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Government against military tax waiver for Vatican’s Swiss Guard

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An initiative to exempt the Swiss Guard from paying a penalty for not completing their mandatory military service in Switzerland does not have support from the government. 

This content was published on May 15, 2021 - 11:22
swissinfo.ch/ac

On Thursday, the governing Federal Council decided not to exempt the Swiss Guards from the consequences of avoiding compulsory military service for the duration of their commitment to the Holy See. The move was in response to a bill adopted by the Security Policy Committee of the House of Representatives. 

The Federal Council acknowledged that the Swiss Guard performs a special service that is beneficial to Switzerland's reputation abroad. However, it regards their contribution as a police service for a foreign state rather than carrying out military service abroad. The government was also of the opinion that they do not perform an essential activity for the benefit of the Swiss population which would entitle them to an exemption from the military tax. 

Another justification given was that a waiver would violate the law in terms of discrimination against other religions, since only Swiss citizens of the Roman Catholic faith are admitted to the service of the Holy See. Furthermore, it would violate the principle of equal treatment of all those subject to the military exemption tax.

Switzerland currently has mandatory military service in the army for all able-bodied male citizens who are conscripted from the age of 18. A person who does not perform military service between the age of 19 to 37 is liable to a military exemption tax which can be imposed a maximum of 11 times. The tax adds up to 3% of taxable income per year with a minimum penalty of CHF400 (around $445).

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