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Higher federal tax deductions for health insurance announced

2 days ago

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com
The cost of Swiss health insurance has risen sharply over the years. However, the amount that can be deducted from income to calculate federal taxes has remained comparatively low. This week, Switzerland’s parliament voted in favour of closing the gap between the standardised health insurance tax deductions and what people actually pay, reported RTS.
The current deductions are CHF 1,700 for an adult, CHF 3,500 for a married couple and CHF 700 for a child. These are set to rise to CHF 3,000 for an adult, CHF 6,000 for a married couple and CHF 1,200 for a child.
The change is forecast to cost CHF 400 million in lost tax revenue, a CHF 315 million drop in federal tax income and a CHF 85 million fall in cantonal tax revenue.

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Concert tickets up to 77% more expensive in Switzerland

4 days ago

A survey found that the Swiss pay far more for concert tickets that their European neighbours. And the differences are significant, with Swiss price premiums ranging from 40% to 77% depending on the performer, reports RTS.

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.comAccording to Bon à Savoir, the consumer association behind the survey, there are many examples of inflated Swiss concert prices. For example, the cheapest spots to see the Rolling Stones in Bern were CHF 170. In Munich, the same ticket cost CHF 115 and in Milan it cost CHF 120.  The price paid in Switzerland was 49% higher than in Munich. For other concerts the price premium was even greater. The cheapest Ed Sheeran tickets in Bern were up to 77% more expensive than they were in the best priced European location.

When Swiss

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Finance minister thinks Switzerland needs to cut public spending

4 days ago

Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s finance minister, is concerned about Switzerland’s finances after a recent round of decisions to substantially increase public spending.

Swiss finance minister Ueli MaurerDuring June 2022, Switzerland’s parliament agreed to significant increases to spending on the army, healthcare and the environment. The situation is not sustainable Maurer told SRF.

In June, parliament agreed to boost military spending by CHF 2 billion, raising it from CHF 5 to CHF 7 billion between now and 2030. In addition, significant sums of money have been approved to boost healthcare in the face of rising health insurance premiums, and CHF 200 million has been earmarked for incentives to update building heating systems to cut emissions.

We must respect the debt brake, a mechanism

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Switzerland’s underground freight project gets start date

5 days ago

This week, a project to build an underground freight tunnel network stretching from Geneva to St Gallen, was given a start date of 1 August 2022 by the Federal Council, reported RTS.

The Cargo sous terrain (CST) project will connect Switzerland’s key hubs starting in 2031. CST aims to take the strain off the road and railway networks, reduce the environmental impact of transport and improve the delivery of goods across the country.

The project, which was launched in 2013, includes a three lane underground tunnel network with automated, driverless electric transport vehicles travelling at 30km an hour operating 24 hours a day. In addition, there will be a rapid overhead roof track will deliver smaller packages.

The first 70 km section of the tunnel network connecting

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Higher federal tax deductions for health insurance announced

5 days ago

The cost of Swiss health insurance has risen sharply over the years. However, the amount that can be deducted from income to calculate federal taxes has remained comparatively low. This week, Switzerland’s parliament voted in favour of closing the gap between the standardised health insurance tax deductions and what people actually pay, reported RTS.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.comThe current deductions are CHF 1,700 for an adult, CHF 3,500 for a married couple and CHF 700 for a child. These are set to rise to CHF 3,000 for an adult, CHF 6,000 for a married couple and CHF 1,200 for a child.

The change is forecast to cost CHF 400 million in lost tax revenue, a CHF 315 million drop in federal tax income and a CHF 85 million fall in cantonal tax revenue. The government is

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Psychotherapy to be covered by basic Swiss health insurance

11 days ago

From 1 July 2022, psychotherapy provided by trained psychologists will be reimbursed under Switzerland’s basic compulsory health insurance, reported RTS.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.comTo qualify for reimbursement the service will need to be prescribed by a doctor and meet certain conditions. Pricing for the service remains to be set. The federal government and cantons still need to work out a price for reimbursable services. In the meantime, a provisional rate of CHF 154.80 will apply until 31 December 2024.

In addition, there will be limits on the number of sessions that are covered. A prescription will allow up to 15 with the possibility of a second prescription of a further 15. After 30 sessions a report will need to be made to the insurance company’s advisory doctor

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French speaking politicians not always understood in Bern

11 days ago

Switzerland has four national languages but most of the population is fluent in only one of them. When politicians come together in Bern they generally speak in their home language assuming others present understand them, even if they cannot really speak the language spoken. This week, Pierre Nebel, a reporter at RTS, explored the level of French comprehension among non-French speakers in the Federal Palace.

© William87 | Dreamstime.comThe most widely spoken language in Switzerland is German along with some regional dialect of it. The written language used in official documents is standard German – see Swiss German study. German and its Swiss dialects are the local language for 63% of the population. French (23%), Italian (8%) and Romansh (1%) trail well behind.

