Skip to content
Startseite » Advisor » Lexicon » Withholding tax in Switzerland explained simply – Tax lexicon

Withholding tax in Switzerland explained simply – Tax lexicon

Did you know that almost 90% of tax revenue in Switzerland comes from direct taxes? These include taxes on income, assets, profit and capital. This information shows how important these taxes are for the cantons and municipalities. Nevertheless, the federal government’s main revenue comes from VAT, a consumption tax.

Withholding tax plays an important role in the Swiss tax system. It is a tax for which you do not receive any direct benefit from the state. It helps to meet the financial needs of the public sector and guide people’s behavior. The special feature of the Swiss system is that taxes are levied at different levels. Income, assets, profit and capital make a significant contribution.

Important findings

  • Around 90% of Swiss tax revenue comes from direct taxes.
  • Federal tax revenue mainly comes from consumption taxes, in particular value added tax.
  • The Swiss tax system comprises taxes at federal, cantonal and municipal level.
  • Income, assets, profit and capital are key tax components.
  • Withholding tax helps to cover financial requirements and steer behavior.
  • Taxes are levied without any direct consideration from the state.
  • Withholding tax is an important part of the Swiss tax system.

What is withholding tax?

Withholding tax is a withholding tax on income such as dividends and interest. It is levied directly by financial institutions. It is intended to prevent people from evading taxes by deducting them directly.

Swiss tax law stipulates various rates for this tax:

Category Tax rate
Capital gains and lottery winnings 35%
Life annuities and pensions 15%
Other insurance benefits 8%

In Switzerland, all debtors must pay taxable benefits. Natural persons in Switzerland who declare everything correctly will get the money back from the cantons. Companies in Switzerland that book their income correctly receive a refund from the tax authorities.

If you have paid too much withholding tax, you can reclaim it. This must be done within three years. For foreign recipients, the tax is usually final, unless there is an agreement with their country.

Withholding tax in Switzerland started at 15% in 1944. Since 1976, it has mostly been 35%. This tax helps to ensure that capital gains are taxed correctly.

How does withholding tax work in Switzerland?

The functioning of withholding tax in Switzerland is one of the most important elements of the tax system. It helps to report and tax income correctly. It combats tax avoidance and ensures a fair distribution of income.

Principles of withholding tax

When income from capital is paid out, the state automatically deducts tax. This amounts to 35% for interest and profits and 15% for pensions and annuities. 8% is also due for certain insurance benefits. Regardless of the recipient’s financial situation, the tax is transferred directly.

Purpose of the withholding tax

Withholding tax prevents tax fraud and promotes honesty in tax returns. People living in Switzerland can reclaim them if they declare their income correctly. Refunds are made by the cantons for private individuals or by the Federal Tax Administration for companies.

Application in international contexts

Thanks to tax treaties, foreigners can also receive refunds. These agreements help to distribute the tax burden fairly and avoid double taxation.

Yield type Tax rate
Investment income 35%
Lottery winnings 35%
Life annuities and pensions 15%
Insurance benefits 8%

In summary, the way withholding tax works in Switzerland ensures transparency and fairness. International agreements guarantee a fair tax burden, even across borders.

Withholding tax return: What do I need to bear in mind?

When completing the withholding tax return, there are a few things to bear in mind. It’s about doing everything right to get money back. It is important to use the appropriate withholding tax form. Every detail must be correct and complete.

Yield type Tax rate
Capital gains and lottery winnings 35%
Life annuities and pensions 15%
Other insurance benefits 8%

In Switzerland, it is important to enclose all the necessary documents. These include:

  • Withholding tax forms filled out correctly
  • Declare all income and earnings
  • Submit within three years of the due date

To ensure that everything runs smoothly, you should follow the instructions exactly. If you submit all the documents correctly, you will be reimbursed more quickly. This also avoids problems.

