After the Swiss mountain village of Albinen hatched a plan to pay parents (CHF 25,000 each) and children (CHF 10,000 each) to move there, it has been inundated with applicants.
Rather than celebrating, the picturesque town’s administration is unhappy. It published a statement on its website accusing the media of false reports that have created unnecessary fuss and confusion. It says some left out essential detail, such as the need to be under 45 (if a parent) and under 10 (if a child), hold a permanent residency permit or a Swiss passport, and be prepared to invest CHF 200,000 and stay for at least 10 years. Municipalities cannot by themselves grant residency permits.
Speaking the local German dialect, largely incomprehensible even to someone from Zurich, is not mentioned. However fitting in without it might be difficult.
A detailed document on the plan, presented to the municipality for approval, reveals another likely requirement. In addition to boosting the town’s population of 2411, newcomers are expected to bring in additional tax revenue.
In Switzerland, tax and welfare payments are managed at three levels: municipal, cantonal, and federal. Tax rates and welfare payments can change with a move to a neighbouring village.
Numbers in the document show a central scenario where 5 families generate CHF 66,000 of extra tax revenue annually, enough to repay the town’s upfront investment in them in 5 years. Using the canton’s tax calculator, a family of two parents and two kids would need to earn around CHF 150,000 annually (USD 152,000) to satisfy this scenario2. That could be difficult living in a small village halfway up a mountain – Albinen is roughly 1.5 hours from Lausanne and more than 2 hours from Geneva.
There is also a chance some villagers look upon new arrivals with trepidation, wondering whether they will increase taxpayer burden or bring tax relief by living up to their expected return on investment.
In such a small town, anyone who does disappoint will find it hard to keep a low profile.
1 At 31 December 2016 – BFS – (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
2 Wealth tax element assumes net assets of CHF 270.000 – CHF 200,000 invested plus CHF 70,000 payment from the municipality.