Fairness of Tax at Source

How so? Tax at source is calculated monthly, not yearly. Shouldn’t make a difference when you start. The only moment when it is unjust is when bonus or 13th salary is paid out. You are then taxed from based on a much higher tax bracket. When I was still taxed at source, I asked HR to split my 13th salary over the whole year for tax optimisation and they were happy to oblige.

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Exactly. So in 2018 I worked only 4 months and I paid around 1K CHF every month so in total 4K CHF.

My Swiss friend is not taxed at source and also worked 4 months at the end of year now he will submit a tax return and declare income of around 28K CHF. After all deductions he will pay something like 700 CHF in tax for 2018.

Sorry, something doesn’t add up. Do you and your friend earn 2300CHF/month? In most cases Quellensteuer would be zero or close to zero with that salary.

No we were students until August and started working in September so we only worked 4 months. That is my point. And we are getting offtopic here we should split this in a new topic

The whole quellensteuer thing is designed this way. It doesn’t really make a difference if you pay twelve monthly installments or one lump sum for the year, although such large shifts in salary in one calendar year can indeed generate some inconsistencies.

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Yeah I don’t mind monthly installments vs the the lump sum. It’s just unfair that you can not ask for a correction at the end of the year if there was a big salary shift. But as I said that is the law and there is nothing we can do about it expect complain on internet forums :joy:

Get a real job paying real money, from 120k+ you file tax declaration like everyone else and get refunds if you overpaid tax at source

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Well, that kind of jobs a pretty hard to come by in the French part. The only company I know that offers 100k+ straight out of university is Big Tobacco, not the best place for a career start. The median starting salary for graduates from my school in CS is something like 86K.
Anyway 2 years away from a C permit, so I think that will come before my salary gets to 120K.

I remember that, if you work a full year, the difference between spreading out the 13th salary or having it in 1 year was not much. If you spread it you increase the % of every month a bit, if you have it on 1 month you increase it a lot only on 1 month. I don’t know if it’s the same in every canton…

Another unfairness is the fact that you can’t take advantage of living in a city with a low multiplier…

Tax at source probably exists exactly to avoid foreigners paying less taxes if they only work few months in a year.


Seems so!
I thought the difference was huge (and to my disadvantage) until I put the numbers into lohncomputer.
It turns out it is (or might be) actually better off with a single month payout! :slight_smile:

Example for

  • Basel Stadt
  • 8000 base salary
  • 15000 bonus

A) 12 * 9250/month --(qs)–> 12 * 1515 = 18180 CHF total
B) 11 * 8000/month + 1 * (8000+15000) --(qs)–> 11 * 1200 + 1 * 4576 = 17776 CHF total

Unless I got something wrong…
P.S. Didn’t take AHV, 2nd pillar etc. into account, just the claimed Quellensteuer number.

Sorry for off topic but jeez … the taxes in Basel Stadt :laughing:


Get a real wealth paying hefty dividends, you get retired and can be taxed on your expenses not your income. (This forum is about early retirement :slight_smile:)
Special condition apply:
Not Swiss citizen
Not taxed in Switzerland the last 10 years.

Hi Omen,

I’m a bit late to the discussion, but feel like my information is useful to you. Same as you, I’m taxed at source and started working in September after my studies. I got back a 100% of my Taxation at source. All you need to do is fill out the ‘refectification des impôts a la source’ (correction of source taxation) until the 31st of March the year thereafter.

There’s no unfairness going on. if you’re below 28k (at least in VD/GVA), you’ll get back all of your taxes.

I am aware of this, I did get refunds during my studies for my internships. However, I have around 30K of income for 2018 so I don’t think it will be that easy.

not sure if that wasnt mentioned before, but there is the annual re-calculation of your tax. you have time to do this until end of march. collect your salary statements, monthly and yearly for 2018 and file the “Neuveranlagung quellensteuer” for 2018. within (up to 18 for ZH) months you get back all the source tax that you paid in excess, compared to earning you 2018’s salary durin 12 instead of 4 months.

(find the one of your canton)

time effort: 2h max, plus waiting time

Hi @wirpo032, @nugget,

What if I work from Jan to the end of sept on a 9 month fixed contract that’s less than 120k a year and most likely on an L permit.
So basically I will earn 75% of the contract value (contract value is written as an yearly salary) for working 9 months
My understanding is the withholding tax system will assume I work 12 months, so I will overpay tax and social contributions as my actual income is 3/4 of a yearly contract.
Will I be able to recover any of the extra taxes?

Thank you,

You can apply for an amendment (Neuveranlagung Quellensteuer) citing these circumstances, but AFAIK sub-year employment is not a sufficient reason for them to refund you anything. Especially if you’re going to leave Switzerland after those 9 months - then you are taxed precisely how you should be, system works as intended in that case because under ordinary taxation regime your income would be prorated to 12 months anyway. Only if you’re going to stay 3 more months unemployed then you might have a case to talk about unfairness. Still, you could try and see what they reply.

Only tax. Social contributions are not progressive, it’s a signle fixed rate for all.

Thanks @pandas,

Quick question, what do you mean prorated to 12 months?
Say I have a 100k a year contract, working 9 months I will earn 75k,
The state will assume my income will reach 100k and tax me accordingly, right?
Did I get this right?
And my best option is to extend the contract/ get permanent role.
Thank again,

If you’re resident in Switzerland for 9 months and work for 9 months, your income will be prorated to 12 months for tax rate determining purposes, except for irregular income items (bonus, relocation, etc)

This is completely fair: Switzerland doesn’t tax the income you’ve earned while you were not its resident. Prorating prevents people from gaming the system by working half time abroad, half time in switzerland and getting away with paying half the taxes.

If you’re resident in Switzerland for 12 months and work for 9 months, no proration.

This is assuming ordinary tax regime, e.g for 120k+ earners, married to swiss, etc. If you’re a low earner and taxed at source, you don’t have a right to request tax at source corrections just from the fact you had some unemployment months alone AFAIK. This is a bit unfair I suppose and you could try arguing your case and see what they reply. On the other hand enjoy that taxes in Switzerland are much lower than in neighboring EU countries.