On 13 June 2021, Swiss voters will decide on whether to accept a government plan to raise taxes on certain high emission activities, which include additional taxes on heating oil, flights and petrol and diesel for road use.
The aim of the revised law is to change behaviour and reduce Switzerland’s emissions.
The amount that the proposed taxes would cost an average family range from around CHF 100 to CHF 1,000 depending on who is calculating it. In addition, these calculations are averages, so the additional costs will range widely depending on the number air miles flown, the type of home heating a family has and the type of car they drive. The calculations assume an average Swiss family is comprised of two parents and two children.
The extra tax on heating oil would come out at around 24 cents per litre, so a family in a mid-sized house consuming 1,500 litres of mazout (heating oil) could end up spending an extra CHF 345. The tax is currently around 25 cents a litre with the potential to rise another 6 cents. The proposed law would allow for a potential additional rise of 24 cents per litre.
Extra tax on fuel used in vehicles could add an extra CHF 100 to an average family budget. This calculation is based on a car consuming 7 litres per 100 km travelling 13,500 km a year.
Taxes on flights would range from CHF 30 to CHF 120 depending on the length of the flight and class, so a family of four could spend an extra CHF 120 to CHF 480 per trip depending on the destination and class. A single annual family trip to a medium distance destination in economy class would cost an extra CHF 240 for a family of four.
The proposed laws include redistribution mechanisms that divide up the proceeds and distribute much of them them evenly, so these need to be deducted. The government estimates these would be CHF 320 per year for a family of four.
Adding up the figures above leads to a net extra cost of CHF 365 a year.
However, according to the Swiss government, the extra cost is estimated to be CHF 97. This is made up of an extra CHF 244 tax on heating oil, an extra CHF 120 for taxes on flights and CHF 53 on running vehicles. From this total of CHF 417, the government deducts the total rebate of CHF 320, leaving a net additional cost of CHF 97.
The biggest differences are in the amount of heating oil consumed and the annual flight. The government calculation assumes lower heating oil consumption, which is due to a combination of differences in assumed living space and consumption per square metre. The difference in car running costs comes down to differences in car fuel efficiency and the distance driven. Additional flight costs will range significantly by destination and frequency. The government calculation assumes one short trip a year.
At the other end of the spectrum, the UDC (SVP) estimates the same family would spend an extra CHF 1,000 per year, without offering a detailed calculation.
In addition to this weekend’s vote on the proposed CO2 law, there are two votes on pesticides (here and here), one attempting to overturn Switzerland’s Covid-19 laws and another attempting to block new antiterrorism laws.