and other online help. Don’t forget to check all details carefully and use forms correctly.


What is the gift tax in Switzerland?

Gift tax in Switzerland is levied on gifts of tangible assets. This includes things like houses, company shares or cash gifts. It supplements the inheritance tax.

How high are the gift tax allowances in Switzerland?

The gift tax allowances vary depending on the relationship between the donor and the recipient. Children and life partners receive more tax-free allowances. This helps to pay less tax.

What tax brackets are there for gift tax?

There are different tax classes that influence the tax. Children belong to a tax bracket that requires less tax. Compared to other people or strangers, this is an advantage.

How can I calculate the amount of gift tax?

Online calculators are available for an initial calculation. But the exact amount depends on the rules in the canton.

Are gifts to children tax-deductible?

Yes, in some cases you can deduct gifts to children from your taxes. This is the case, for example, when it comes to an inheritance or the purchase of a house.

Are there tax exemptions for gifts in Switzerland?

There are exceptions to the gift tax. These are based on the nature and reason for the gift. Some gifts do not have to be taxed.

What forms do I need for gift tax in Switzerland?

You need official forms from the canton. They ensure that all laws are complied with.

How will changes to the German Gift Tax Act affect my gifts?

Changes can affect allowances and tax brackets. It is important to stay informed in order to take advantage of tax benefits.

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