How to calculate deductions for lunch, travel and insurance?

I just started my first full time job after graduating and I’m thinking about filling out my taxes for this year, but I did not keep track of the amount of days I went in to the office or home office. How do I calculate the deductions for travel and lunch in this case? I don’t want to get into trouble by giving a number too large for e.g.

1, I easily reach the 3200 a year for both travel and food (I have the GA), but IIRC there is a daily limit of 15CHF, so I’m not sure if I would need to prove the amount of days I went to the office and multiply that by 15? I’m not even sure if there are enough work days a year to reach that limit.

2, I found this on this website (11 Tax Deductions in Switzerland - moneyland.ch): " The deduction for [health insurance], supplementary accident insurance and [life insurance] premiums is combined with the deduction for interest earned on savings. This deduction is currently limited to 1800 Swiss francs per adult or 3600 francs per married couple or registered partnership. If you do not contribute to either an [occupational pension fund] (pillar 2) or the [pillar 3a], then higher tax deductions of 2700 francs (singles) and 5400 francs (couples) apply. You get an additional 700-franc deduction for each child or other eligible dependent in your care."

Does this mean that I can also deduct 1800 a year? (there is no way any health insurance is less than that/year) Also by no contribution to 2. and 3. pillar do they mean no additional contribution over the mandatory 7% or ANY?

Thank you for the replies!

Look around the forum for the tax deductions topic as well.

A bit canton dependent also, on what is accepted.

In ZH for example it‘s generally accepted to deduct a monthly subscription that would be needed for your commute. Doesnt matter what you take in the end.

For food, if no canteen or significant support from employer, deduct the full 15 chf per working day. Also no one will check how many days you actually are in the office or not here.

Health insurance etc: all basic insurance premiums already go above the threshhold already, essentially. So just deduct your health premiums and that‘s it.

Thank you! So basically I can just deduct the 3200 for travel and food, without it being counted as tax fraud? (I definitely spend more on both, just wasn’t sure how it’s tracked and proved)

The daily limit is for food at work. You can deduct up to 3200 for the year.

The cost for transportation is 12 monthly abos from home to workplace, these are separate.

Your health insurance will send you a tax statement. You enter the premiums paid. The tax tool will apply the maximum.

Don’t worry too much. The tool and the manual will pretty much guide you through those. There’s not much calculation or documentation needed for those during the year.

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Deducting this for home office days would be tax fraud, as I understand it. The salary statement may or may not indicate how many days you’re in the office.

Of course, if you have set days this is clear.

Normally people are flexible with their days and nothing is tracked anywhere.
I think this is also pretty much accepted, as you then also don’t deduct your home office from taxes. It’s pretty fair game imo.

It was a bit of a grey area during covid, and not all the cantons were applying the same rules. For example, ZH was accepting the deductions (travel, catering and flat rate professional expenses) as if the taxpayer was going full-time to the office:

Kosten für Büro zu Hause, Arbeitszimmerabzug
Die in Zusammenhang mit Corona-bedingtem Homeoffice angefallenen Kosten sind nicht abzugsfähig, da mit der Lösung gemäss dem Praxishinweis vom 9. September 2020 im Gegenzug die ungekürzten Fahr- und Verpflegungsmehrkosten abzugsfähig sind. Ausserdem sind mit dem Pauschalabzug für übrige Berufskosten allfällige Kosten in Zusammenhang mit Homeoffice, die nicht vom Arbeitgeber vergütet wurden, abgegolten. Diese Lösung ist für die meisten Steuerpflichtigen vorteilhaft.

AFAIK most cantons (e.g., SG, VD) took a much harder stance, allowing the deductions only for the effective days the taxpayer went to the office.

Now, I assume we are back to the pre-covid rules but it is worth noting that the federal government is planning to allow for a flat deduction of professional expenses (including travel and catering) which would be independent of the place of work (home/office) and income. I am expecting the tax offices to show some leeway at least until this project concludes.

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I’ve been deducting, without having been asked to prove the expenses, for years in ZH:

  • 12 monthly (instead of 1 yearly) public transport subscriptions from my flat to my workplace
  • 700 for bicycle
  • the full amount for lunch (3200), but I don’t receive any compensation for lunch, which would be included in the salary certificate (IIRC in that case, you can’t deduct anything for lunch)

I also simply deduct the full amount from my health insurance tax slip, which gets reduced automatically to the allowed amount by the tax software

I work from home 3-4 days a week, but don’t deduct anything for that in return. I’m not sure a hybrid system is something the tax authorities know how to handle.

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wouldn’t it have to be something wfh mandated by the employer rather than employee convenience for it to be deductible?

Would these changes be beneficial to us or not? As in, will we be able to deduct more or less?

In ZH yes, you need to show proof of your employer ordering you to work from home if you want to deduct costs for a home office.

Because you really buy them monthly or because you can deduct more that way?

Because you can deduct more that way. It’s common practice and you don’t need to proof it in any way.

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So the monthly GA price, or the yearly with monthly payment?

Exactly. I guess the reasoning is one can’t be expected to have enough money left over to be able to buy a yearly subscription.

It would depend on your situation. The federal government is suggesting that the lump sum deduction could be set at 6k/year for the federal taxes, but each cantons would then be free to choose the lump sum applicable for the cantonal/community taxes. Thus, depending on the cantons decisions pretty much all outcomes are possible (positive/negative) for all types of workers. Keep in mind that it would still be possible to claim the actual costs if they are above the lump sum allowances.

If you are an IT staff working from home (and assuming you are not pretending to go the office) you can pretty much be certain to benefit from the new regime.

You can deduct only 12x the price of a 2nd class monthly subscription between your domicile and place of work. For example, if you live and work in Zürich (city) and own a GA for your hobbies, you are allowed to deduct only 12x the price of a monthly subscription for ZVV Zone 110, not your GA.

On top of this, you can also deduct 700 CHF for a bicycle (allowed in combination with public transportation).

However, the total amount you can deduct for your costs of travel to work is capped. In SG, it caps at the cost of a 2nd class GA travelcard for adults for one year (based on a yearly bill) plus CHF 600. In 2023, that was CHF 4460. In ZH they allowed CHF 5000, while the federal level allowed CHF 3200.

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For food, on your yearly wage statement, there is a box which indicates if your company provides subsidised lunch or not.

If they provide subsidised lunch, then you can only deduct annually 1600 CHF. If they don’t; then it’s annually 3200 CHF. However if the lunch is free then of course there is nothing to deduct. Not sure how is it represented in salary statement though.

This is how ZH system works for „regular office“. It kind of assumes that home office expenses deducted are Zero

If you claim home office expense separately then I think above will become complicated

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I see, now it’s clear! So it’s probably better to move somewhere outside of Zürich (Winterthur, Zug, SG, Baden maybe) to be able to deduct the GA. Ofc rent and taxes also come into play, but I think those will come out ahead still

I don’t have any subsidiary for lunch, but I only go in the office once or twice a week. (This is not in the contract, since technically corporate policy says otherwise, and they could call everyone in anytime, just the Swiss branch being more lenient) so not sure how that will show up in the statements.