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Filing Your Tax Return: The Annual Tax Office Greeting

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Every year, your tax return lands ‘unexpectedly’ in your mailbox. There is no time to fill it out. So you procrastinate until this annoying task has become urgent. Having to fill out a tax return under pressure is never a good strategy though, which is why we have compiled the most important information for you in this blog post

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The tax return has arrived, now what?

Step 1: Request a deadline extension

As soon as the tax return arrives, an extension for the deadline can be filed. This eases time pressure in the case of unforeseen events.

Step 2: Preparation During The Year

Good preparation is key! This means collecting the relevant documents on income and expenses during the year and storing them separately, e.g. in a separate folder or in a designated section of your existing folder. Tidiness in this regard will make filling in the forms more efficient and easier.

Step 3: Filling In The Tax Return

Filling out your tax return should not be done thoughtless or in a hurry. Give yourself ample time to complete this task and:

  • Take the collected documents from Step 2 and use our checklist to make sure you have gathered all the necessary documents

  • Have a copy of last year's tax return on hand because comparing the two can help ensure that no information is omitted

  • Adjust any personal changes if this is relevant (new address, marital status, separation, etc.)

  • Complete the tax return

  • Print the tax return and check your information again before finalizing the tax return.

If everything is correct, you can keep your tax return on file as a PDF or on paper. Important: At the request of the tax office, you must be able to prove all sources of income and expenses as stated. Lump-sum deductions are excluded from this. Therefore, it is advisable that you keep all documents, receipts and contracts pertaining to your tax return.

Step 4: After Filing

After filing the tax return, write down your provisionally calculated tax amounts. You should include these calculations in your budget. This calculation helps prevent nasty surprises in the current and following year, and it also helps with a view to liquidity planning. Do not forget that you will receive a state and municipal tax as well as a Direct Federal Tax bill.

Step 5: Receipt of The Final Bill

After the tax office has completed its review, you will receive a definitive tax assessment decision (final bill). Compare this against the tax return you submitted.

If the final assessment decision and your tax return match, everything is fine. If the amounts are different, you will receive the assessment decision in the same envelope. The changes that were made to the submitted tax return are noted on it. If you do not agree with these changes, you have the possibility to appeal against the assessment decision within 30 days. This must be justified and documented with evidence.

You’re done!


Tax Return Glossary

  • Assessment Period: the period in which the income, on which the tax calculation is based, was earned.

  • Church Tax: state-recognized church communities levy a tax on the members of their congregation.

  • Direct Federal Tax: a tax levied in Switzerland by the federal government on income (in the case of companies, on profits). The legal basis is the Federal Law on Direct Federal Tax (German: DBG) and it is anchored in the Federal Constitution. The direct federal tax is assessed and collected by the cantons on behalf of the federal government.

  • Discretionary Assessment: if the taxpayer has not submitted a tax return, the tax administration estimates their income, assets and deductibles to the best of its knowledge and belief. This occurs if the taxpayer has not submitted a tax return despite being reminded to do so.

  • General Deductions: deductions that are not directly related to specific sources of revenue, such as debt interest, insurance premiums, medical expenses and others. The amount classed under ‘general deductions’ is limited.

  • Imputed Rental Value: calculation which corresponds to the amount that the owner would earn if the property were rented to a third party. This is taxed as income.

  • Income Tax: the tax levied on the income of natural persons. The tax base is the taxable income.

  • Income value: the economic benefit of a property or business. The income value is calculated on the basis of the income that the property yields.

  • Market Value: current value of real estate on the market.

  • Non-Punitive Self-Disclosure: previously undeclared income and assets can be declared in a voluntary disclosure, which remains penalty-free under certain conditions.

  • Present taxation/ Postnumerando Taxation: the taxable income is calculated on the basis of the income generated during that tax period.

  • Professional Expenses: expenses which are directly necessary for the generation of income, such as travel costs, additional costs for meals, lump-sum deductions for other business costs, education and (re-)training.

  • Social Deductions: flat-rate deductions that can be claimed regardless of the type of income.

  • Tax Segregation: this applies if someone is liable to pay taxes in one or more cantons.

  • Tax Period: the period of time when tax is due. It follows the calendar year.

  • Tax Progression: the increase of the tax rate depending on the increase of the taxable income.

  • Tax Rate: the calculation which measures the amount of tax due.

  • Wealth Tax: tax on the total assets of a taxpayer.


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