Withholding tax in Switzerland: does it concern you?

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Do you currently earn a living in Switzerland? Or are you planning on working there soon and you would like to know whether your taxes will be taken at source? 

It does not go without saying, to say the least! The situation is complicated as it depends on your country of residence, the canton in which you are employed and even the amount of times you go back home. 

In this article, I will unravel the true from the false and, within the next few minutes, you will know whether you will be imposed at source or not. 

Who is always subject to taxation at source?

There are two categories of people for which income is always imposed at source. 

Those are Swiss residents who do not have Swiss citizenship, nor a category C residence permit. 

Table showing who is taxed at source

If your situation corresponds to the description, you can stop reading this page and directly move on to the functionning of the taxation at source.

If you are a frontalier, the following paragraphes were meant for you. 

What happens if I live in France or another European country? 

If you live in France or in a European Union country and you go back home once a week, then you pay your taxes in Switzerland and they are withheld at source. 

However, if you live in France and you commute daily, you owe your taxes to Switzerland. Unless you work in Geneva, Zurich or Aargau. In these three cases, you must pay your taxes in Switzerland and you are taxed at source. 

Can you feel a headache coming on? Keep calm and check out the table below.

Summary table showing who should be subject to withholding tax depending on their status and where they live

Basel, Bern, Jura, Valais and Vaud: how to declare my taxes and avoid double taxation?

Careful, if you do not normalise your situation as required, you risk doing a little fiscal gymnastics.

To make sure you do not forget to declare your taxes, Switzerland and France signed a double taxation agreement. Contrary to what its name might suggest, there is no double taxation. But the process is rather annoying.

It is a three-step dance.. 

  • Switzerland taxes you at source. 
  • You must declare your income in France, who will charge you a tax. 
  • Once you receive proof of payment, you can apply for a refund of the tax at source. 

To avoid these administrative contorsions, you must meet these two requirements. 

  1. You (generally) return to your primary tax domicile daily, or at least 4 days a week if your work full-time. 
  2. You submitted the proof of tax residence to your employer before your 1st day of work or before 1st January of the following year 


Any questions left? 

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