Stop paying church taxes

If you’ve checked your tax report you might have noticed that you are paying some money to the church of your faith (roman-catholic or protestant). The canton is billing you based on whatever you mentioned when you settled in Switzerland or as per faith you were born with.

Depending on domicile, income, wealth, children, and faith you might be paying between CHF 750 and 1400 per year. This adds up over the years!

To get those costs down you can look for “Kirchensteuer Schweiz Brief-Vorlage” and send it out or choose “konfessionslos” next time you settle in Switzerland.

Each has to make up their own mind about this step. If you want any services from the official church - you pay. Some services like marriage and funerals are organized by the local community and you get it by just paying normal taxes.

For me it was a matter of ownership. I wanted to decide as much as possible what is purchased with my money. No questions were ever asked but it could be that someone you know from your community will visit you to ask about your motivation to stop being a member of the church. Might lead to raised eyebrows in smaller and conservative communities.

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Yes, my church taxes are the most expensive “membership fee” for an “association” in my budget. And I’m not really a frequent guest in the church. However, I feel that if the social work churches currently do, has to be taken over by public services, we all will pay much more in normal taxes…

Another, more drastic measure, is to renunciate your “membership” to a church/religion through apostasy, meaning you will loose any connection to it. Through this, you can therefore be dispensed from paying church taxes, if your canton doesn’t allow you to opt out otherwise. If I’m not mistaken, this is the case in Bern for example, where you can’t be baptized and declare yourself “konfessionslos” on your tax report.

Just be sure that this is what you really want to do before acting on it. The normal procedure to do that is through a letter of intention sent to the authorities (no idea who/what office), as the church (at least the Catholic Church) doesn’t care about apostasy anymore since 2010.

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Hello, I’m resuscitating this old thread as something came up recently and I’m not sure what I should do.
We are going to baptize our newborn in Italy. In Italy they asked for an ok from our local church. We got the ok via email (and got asked to meet in person).
Few days later I received an “invoice” from the church as “church tax 2022” of 10 francs to be payed before the end of July.
I’m not warried about the 10 francs but that it would be used to make me pay much more going forward.

Any suggestion here? Can I just “not pay” it?

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The “correct” way of invoicing church membership is through the tax bill. Therefore I would not pay the invoice and wait for the tax bill that may or may not come automatically from now on. Logically, the church is right to assume you are interested in joining them, as you have acknowledged their authority by asking for permission. I guess it must have been your spouse’s wish to babtize your child. Keeping peace with her is worth much more than the couple 100 francs you might end up paying for church tax.

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When I registered in Zurich and told the girl that my confession is none (keine), this led to raised eyebrows, and a concerned question “Keine??”.

I think if you attend church weekly, it’s kinda fair if you pay. For me it was a no-brainer. It actually felt good that church financing is transparent in CH and you can tell them NO. In Poland the priests collect money through various ways and it remains untaxed.

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haha! This reminds me of my own story. Indeed, when I settled in Zurich a while ago and registered at the Gemeinde/commune, the lady asked me about my confession. When I said ‘none’ she seemed confused as well, and mumbled something along the lines of “but surely you’ve been baptized, right?”, to which I replied yes, and didn’t think much more of it.

A few months later I realized that she had put me down as catholic, and that now I had to pay the corresponding taxes. So I wrote to the Kirchgemeinde (parish) in Zurich informing them that I was withdrawing from the church effective immediately (committing apostasy, as it were). I had been warned by colleagues that an appointment with a priest or a church representative might be part of this ‘separation’ process, but in the end I simply received an official letter a few weeks later confirming my withdrawal (Kirchenaustritt).

Note 1: this was done out of my own personal beliefs (or lack thereof), and not merely because of taxes. So this avenue is obviously not appropriate for everyone.

Note 2: user @Josh mentions above that the Catholic Church doesn’t care about apostasy anymore since 2010. My story is from 2008, so potentially not relevant anymore.

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What a b…ad person :smiley: . I mean really, do you have to get a signed Quittung each time, to make sure they’re doing their job? My flatmate originally registered as catholic, but soon realized he doesn’t want to pay 1000 CHF per year for church, especially that he never goes, so he updated his status. There was no issue. He married and baptised his child in Poland, I think.

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Cool down man…

(…)

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Why not just call and ask?
I don’t think they can tax you since you never signed a document saying that you are catholic or protestant.

Thank you all for your answers.
I checked the laws in Ticino (referenced in the letter) and, as it’s also written in the tax bill balance (not invoice as I mentioned before), I have 30 days to make a claim against the request. So this is what I will do.
Checking the laws I also discovered that they can make me pay for 2022 only if I was registered before March.
I’ve never been inside that church and they include me in their list. I really don’t like the shady tactics that they have used here…

Btw I also got the eyebrows when I registered the first time in Aargau for having no religion…

That’s weird people would react. There are more people with no religious affiliation than protestants (Non-believers make up nearly 30% of Swiss population - SWI swissinfo.ch)

And I assume it will soon also be larger than the share of roman catholics.

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If you did quit church make sure to keep the confirmation letter from them.

I did quit some years ago while living in a big swiss city. Last year I moved back to my hometown, dis all the process with eUmzug. Beginning of the year I saw in my tax declaration „reformiert“ crossed. This field can only be changed from the Einwohnergemeinde.

The people there told me, that they git the information from my old city that I left church bus since I was member in my hometown-church in my childhood they expected me to be member again.

It took them over 2 month to clear this with the canton IT guy responsible for the tax system.

What stressed me most is: churches are regional/ kommunal organised. I automatically left my hometown church when moving to the city. After i did officially quit big city church. Back in my hometown the Gemeinde just assigned me to this non-mandatory but payable membership without asking

Bottom line: when moving make sure to show the new Gemeinde your exit-confirmation.

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