Refund of withholding tax

In Switzerland, taxpayers can get back overpaid taxes under certain conditions. This is a multi-step process. It ensures that taxpayers get their money back.

Requirements for reimbursement

Taxpayers must meet certain conditions in order to apply for a refund. They must show that they have paid the tax. This includes:

  1. Submission of the complete copy of the purchase agreement for dividend income if the shareholding is over 10%. This follows Art. 48 VStG.
  2. Applications can only be submitted after the end of the calendar year in which the payment was due. See Art. 29 para. 2 VStG.
  3. The entitlement is lost if the application is not submitted within three years of the end of this calendar year. Pursuant to Art. 32 para. 1 VStG stipulates this.
  4. In the case of inheritances, reimbursement must be applied for in the name of the deceased up to and including the date of death. This is stated in Art. 58 VStV.

Reclaim process

Withholding tax is reclaimed online via the Tax Administration’s ePortal. Over 300,000 applications are processed here every year. This can extend the processing time. Users have access to many functions:

  • Electronic partial refund via form 21
  • Electronic full refund with form 25 / 85

According to Art. 64 para. 2 VStV, only one application per year is usually accepted. To avoid delays, taxpayers should submit all evidence and the completed form. The tax authority checks the documents and decides on the refund.

More information on the refund of withholding tax

Withholding tax agreements and international aspects

Swiss withholding tax agreements aim to avoid double taxation. They help to structure taxes on income and profits fairly. This makes international business more attractive for investors.

Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation

DTAs are important to stop double taxation. They make it easier for international taxpayers to clearly regulate their taxes. The states agree on how they share the taxes.

International comparison of withholding tax

Withholding tax rates vary worldwide. This influences where people invest. The Swiss agreements attempt to reduce these differences. This makes international investing easier.

Country Withholding tax rate
Switzerland 35%
Germany 26,375%
USA 30%
France 25%

The agreements improve investments across borders. They ensure fair conditions for all. Click here for more information.


Withholding tax is important for the Swiss tax system. It ensures transparency in the taxation of investment income. It is also an important source of income for public budgets. The tax rates vary, with 35% on capital gains and lottery winnings and 8% on insurance benefits.

Domestic debtors must pay the withholding tax. Swiss citizens can apply for a refund under certain conditions. This must be done within three years. People in countries with double taxation agreements with Switzerland also have a chance of a refund.

Reimbursement is usually handled by the cantons for natural persons. The Federal Tax Administration is responsible for companies. A refund is not possible if it circumvents tax laws.

Switzerland adapts well through international agreements. This enables fair taxation of international transactions. Withholding tax is a core element of Swiss tax policy. It provides important information for taxpayers and companies.


What is withholding tax in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, withholding tax is a tax on income such as dividends and interest. It is charged directly at the time of payment. This helps to avoid tax evasion.

How does withholding tax work in Switzerland?

It is deducted directly when capital income is paid out. Their aim is to ensure that this income is taxed correctly.

What are the basic principles of withholding tax?

Withholding tax is deducted when capital gains are paid. This ensures the correct tax declaration and combats tax evasion.

What is the purpose of withholding tax?

Its purpose is to ensure the correct taxation of capital income. It also helps to combat tax evasion.

Which forms should be used for the withholding tax return?

You have to use specific forms. These must be filled in correctly and completely.

What do I need to bear in mind when filing a withholding tax return?

You must submit all important data and enclose the necessary supporting documents. This ensures a correct assessment and a possible refund.

What conditions must be met for the refund of withholding tax?

Taxpayers must show that they have paid the tax and are entitled to a refund.

How does the process of reclaiming withholding tax work?

You must submit an application form with all the evidence. The tax office then checks the documents and decides on the refund.

What are withholding tax agreements?

These are agreements between countries. They prevent double taxation and ensure fair tax sharing.

How does withholding tax affect international business?

Withholding tax can influence foreign investments. Agreements regulate tax rates and improve conditions for companies and investors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *