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Tax return

The tax administration asks you to file a tax return every year. The information you provide on your tax return is used to determine what income and property tax you must pay. Not everyone has to pay income tax. It is also possible that you may be reimbursed if you have enough expenses to deduct.

You can only get a refund if you file a tax return. You can create them yourself. If you would like to make this easier for yourself, there are various tax programs available. Some of these programs are chargeable. You must pay attention to whether the respective program is recognized in your canton. To get as much as possible back from the federal government and avoid mistakes, you can also commission a tax advisor with your tax return. This costs some money, but is usually worth it anyway due to a higher tax refund.

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Where is the tax return filed?

Every year, the cantonal tax administration asks you to submit your tax return. You also file your tax return with the tax administration that asked you to file. You can submit the tax documents by mail, but also as an online tax return.

Tax offices in Switzerland

The overarching body for taxes in Switzerland is the Federal Tax Administration (FTA). It is headquartered in Bern and supervised by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF). Various taxes and duties are levied by the FTA, including.

- direct federal tax
- Value added tax
- Withholding tax
- Casino levy
- Stamp duty
- Conscription Replacement Levy.

The FTA has various subdivisions that handle the application and enforcement of tax law. There you will also receive information on tax issues.

Switzerland has cantonal tax administrations that request the submission of a tax return. A different tax administration is responsible for each canton. Since Switzerland consists of 26 individual cantons, there are 26 cantonal tax administrations.

What is a tax return?

A tax return is a declaration by a taxpayer of his or her income and assets.

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In Switzerland, this is done in writing or electronically and is submitted to the competent tax authority. The tax authority will check the amount of tax you have to pay based on the information you provide. You will receive a tax notice in which the tax to be paid is determined. If you have many expenses that are tax deductible, you can receive a refund. The tax return is filed anew with the tax authorities every year, as income and asset circumstances can change with each year. Deadlines must be observed when submitting. There is a tax liability.

How often must the tax return be filed and what deadlines apply?

You must submit your tax return once a year. If you have been requested to submit a tax return by your cantonal tax administration, you have 30 days to complete and submit the forms. The deadline for submission is indicated on the forms. However, it depends on the canton how long you have to submit. In most cantons, you must submit the declaration by the end of March.

Is it possible to extend the deadline?

If you cannot submit the tax return within the specified deadline, an extension is possible. For the extension (so-called extension of the deadline) of the current tax return, you submit an application to the competent tax administration. The period by which the submission deadline can be extended depends on the respective canton. While in some cantons the extension is only possible until the end of August or the end of September, in other cantons the submission deadline can be extended until the end of December. In some cantons, an individual extension is also possible.

Is the tax return mandatory in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, all taxable persons are required to file a tax return to declare their income.

Everyone who has reached the age of 18 must file a tax return.

The first tax return must be filed by an individual for the year in which he or she came of age. The declaration must always be made for the previous year. Thus, for the year 2021, the tax return must be filed in 2022.

What do foreigners have to consider when filing their tax return?

Foreigners who work in Switzerland and have a permanent residence permit(Permit C) must declare income and assets in the normal tax return. Withholding tax applies to other foreign employees.

What do married couples have to consider when filing their tax returns?

Married couples must fill out their tax return jointly. The two incomes must be added together, as they are taxed jointly. A joint tax return must also be filed by persons with a registered partnership. In order to avoid a tax disadvantage for married couples and persons with a registered partnership compared to cohabiting couples, the federal government and the cantons have introduced relief measures such as the married tax rate or splitting.

How can taxpayers in Switzerland prepare a tax return themselves?

To prepare the tax return yourself, you will receive forms from your competent cantonal tax administration. Complete these forms with the required information and submit them to the Tax Administration along with the required attachments. Collect all the necessary documents over time, make your work easier. You can obtain information on filling out the forms from your tax administration or from the FTA. If you want to make your work easier, tax software can help you. You can use it to complete your tax return online and submit it electronically to the tax authorities.

How helpful is tax software for tax returns?

