Declaring my taxes? me?
If you landed on this page, chances are that you’re an expat living and working in Switzerland. You may or may not be a native German speaker. You likely hadn’t thought of Swiss taxation whatsoever up until recently. Taxes were simply something automatically deducted from your payslip. Nothing to care about.
That all changed with a letter from the Steueramt. You now have to declare taxes in Switzerland. Why? Maybe you got your new C permit. Or maybe you’re lucky enough for your income to now exceed CHF 120k/year. In any case you now belong to the group of mortals who have to declare their taxes.
A person doesn’t know how much (s)he has to be thankful for until (s)he has to pay taxes on itAnonymous
You’re likely worrying about how to go about this whole tax declaration thing. And you might have heard from friends or colleagues that paying for a tax consultants pays off. You’re here, so chances are you’re skeptical. And with good reason.
Why you should get your hands dirty
Let me get it out of the way: I have nothing against tax consultants. I am sure they add value to many people’s lives by handling their complex cases, unique tax circumstances or simply relieving them from the seemingly tedious task of filing their taxes. That said, I also believe that most people don’t have that many unique tax circumstances. And that declaring your taxes once a year is not nearly as arduous a task as it seems. All in all, I believe that most people can benefit from doing their taxes themselves. I see three reasons for it.
The most obvious motivation to do your taxes yourself is to keep your bucks. At the rates charged by tax consultants (CHF ~150/h last time I checked), you’re looking at an average of CHF ~600 additional savings per year.
Building financial literacy
Chances are this is not what you had in mind when you found this website. However people who understand and can handle their own taxes are often those that are financially better off. Or at least that’s what I see around me. Tax savviness tends to correlate with financial literacy. And financial literacy tends to correlate with wealth. Learning to do your taxes will not immediately make you wealthy, but will help you build financial introspective and financial literacy. Together, it will hopefully result in you having more control over your personal finance. This can only have positive financial outcomes in the long run
If it’s the first time you’re doing your taxes, this point most likely won’t apply to you. In fact, the time commitment will likely exceed 6h if you’re a first timer. However, after a couple of successful runs, you’ll know your financial position better that anyone else ever could. And you’ll be fast. At least relative to adding an intermediary to the equation – to whom you would have to send all the financial input anyways
Something you may find useful
You’ll find a tax declaration guide on this website. The guide intends to be an English reference to help residents of canton Zurich overcome the language/knowledge barrier and help them fulfill their tax declarations by themselves. That is of course not to say that German or Austrian (or even Swiss) folks aren’t welcome here. But I still believe that non-native German speakers face in general bigger challenges when dealing with their tax declarations.
Here comes the disclaimer…
Before you continue, you should be aware that:
- I am not a financial advisor, accountant, or tax consultant. I do not have any formal qualifications/license required to provide professional financial advice
- This website captures the best of my knowledge, which may be biased, incomplete, or plainly wrong
- I waive all liability for any loss (financial or not) you might face by reading this website. You (and not me) are ultimately responsible for any action you take around your personal finances
On top of that, I am also not related in any way to the tax authorities of Zurich/Switzerland (other than paying them taxes).
If you’re interested in starting your tax declaration process right away, then you start here: Tax declaration guide: Intro
However, if it’s the first time you’re filing taxes, it might be convenient to start here:
- Taxes in Switzerland 101: provides background on how Swiss taxation works
- Common tax misconceptions: helps to clarify common beginners questions
Last updated on April 21, 2020