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Tax return in Bern

Different regulations apply to tax rates and tax returns in the individual Swiss cantons. Each canton can organize its taxation procedure independently. In terms of population, the Canton of Bern is the second largest Swiss canton after Zurich. At the end of July 2021, the canton had 1,045,320 inhabitants. The capital of the canton is the city of the same name, Bern, which is also the capital and political center of Switzerland. The Canton of Bern is made up of ten administrative districts and has a total of 347 municipalities. Natural persons who have reached the age of 18 are requested by the cantonal tax administration to submit a tax return.

The canton of Bern is one of the cantons with the highest income tax rates, compared to the average of all cantons.

Tax rate in the canton of Bern

The income tax rate is exceptionally high in the canton of Bern.

The average for all Swiss cantons is 33.52 percent. With an income tax rate of 41.2 percent, the canton of Berne ranks third in terms of the level of income tax.

Only in the cantons of Vaud, with 41.5 percent, and Basel-Landschaft, with 42.2 percent, are income tax rates even higher.

It is not only the canton of Bern that burdens its inhabitants with the tax. In addition, taxpayers are charged taxes by the federal government as well as the municipality and, if they belong to a church, also by the church. In the individual municipalities of the Canton of Berne, the tax burden varies. Different municipal tax rates apply in the individual municipalities and are reported to the cantonal tax administration.

In addition to income tax, taxpayers in the Canton of Bern must also pay wealth tax, which is levied on all assets. Unlike income tax, it is calculated in parts per thousand rather than as a percentage. In the case of a gift or inheritance, gift or inheritance tax is also due.

Cantonal Tax Administration of the Canton of Bern

Each year, the cantonal tax administration of Bern requests taxpayers to submit a tax return in writing. It has the following web address: www.be.ch/steuern.

The postal address of the Bern Tax Administration is:

Tax Administration of the Canton of Bern
Brünnenstrasse 66
CH-3018 Bern

The tax administration can also be contacted via the P.O. Box address:

Tax Administration of the Canton of Bern
P.O. Box
3001 Bern

As in all Swiss cantons, the submission of tax returns is also possible electronically in the canton of Bern. A contact form as well as a telephone and fax number are also available for contacting the company. Contact details are listed on the Cantonal Tax Administration website.

Questions about filing a tax return and taxes can also be answered by the relevant municipal tax office. Alternatively, you can have tax consultants help you complete your tax return.

Tax software accepted in the canton of Bern

Tax software is available in the canton of Bern for filing tax returns online. Different tax software is accepted in different cantons. The canton of Bern accepts the TaxMe tax software, which is provided free of charge on the website of the cantonal tax administration. It is available online for legal entities and individuals. A download is not required.

To prepare the tax return, taxpayers must log in with their access data. The website of the cantonal tax administration explains how to use the TaxMe tax software. In addition, the Canton of Bern accepts Dr. Tax as third-party tax software. The Dr. Tax Privat software is available for private individuals for a fee.

Taxpayers in the Canton of Berne can consult a tax advisor who will prepare the tax return. Tax return mistakes are avoided with a tax advisor.

Deadlines for filing the tax return

In the current year, the tax return in the canton of Bern must always be submitted for the previous year.

The tax return must be received by the cantonal tax administration by March 15 of the current year.

Thus, the tax return for 2022 must be filed no later than March 15, 2023. This deadline must also be met if a tax advisor prepares the tax return.
If the ordinary deadline for submitting the tax return cannot be met, an extension of the deadline is possible until November 15 of the current year at the latest. A deadline extension can be requested online via the cantonal tax return website. The application must contain information about the tax number, name, date of birth, residential address and e-mail address of the taxpayer. After requesting the extension of the deadline, a confirmation must be printed. A written confirmation by mail will not be sent.