Switzerland’s

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No tax cuts on fuel in Switzerland

12 days ago

This week, Switzerland’s upper house rejected proposals to cut the tax on fuel to counteract the impact of sharp price rises, reported RTS.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.comNeighbours France, Germany, Italy and Austria have all cut the tax on fuel. But Switzerland hasn’t. The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) has been pushing for one, arguing that its justified by the high financial burden of high fuel prices on commuters, middle class families, rural residents and businesses.

However, most other parties do not support fuel tax cuts. Some centrists argue that the move is not well targeted at those that really need it, while others, in particular the Green Party, think it reduces an incentive to cut fossil fuel consumption, which is damaging to the environment. On the left, the focus

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Migros to stay alcohol free after clear no vote

13 days ago

On 16 June 2022, the Swiss supermarket Migros announced that its members had voted in favour of maintaining a ban on the sale of alcohol in its stores, restaurants and takeaway outlets across all 10 of its regional cooperatives.

© Adriana Stampfl | Dreamstime.comWith record voter participation of more than 630,000 members (29%) – members were offered free chocolate for voting – the result was clear. 80% of voters in the Aare and Zurich regions voted to keep the alcohol ban. Basel (76%), Eastern Switzerland (76%), Luzern (75%), Fribourg-Neuchâtel (73%), Vaud (69%), Geneva (65%) and Valais (60%) were not far behind the two leaders. Only Ticino was close with 55% in favour of maintaining the ban.

The ban on selling alcohol has existed since 1928 when Migros’ founder Gottlieb Duttweiler

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Swiss central bank surprises market with interest rate hike

13 days ago

On 16 June 2022, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) surprised markets with a 50 basis point rise to its policy rate. The move marks the first time Switzerland’s central bank has raised rates since 2007.

SNB Governing Board – Fritz Zurbruegg, Thomas Jordan, Andréa Maechle – © Schweizerische NationalbankAimed at taming inflation, the announcement led to a 2% jump in value of the Swiss franc against the Euro to 1.02 CHF to EUR in morning trading with technicals pointing towards further strengthening. If the recent currency appreciation is durable it could shave 2% of the price of imports, which would tame imported inflation.

The SNB’s policy rate will move from -0.75% to -0.25% on 17 June 2022.

Inflation reached 2.9% in May and is likely to remain at an elevated level for the time being,

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Swiss airspace closed after computer failure

13 days ago

On 15 June 2022, Swiss airspace was closed after a computer malfunction.

© Nui7711 | Dreamstime.comAt 6:30 am the Swiss air navigation service provider Skyguide reported a technical malfunction and announced the closure of Swiss airspace for safety reasons. Two hours later at 8:30 am Skyguide reported that the technical malfunction had been resolved.

The outage affected several thousand passengers who were forced to wait in Geneva and Zurich, while incoming flights were rerouted to neighbouring airports, reported RTS. Some flights were rerouted to Milan.

Skyguide reported that an IT problem was discovered at 4:00 am. A hardware issue was identified in the network at the central computing centre in Geneva. The failure prevented data flowing from one part of the system to another.

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Switzerland adopts latest round of EU sanctions against Russia

16 days ago

© Ys7485 | Dreamstime.com On 10 June 2022, Switzerland’s government adopted the latest set of EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus, including an embargo on crude oil and certain refined petroleum imports from Russia. The sanctions are the sixth package and were adopted by the EU on 3 June 2022. An embargo on oil imports …

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Switzerland adopts latest round of EU sanctions against Russia

18 days ago

On 10 June 2022, Switzerland’s government adopted the latest set of EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus, including an embargo on crude oil and certain refined petroleum imports from Russia.

© Ys7485 | Dreamstime.comThe sanctions are the sixth package and were adopted by the EU on 3 June 2022. An embargo on oil imports from Russia by sea will be introduced progressively from early December 2022, and a ban on all Russian oil imports will then start two months later.

Around 40% of the gas and a quarter of the oil consumed in Europe comes from Russia.

This week Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the West is unlikely to reject Russian energy for years. In addition, rising oil and gas prices mean Russia is winning and losing at the same time. Reuters reported that U.S.

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Swiss minister calls on unions to negotiate pay rises

18 days ago

As the cost of living rises in Switzerland some are calling for pay increases. Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economics and education minister, says it is the responsibility of unions to negotiate pay rises, reports RTS.

In an interview with the newspaper SonntagsBlick, Parmelin said it’s up to unions to negotiate wage rises. The government should not get involved in talks between unions and employers, he said. However, if required, the federal government could make adjustments to welfare for lower income households.

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions reports that low wage earners are already feeling the crunch. Now the lowest paid 10% of employees are 60 francs worse off a month in real terms than they were in 2016, said the organisation.

In the year to the end of May 2022,

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SWISS cancels summer flights due to staff shortages

19 days ago

On 7 June 2022, Swiss International Air Lines announced that around 2% of passengers on scheduled flights to destinations in Germany, Poland, UK and Los Angeles would be affected.

