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Property gains tax in Switzerland explained simply – Tax lexicon

In Switzerland, there are many taxes and fees that finance tourism. These include tourism taxes and promotion taxes. Property gains tax in Switzerland is particularly interesting. This tax is levied when you sell real estate and make a profit. It affects individuals and companies.

The rules for this are different in every canton. This affects how much tax you have to pay. It is therefore important to have a good understanding of property gains tax law.

Key findings:

  • Property tax in Switzerland varies considerably depending on the canton.
  • It affects not only private individuals, but also companies.
  • The tax burden can be optimized through various deductions and regulations.
  • A thorough knowledge of the cantonal regulations is required in order to take advantage of tax benefits.
  • The tax on the sale of real estate in Switzerland is a complex area that requires careful consideration.

Introduction to property gains tax

Property gains tax is very important for real estate sales in Switzerland. It depends on the sales proceeds. The tax rates vary depending on the location.

When selling a property, the proceeds can often far exceed the purchase price. Tax therefore plays a major role. Value appreciation is influenced by many factors, including land use and the attractiveness of the location.

In addition, spatial planning by the public sector has a strong impact on the value of a property. This affects the tax on profits from property sales.

What is property gains tax?

Property gains tax is governed by Swiss tax law. It must be paid if a property is sold at a profit. Purchase and renovation costs may be deducted from the sales price. Brokerage fees and special contributions also reduce the tax.

History and development

Since the 1960s, demand for vacation apartments has been on the rise in Switzerland. This shows how important property gains tax has become. The tax rules also show the importance of the real estate sector for the country.

There are various ways to optimize taxes. This diversity is a result of Switzerland’s political and economic development.

Calculation of property gains tax

Calculating property gains tax is not easy. It depends on many things. The net profit from the sale of a property is very important. The profit is the difference between the selling price and the cost of acquisition.

Basic calculation formula

The formula for the tax looks like this:

Taxable profit = sales price – acquisition costs – investments that can be offset

Taxes get higher the more you earn. The length of time you have owned the property also plays a role. For example: In Zurich, you pay up to 50% more tax if you have owned the property for less than a year. In Bern, on the other hand, you can pay less if the property has been owned for more than five years.

Deductions and allowances

Deductions are important for the calculation of property gains tax. You can reduce the tax by deducting sales costs and investments. In many cantons there are also tax-free allowances.

There are allowances in various cantons:

  • In Basel-Stadt there is a CHF 500 tax-free allowance.
  • In Lucerne, the figure is CHF 13,000.
  • Thurgau, Ticino, Valais and Neuchâtel offer between CHF 30 and CHF 100.

In Uri, there is a general reduction of CHF 10,000 per year for property sales. In Schwyz, the figure is CHF 2,000.

The amount of profit and regional rules influence the taxes and duties on sales. It is therefore important to know the specific rules in detail. So you understand how much you have to pay.

If the seller does not pay the property gains tax, the property can be encumbered. The new owner may then have to pay the tax. Buyers are often cautious and set aside the tax amount, or they use an escrow account.

Taxation of property gains on the sale of real estate

The taxation of property gains changes depending on how you sell. Private individuals and companies must observe various rules. These rules determine how much tax they have to pay.

Tax aspects for private individuals

For private individuals, the tax depends on the profit made on the sale of real estate in Switzerland. You can deduct costs and investments to calculate the taxable profit. This ensures that private sales are taxed fairly.

Tax aspects for companies

Companies that want to sell real estate in Switzerland have additional tax advantages. You may deduct depreciation and other expenses. There are also special rules that are tailored to their needs. This enables companies to plan and make decisions more effectively.

Aspect Private individuals The company
Tax rate (depending on canton) Variable Variable
Deductible costs Acquisition costs, investments Acquisition costs, operating depreciation and amortization
Special regulations None Yes, depending on the company structure

In summary, the sale of real estate in Switzerland offers a complex tax environment for private individuals and companies. Taxes can be optimized with good planning and advice.

Different regulations in the cantons

Property gains tax is due on the profitable sale of real estate or land. The amount of this tax varies depending on the canton and the duration of ownership. It is levied by the municipality and the canton. The tax rates in Switzerland vary greatly.

Cantonal differences

The calculation of this tax is based on the sales price minus the investment costs. In St. Gallen, it is CHF 75,476 after 5 years and CHF 69,815 after 20 years. Sometimes the payment of tax can be postponed. This applies to inheritances or separations, for example. If the tax is not paid, there is a threat of a lien.

Example: Canton of Zurich vs. canton of Vaud

Zurich and Vaud have their own rules for property gains tax. In Zurich, the tax is halved after 20 years of ownership. However, the conditions in Vaud are different.

shows how cantonal particularities influence the tax.


Property gains tax in Switzerland is complex. There are different regulations and deductions. You can choose between the market value 20 years ago or the actual investment costs. This can lead to major differences.

A calculation of the market value from 20 years ago can be requested in the tax return. This helps to save taxes.

In the canton of Zurich, savings of up to 50 percent can be made after 20 years. The tax is based on the increase in value of a property. The rise in real estate prices has increased profits for sellers and income for the public sector.

There are many ways to reduce the tax burden. Investments that increase the value reduce the tax. In certain cases, payment can be deferred, as in the case of a replacement purchase. It is important to know the local regulations.

Knowledge of the cantonal regulations is important in order to save taxes effectively. With its 86-page brochure, the Swiss tax system is very complex. It is worth taking a close look at this in order to take advantage of the benefits.


What is property gains tax?

Property gains tax is a tax on the profit from the sale of real estate. It applies to private individuals and companies in Switzerland.

How has property gains tax developed in Switzerland?

It was created in the 1960s because of the boom in vacation apartments. Since then, it has been an important part of the tax system in Switzerland.

How is property gains tax calculated?

The purchase costs, investments and expenses are deducted from the selling price. The profit that remains must be taxed.

What deductions and allowances are there for property gains tax?

The deductions and allowances vary from canton to canton. You can reduce the tax burden. These include costs for renovations and certain lump sums.

How are property gains taxed for private individuals?

Private individuals pay tax on the profit from the sale of real estate. How much tax depends on the canton in question.

How are property gains taxed for companies?

Different rules apply to companies, such as depreciation. These regulations also vary from canton to canton.

What are the cantonal differences in property gains tax?

The tax can vary greatly depending on the canton. Zurich and Vaud, for example, have different allowances and deductions.

How does the property gains tax in the canton of Zurich differ from that in the canton of Vaud?

Zurich has special allowances and deductions. In Vaud, the regulations are perhaps different. It is important to know the cantonal rules.

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