Last Friday, the federal Swiss tax office published the latest statistics covering the wealth and earnings of the nation’s more than 5 million tax payers – Switzerland has wealth tax, so net worth is included in tax returns. The highest percentage of the very wealthiest (CHF 10 million plus) lived in Schwyz. Geneva also made the top five cantons in this category.
The 2013 figures published last Friday show, from 2010 to 2013, the total net worth of all Swiss tax-paying individuals, climbed 17% from CHF 1.43 trillion to CHF 1.67 trillion, CHF 324,000 on average. Much of the rise can probably be explained by rising share prices. The SMI, Switzerland’s main share index, rose 25% from 6,567 to 8,215 over the period. A sustained decline in share prices would likely make a large dent in these figures, especially the net worth of those at the top.
Aggregate wealth grew by 6% from CHF 1.56 trillion between 2012 and 2013.
In 2013, 0.26% of Swiss taxpayers declared net wealth over CHF 10 million, 1.0% had more than CHF 3 million, 5.4% had more than CHF 1 million, and 12.0% had more than CHF 500,000. At the other end of the scale, 75.5% had CHF 200,000 or less, and 25.0% declared no assets at all.
The total number worth over CHF 10 million climbed by 26%, from 10,459 in 2010, to 13,246 by 2013. This ultra rich group owned 29% of the total in 2013, compared to 26% in 2010. Average wealth in this wealth-band declined slightly from 137 million to 126 million, a drop of 8%, as the number grew faster than their shared wealth.
The five cantons with the greatest percentage declaring over CHF 10 million were: Schwyz (1.2%), Zug (1.0%), Nidwalden (0.9%), Appenzell Ausserrhoden (0.49%) and Geneva (0.48%). Vaud (0.22%) was below the Swiss average of 0.26%, while Zurich (0.39%) and Basel-City (0.32%) were both above it. The lowest five in this category were Valais (0.06%), Fribourg (0.08%), Jura (0.09%), Solothurn (0.10%) and Schaffhausen (0.11%).
Three of the cantons with the highest percentages in the CHF 10 million-plus club, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Schwyz and Nidwalden, also had the lowest percentages declaring zero wealth, 11.7%, 10.3% and 9.4% respectively. The Swiss average on this measure was 25%.
The cantons with the highest percentages of taxpayers with no net wealth were Solothurn (40.7%), Jura (40.3%), Geneva (38.7%), Fribourg (34.4%), and Neuchâtel (32.5%). These cantons, with the exception of Geneva, also had the lowest levels of average declared wealth. Jura, Solothurn, Fribourg, Valais and Neuchâtel were the bottom five on this measure with net worth averages between 144,000 and 166,000. At the other end were Schwyz and Nidwalden, both with averages above CHF 1 million.
Geneva was an exception. It simultaneously made the top five on percentages in the wealthiest 10 million-plus category (0.48%), and the top five with the highest percentage declaring zero wealth (38.7%).
Comparing Schwyz to Geneva, in terms of the average net worth of the 94% at the bottom, shows Schwyz well ahead of Geneva, with an average net worth of close to CHF 89,000, compared to only CHF 36,000 for the same group in the city of Calvin.
The percentage of wealth held by those with a net worth over CHF 1 million was similar in both places at around 88%, but because residents of Schwyz were on average so much wealthier (CHF 1,017,000 vs CHF 389,000), those worth CHF 1 million or less, were worth an average of CHF 174,000 in Schwyz, compared to CHF 88,000 in Geneva. And, unsurprisingly, Schwyz had fewer residents with net worth below CHF 100,000, 51% of its population, compared to 73% of Geneva’s, and far fewer declaring nothing: 10.3% in Schwyz and 38.7% in Geneva.