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Fiscal equality Government seeks to end ‘unequal’ taxation of married couples

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In 2016, it was estimated that about 80,000 married couples in Switzerland pay thousands more per year in tax than their unmarried counterparts, who are taxed individually


The government says it wants to amend Switzerland’s tax laws to ensure equal fiscal treatment of married couples compared to unmarried cohabitating couples. The recommendation must still be approved by parliament. 

On Wednesday, the executive bodyexternal link outlined its plan to end long-running tax disparities affecting married couples — a treatment which it claims is “unequal” and “unconstitutional”. 

Under the government’s proposal, a tax authority must first calculate how much a married couple would owe jointly. It must then carry out a second calculation for the couple, but this time, the calculation should be based on a cohabitating couple taxed individually. The married couple should pay the lower of the two tax estimates, the government said in a statementexternal link

+ More on marriages in Switzerland

In 1984, the Federal Court ruled that tax levied on a married couple is unconstitutional if it exceeds 10% of the amount they’d have paid as people cohabitating. In 2016, it was estimated that about 80,000 couples in Switzerland – representing 5% of all marriages or registered partnerships – are at a disadvantage, with some paying thousands more per year in tax than their unmarried counterparts, who are taxed individually.  

On Wednesday, parliamentarians from the centre-right Christian Democratic Party and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party voiced their support for the government’s project. However, it was criticised by the centre-left Social Democrats and Green Party, which warned that this “tax gift” would only benefit the wealthy and would have an impact on the federal coffers.

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