The Internet provides various programs for tax returns, some of which are subject to a fee. Some programs are also free of charge. Make sure that this program is recognized by the tax administration of your canton (e.g. Canton of Zurich, Canton of Bern, etc.) and that there is an official interface to your tax administration. The program should be easy to use even without tax knowledge and provide support for deductions. It is advantageous to have a preliminary estimate of the tax bill. So you already know approximately what you have to pay in taxes. Very important is a high level of data security, so that your data does not fall into the wrong hands.

Who can help with the tax return?

You do not have to file the tax return alone. You can hire a tax expert to do your tax return. Tax advisors complete tax returns within a short time and know completely legal tax tricks that can help you save taxes. Make sure that the tax consultant is certified, accredited and qualified. For his services, the tax advisor should offer a fixed fee (see also Costs of a tax advisor).A reputable tax advisor will not offer you life insurance or private pension products.

Tax consultant is worthwhile

Using a tax advisor costs money, but it makes sense to pay for it. You save on taxes, which is especially important if you have a high income and assets. You can find out about tax consultants through one of the industry associations such as ExpertSuisse or Treuhand Schweiz.

What can be deducted for tax purposes?

If you want to save taxes, you should not forget the deductions in your tax return. You can deduct this:

  • Pension costs for pension class pillars 2 and 3a
  • Education and training costs
  • Professional expenses and additional costs
  • Travel expenses for the way to work
  • Premiums for health insurance, life insurance and accident insurance
  • Sickness costs, medical expenses, accident costs
  • Costs for meals away from home
  • Childcare costs
  • Spousal and child support
  • Social deduction for minor children
  • Two-earner deduction if both spouses are gainfully employed
  • Debt and interest on loans
  • Withholding taxes for interest
  • Savings interest and bank interest
  • Contributions to political parties
  • Donations to charitable organizations
  • disability-related additional costs
  • Costs for private office or home office

What you can actually deduct from your taxes differs depending on the canton. Check out the Cantonal Tax Administration page for information on deductions.

What is needed for the tax return?

For the tax return, you need various documents in addition to the forms or a program.
You show income and assets with

  • Wage statements, if you are an employee
  • Receipts for pensions if you are already a pensioner
  • Account statements from bank or post office
  • Accounting, if you are self-employed
  • Documents for securities


You will need the appropriate receipts for the deductions:

  • Donation receipts
  • Evidence for professional expenses
  • Evidence of further training and retraining costs
  • Receipts for voluntary pension contributions, pillar 3a
  • Evidence of medical expenses

If you are an apartment owner, you must also submit documents relating to debt interest, property tax, operating and administrative costs, and invoices for maintenance and renovation work to the tax administration together with your tax return.

What is included in the tax return?

In the tax return, you declare income and assets. Enter income from employment, self-employment and any sideline activities. For the most part, you must declare your net wage in the tax return, which you can take from the wage statement. In addition to your salary, you must declare other income such as income from securities, gambling winnings or alimony in your tax return. If you are already retired, you must declare pensions from AHV and occupational pension plans. To reduce your tax burden, enter the appropriate deductions.

Specify assets

In the tax return you also declare your assets, because the cantons and municipalities levy wealth tax in addition to income tax. Assets that you must declare on your tax return include.

  • Securities
  • Real Estate
  • Cash
  • Account balance
  • Surrender value of life insurance and annuities.

Household goods are not included in assets and do not have to be reported on the tax return. You must declare art collections and other valuables. Deductions are also possible in the case of assets, with which you can save taxes.

How much tax do I have to pay?

Exact details of how much tax you will have to pay are not possible at this point. It depends on your income, assets and what you can deduct. The amount of your taxes is also affected by whether you are single or married.

The tax system is complex and characterized by federalism. Each canton has its own tax laws, resulting in a different tax burden depending on the canton.
In addition to the cantons, the Confederation levies taxes if it is empowered to do so by the Federal Constitution. The state sets the federal tax rates, which are the same throughout Switzerland.