Zurich - provisional bill payment obligation

Hi all,

I have collected various pieces of information regarding the obligation to pay the provisional bill (provisorische Rechnung) for the state and municipal taxes (Staats- und Gemeindesteuern) each year which are due each September.

According to the information from the finance department of the city of Zurich, here is my understanding:

  • Payments made before 30.09 earn you interest (currently 0.25%)
  • If the final bill comes out on date X and you paid less that you should, then you pay interest (currently also 0.25%) for the period from 30.09 until X for the remaining amount.
  • If you do not pay the final bill within 30 days, you are charged 4.5% interest.

Here are my questions:

  1. Is the above correct? Can someone verify?
  2. Is it really obligatory to pay the provisional bill? Doesn’t it make more sense to pay the 0.25% interest and invest the cash isntead? Is there any other consequence for not paying the provisional bill, such as a debt register record?

Many thanks!

I understand it like you do, and I don’t think it’s obligatory to pay anything, but I would personally not like to go into debt this way (the mortgage is enough). The tax office in Zurich can take long time to process your return and by the time you get the final bill maybe the stock market has crashed and you’ll have to sell something at a loss to pay the taxes (plus the interests).

On a personal note, I just got my final bill from 2018: almost 30K CHF :frowning:

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In der Schlussrechnung werden in der Regel Zinsen berechnet:
[…]
2. zulasten des Steuerpflichtigen ab einem Verfalltag in der Steuerperiode. Die Einzelheiten, einschliesslich des Verfalltags in der Steuerperiode, werden durch Verordnung festgelegt."

§ 174 StG

"Als Verfalltag im Sinn von § 174 Abs. 1 lit. b StG gilt für die Staatssteuer:
1. wenn die Steuerpflicht schon vor dem 1. Januar bestanden hat, der 30. September in der Steuerperiode"

§ 49 StV

“…erscheint die Bezahlung der vo[m Steuerpflichtigen] geschuldeten Steuer als gefährdet, kann das Gemeindesteueramt oder das kantonale Steueramt auch vor der rechtskräftigen Einschätzung die Sicherstellung des mutmasslich geschuldeten Steuerbetrags verlangen. Die Sicherstellungsverfügung gibt den sicherzustellenden Betrag an und ist sofort vollstreckbar. Sie hat im Betreibungsverfahren die gleichen Wirkungen wie ein vollstreckbares Gerichtsurteil.”

§ 181 StG

“Die Sicherstellungsverfügung gilt als Arrestbefehl nach Art. 274 des Bundesgesetzes über Schuldbetreibung und Konkurs. Der Arrest wird durch das zuständige Betreibungsamt vollzogen.”

§ 182 StG

Why would you ever pay tax (before retirement), if you’re only paying 4.5% interest - when you can expect 6% p.a. on the stock market over the long term?

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Thanks, I should not write about things I don’t know.

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This gets me every time. From what I gather you earn way more than I do, yet I pay more taxes than you. At least now I’m know we’re not alone in Romandie, there’s also Basel!

I take it you’re being sarcastic here?

Other than that, it’d be nice if you could sum up the conclusions from reading the text auf Deutsch.

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30k are on top of what I had already paid…

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In that case, my bad. You said “final bill” and I assumed “final taxation”. Unfortunately I can say that I also know first hand how it feels to get a 20k+ tax bill on top of what one has already paid.

Gents … rather than boasting with who pays more taxes, don’t forget the cool guys are actually those who pay less taxes :wink:

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If the tax authorities deem you at risk for non-payment, they can secure assets.

Simplified speaking, this seems similar to debt enforcement - but they seem to have “shortcuts” in that they’re able to do it on their own and their order is similarly enforceable to a court decree.

I would not be surprised if some people in some municipalities get away with only paying interest from the due date and that’s that. I would also not be surprised if some municipalities’ tax authorities will take enforcement action based on the taxpayer’s refusal to pay on time.

Bottom line: I’d pay by 30 september.

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I generally recommend paying taxes monthly using a standing order. There isn’t really a point in accumulating money for taxes in a bank account these days. And short-term investment in stocks is not advisable either. Paying monthly keeps the bank account balance stable and you get at least a tiny bit of interest. It’s also helpful for people who have trouble controlling their spending but that aspect is probably not relevant to people here.

Depending on your tax municipality, you may be able to manage taxes online at eGov Box or Steuern verwalten - Stadt Zürich. Monthly payments during the tax year are not possible for federal taxes in ZH, though, as far as I know.

The exception is if you have sufficient cash beyond your emergency fund that you don’t need in the immediate future and also don’t want to invest. In that case paying taxes as early as possible (January) may make sense, so you at least get the 0.25% interest, better than your regular bank account.

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