When applying for the deadline extension online, the desired deadline must be selected. The canton of Bern charges fees depending on the extension of the deadline:

  • until July 15 free of charge
  • until September 15 20 CHF
  • until November 15 40 CHF

The extension of time may also be requested in writing by letter or e-mail, providing the required information. In this case, higher fees apply:

  • until July 15 20 CHF
  • until September 15 40 CHF
  • until November 15 60 CHF

Costs in case of non-compliance with the deadline or non-filing of the tax return

If the tax return is not submitted on time in the canton of Bern and no extension of the deadline is requested, the cantonal tax administration charges a reminder fee of CHF 60. In addition, a fine of CHF 400 will be due.

Taxpayers who, despite reminders, fail to submit a tax return or do not attach the required annexes to their tax return must expect to pay a fine levied by the cantonal tax administration at its discretion. The fine can range from CHF 1,000 to CHF 10,000. It is even higher if a taxpayer repeatedly fails to submit a tax return.

According to the cantonal tax administration, failure to file a tax return could constitute a case of tax evasion. A fine is also levied for attempted evasion. It accounts for two-thirds of the fine that applies to tax evasion.

Self-disclosure possible

To avoid a fine for tax evasion, taxpayers can file a non-punishable voluntary declaration with the cantonal tax administration. Formal requirements do not apply to the non-punishable voluntary disclosure. However, it must be explicitly stated that the previous declaration was incomplete. The non-punishable voluntary declaration must be submitted with the required supporting documents. The cantonal tax administration levies an additional tax.
A supplementary tax is also levied by the cantonal tax administration if the legally binding assessment was incomplete. The tax shall be paid in arrears with the interest on arrears.

Appeal against the tax assessment in the canton of Bern

Taxpayers in the Canton of Berne who have received an assessment ruling and do not agree with it may lodge an objection free of charge within 30 days. The objection must always be made by mail. It is not possible to submit the objection by fax or by e-mail. Together with the objection, the documents relating to the relevant facts must be submitted.

Appeals should also be filed if the tax was assessed too low. Otherwise, the suspicion of tax evasion could arise.

Possibility of payment facilitation in the canton of Bern

Advance tax payments are possible once or several times a year in the canton of Bern. The prerequisite for this is that there are no outstanding taxes. Advance payments can be made via online banking.

In the event of payment difficulties, payment relief may be requested in the form of payment by installments. The application must be received by the relevant collection agency within 30 days of receipt of the tax determination. Taxpayers have the option to divide the amount themselves. At the request of the collection agency, taxpayers must submit a household budget if they are financially strapped.

What is tax-free in the canton of Bern?

In the canton of Bern, there are various tax-exempt incomes. The pay for militia firefighters is tax-free up to CHF 5,000 per year if it was paid in connection with the performance of the fire department’s core duties.

Winnings from money games are also tax-exempt if they were not earned in connection with self-employment. Individual winnings of up to CHF 1 million are tax-free when participating in permitted large-scale games.

What is tax deductible in the canton of Bern?

Various expenses are tax deductible in the canton of Bern:

  • Stake costs for winnings from participation in permitted cash games at CHF 5,000 per game, maximum CHF 25,000 per tax year
  • Costs associated with Covid 19 for home office as professional expenses
  • Costs for travel between home and work as professional expenses up to CHF 6,700 per tax year when using public transport
  • in the case of travel by private vehicle, the costs are tax-deductible only to the extent that they would be if public transport were used
  • Costs for secondary income of 20 percent of net income, minimum CHF 800, maximum CHF 2,400 per year
  • Real estate costs in the case of private property, which include investment costs, maintenance costs, insurance premiums, real estate taxes of the municipality and costs of management by third parties
  • Contributions to health insurance, accident and disability insurance, life insurance, and private retirement and survivors’ plans
  • Costs for paid care for children up to the age of 14 up to CHF 12,000 per child
  • Membership fees and contributions to political parties up to CHF 5,200 per year
  • Costs for education, training and retraining up to CHF 12,000 per year
  • Second-earner deduction in the case of a legally and factually inseparable marriage 2 percent of the earned income of both spouses, up to a maximum of CHF 9,300 per year
  • Sickness and accident costs

Self-employed persons can additionally deduct the costs for research and development as well as reserves for future research and development for tax purposes.