The cantons of Neuchâtel (14.7%) and Geneva (14.6%) have the highest percentages of taxpayers owing money, according to the newspaper SonntagsBlick.
Fribourg (12.6%), Bern (9.5%) and Luzern (6.5%) complete the top-five. Vaud (5.9%), Basel-City (5.5%) and Zurich (2.4%) are further down. Aargau (2.0%) and Uri (1.0%) sit at the bottom with fewest with oustanding tax payments.
These figures are only part of the picture. Those who borrow to pay their taxes are excluded from these numbers. SonntagsBlick asked Comparis, an online broker and lender, for information on how many of their clients were taking out loans to pay taxes. Based on a sample, the lender found that around 3% of its loans were tax related, with an average loan value of CHF 17,700.
What’s going wrong?
Each Swiss canton has its own specific rules and tax rates, however typically, advance monthly tax payment are made based on a taxpayer’s income and asset history. The following year, after taxes have been calculated based on actual income and assets, a further payment or refund is made.
When someone loses their job during the year they must continue making the monthly advance tax payments, despite a drop in income. This can lead to mounting tax debt.
An obvious solution to this problem would be to have employers deduct tax from salaries. Then when salaries stop so would the tax payments. Many countries including Germany and the UK do this.
The canton of Basel-City recently tried to shift to such a system, however it was rejected by a majority of the canton’s legislature.
SonntagsBlick article (in German)