Married couples in Switzerland are taxed together on their combined income, something that is not applied to unmarried couples who are taxed individually. This often acts as a tax disincentive for one member of a married couple to work, disproportionately affecting women. Politicians and organisations focused on improving women’s career chances would like to see this combined taxing of income go, something the Federal Council has been working on.
However, this week a majority of political parties came out against the Federal Council’s proposal, reported RTS. The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), Centre Party, Green Party and Socialist Party all said they were against the Federal Council’s proposal. Only the PLR (FDP) and Liberal Greens supported a variant of it.
Arguments against the proposal fell into two categories. The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) and Centre Party don’t like the negative impact it could have on families with a single earner – instead of spreading income across two earners it would get taxed at a higher rate in the hands of a single earner. The Socialist and Green Parties were concerned about the forecasted CHF 1 billion cost of the plan and called for different proposal taxing higher earners more heavily.
The PLR (FDP) and Liberal Greens remained in favour of the move on the grounds that it is family and gender neutral and motivates couples to both work. At the same time the PLR (FDP) rejected Federal Council plans because they penalise couples with one high income. According to the party this needs to be fixed. The Liberal Greens quoted a study estimating that the change would incentivise 60,000 people to join the workforce.
If the Federal Council’s plans fail to win over a majority of political parties the only path left for those in favour of change may be to put the issue to a vote. An initiative to launch a popular vote on the subject, organised by women belonging to the PLR (FDP), received sufficient signatures at the end of 2022.