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New laws for the New Year

Is justice being done with the new laws?

(swissinfo.ch)

New Swiss laws entering into force on January 1 will give many residents a tax break, promote the use of generic drugs and ease food exports.

They are among nearly 300 changes to federal laws being introduced in 2006.

Residents who have moved into a higher tax bracket thanks to inflation-linked pay rises will not have to hand over more to the taxman next year.

The cabinet was obliged to adjust the tax brackets for Federal Direct Tax since the consumer price index has risen by more than seven per cent since tax brackets were last altered ten years ago.

It will also pay to be generous in 2006. Residents who give money to good causes will be allowed to deduct 20 per cent of donations instead of the current ten per cent from their federal tax bill.

Some people in Switzerland might want to put any savings towards their medicine bills because, from 2006, patients will be reimbursed less by health insurers, if they opt to take brand-name drugs.

Generic

Health insurance companies will be obliged to refund only 80 per cent of the cost of brand-name drugs, as opposed to 90 now, if it can be shown that there is an equivalent generic product on the market costing at least 20 per cent less.

The move, decided by the health office, is aimed at gradually chipping away at Switzerland's exploding healthcare costs, which have been rising by many times the rate of inflation since the late 1990s.

Pension age

Also causing consternation is the state of the country's occupational pension schemes, many of which are expected to tumble into the red in the coming decades, as the average age of the population continues to rise.

As of January 1, workers will have to wait until they are 58 before they can start drawing their occupational pension, as against 55 now.

Finally, barriers to food exports into the European Union should ease next year because Switzerland is officially adopting EU law on food safety.

The new rules require firms in the food sector to register with the cantonal authorities, and meat, fish and mussel processing companies must now apply for a permit.

Companies will be obliged to document each measure taken to adapt the new laws.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

283 changes to Swiss laws are coming into force in 2006, 15% more than this year.
Changes to the law on taxation, health insurance and food safety are among the most important.

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