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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

How Switzerland’s Covid switch to card has made things more expensive

Finally, you can now pay in Switzerland with card at plenty of shops and retailers, although the change is placing upward pressure on costs of living.

A person pays with card at a hair salon. Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash
A person pays with card at a hair salon. Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

For many, one of the few silver linings of the Covid pandemic was a final push in the direction of card payments. 

Unlike just two years ago, it is now possible to pay with cards rather than cash at a wide array of shops, stores and businesses all across the country. 

However, what we’ve gained in terms of convenience we may be paying for – quite literally. 

READ MORE: How the cost of living will change in Switzerland in 2022

Prices of everyday items are going up due to the added costs for businesses of setting up card payment systems, along with the costs which are levied on each transaction. 

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How much are things going up by?

According to a study by Switzerland’s Watson news organisation, the average card transaction costs the company 11 cents. 

The banks charge a fixed rate of ten cents per transaction, along with a fee which averages out at 0.7 cents for each transaction. 

READ MORE: Could Covid end the Swiss love affair with cash?

While the costs of each transaction have actually decreased since the start of the pandemic – pre-pandemic transactions cost roughly 28 cents each – the costs are still difficult for businesses to bear. 

With other costs on the rise due to inflation, the Covid pandemic and climate change leading to unpredictable crop yields over the past year, it has become even more difficult for businesses to absorb these costs. 

https://www.watson.ch/wirtschaft/schweiz/719657169-neue-bezahlgewohnheiten-wegen-corona-darum-wird-das-gipfeli-teurer

As a result, they are being passed on to the consumer. 

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For members

LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Meals, commuting and ‘home office’: What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

Working from home has been mandatory in Zurich for much of the past tax year. What can you claim on tax - and what costs do you have to bear yourself?

Meals, commuting and 'home office': What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

On Thursday, February 17th, the Swiss government rolled back the working from home recommendation, meaning that working from home was purely up to employers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

Technological advances and the enduring legacy of the pandemic will see working from home – known in German as ‘Home Office’ – become more common in several industries in the coming years, which has clear tax implications. 

These can be relatively complex, particularly as many of the tax rules are in place at a cantonal level. 

Here’s an overview of what you can claim in Zurich – and what you cannot – when it comes to working from home. 

For a general guide on tax rules in Switzerland when it comes to working from home, check out the following link.

Reader question: Can I deduct working-from-home costs from my Swiss taxes?

Don’t live in Zurich – or want to know what costs other than working from home you can deduct? Check out the following extensive guide. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

What tax deductions can I have working from home in Zurich? 

Along with Zug, Geneva and Basel (both City and Country), Zurich allows residents to claim professional expenses as they would in a normal year, i.e. despite the Covid pandemic.

This means that you can claim meal costs and transport to work, even if you worked from home during this time. 

You can claim up to CHF15 per day, or 3,200 francs per year in Zurich. 

If you employer offers subsidised meals, you can claim a maximum of CHF7.50 per day (or CHF1,600)

Regarding transport costs, you can deduct up to CHF3,000 per year for your commute. 

This includes public transport, bicycles and mopeds. 

If you travel by private car, you can only deduct this if it is difficult to take public transport.

This is deemed to be the case if both your home and workplace are more than a kilometre from the nearest public transport stop, or if more than one hour is saved by travelling by car (per day). 

If you are unable to travel by public transport due to an injury, then you are permitted to deduct your car expenses. 

What about rent, electricity and other working-from-home expenses? 

While several Swiss cantons allow you to claim expenses of working from home like rent, electricity etc, Zurich authorities have expressly ruled this out. 

As the above costs (transport and meal allowances) have been kept in place, this is seen as a form of compromise. 

Taxpayers in Zurich are also able to claim the flat-rate deduction for all professional costs associated with working from home that are not covered by the employer, although this is only in relatively narrow scenarios. 

“This solution is advantageous for most taxpayers” say Zurich cantonal authorities. 

As with all our tax reports, this is intended as a guide only and should not take the place of qualified tax advice. More Zurich-specific information is available at this link. 

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