A SWISS spokesperson said that bottlenecks at air control centres, ground and airport services in Europe and at SWISS were to blame. Personnel shortages at the airline are also reducing capacity.

SWISS said around 10,000 passengers would need to make other travel arrangements while around 20,000 others would be offered alternative flights. SWISS summer flights to Vienna will be operated by Austrian Airlines, a sister company of the German Lufthansa group, which owns SWISS.

The percentage of flights cancelled is less than 5% said a SWISS spokesperson. From Geneva the airline is cancelling 5 flights a

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SWISS repays Covid government guaranteed loans early

19 days ago

On 9 June 2022, Switzerland’s government announced that SWISS had repaid the loans the Confederation had guaranteed at the end of May 2022, ending the arrangement with no loss of public funds.

After the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the aviation industry, Switzerland’s Federal Council decided in spring 2020 to provide support in the form of guarantees to the airlines SWISS and Edelweiss to bridge liquidity shortfalls. Banks granted SWISS and Edelweiss a credit line of up to CHF 1.5 billion with a term of five to seven years. The Confederation then guaranteed 85% of the default risk.

The airline repaid the credit in full and ahead of schedule at the end of May 2022. The related contracts were definitively terminated on 7 June 2022. As a result, SWISS and Edelweiss no longer

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Swiss government changes solar electricity rules

22 days ago

On 2 June 2022, Switzerland’s parliament adopted two motions to accelerate the adoption of solar panels.
Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com
The first motion aimed to allow private individuals to earn better returns on the electricity they produce. Under the proposal they would be able to sell electricity to other individuals, municipalities and cantons without paying heavy network charges. 140 versus 48 voted in favour of this plan.
A second change compels the use of rail and road infrastructure to produce solar electricity. In addition, the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) must offer a third of its road infrastructure to third parties free of charge for the construction of electricity producing solar panels.
Also accepted (by 158 versus 11) was a motion removing

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Swiss salaries shrink for men and rise for women in 2021

23 days ago

Overall, in 2021, Swiss salaries shrunk by 0.2% in nominal terms and by 0.8% in real terms, given an annual rate of inflation of 0.6% across the year, reported the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) this week.
Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.comHowever, when broken down, women saw an overall increase in pay of 0.6% while men on average saw pay fall by 0.7%. The difference reflects differences in the type of work undertaken by men and women.
Pay for public sector jobs, a sector employing more women, jumped 3.7% in 2021. Sectors dominated by men did not enjoy the same level of pay increases.
Work such as coking coal, oil refining and chemical processing, typically dominated by men, saw nominal pay fall by 3.1%. Pay in software and IT, another sector favoured by men,

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Swiss salaries shrink for men and rise for women in 2021

25 days ago

Overall, in 2021, Swiss salaries shrunk by 0.2% in nominal terms and by 0.8% in real terms, given an annual rate of inflation of 0.6% across the year, reported the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) this week.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.comHowever, when broken down, women saw an overall increase in pay of 0.6% while men on average saw pay fall by 0.7%. The difference reflects differences in the type of work undertaken by men and women.

Pay for public sector jobs, a sector employing more women, jumped 3.7% in 2021. Sectors dominated by men did not enjoy the same level of pay increases.

Work such as coking coal, oil refining and chemical processing, typically dominated by men, saw nominal pay fall by 3.1%. Pay in software and IT, another sector favoured by men, also fell by

Read More »

Swiss government changes solar electricity rules

25 days ago

On 2 June 2022, Switzerland’s parliament adopted two motions to accelerate the adoption of solar panels.

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.comThe first motion aimed to allow private individuals to earn better returns on the electricity they produce. Under the proposal they would be able to sell electricity to other individuals, municipalities and cantons without paying heavy network charges. 140 versus 48 voted in favour of this plan.

A second change compels the use of rail and road infrastructure to produce solar electricity. In addition, the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) must offer a third of its road infrastructure to third parties free of charge for the construction of electricity producing solar panels.

Also accepted (by 158 versus 11) was a motion removing the possibility

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Swiss government to ease personal bankruptcy rules

25 days ago

Rules related to personal bankruptcy in Switzerland are tough compared to many countries. In effect, they give heavily indebted individuals breathing space rather than a clean slate. This week, Switzerland’s government put forward a plan to soften the rules.

© Andranik Hakobyan | Dreamstime.comTo initiate personal bankruptcy proceedings (technically insolvency proceedings) in Switzerland requires funds of around CHF 5,000 to cover the costs of the court and other agencies to restructure repayments. If the court accepts the application it restructures debts and gives the creditors involved loss certificates, documents which give creditors the option of claiming the money owed to them if the debtor’s situation improves, in effect buying the individual time rather than relieving them of

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Swiss unemployment drops sharply in first quarter of 2022

25 days ago

During the first quarter of 2022 the number of people employed in Switzerland rose by 1.7% and the unemployment rate, as defined by the International Labor Organisation (ILO) fell from 5.8% to 4.6%.

© Heying Hua | Dreamstime.comIn addition, the average number of hours worked by those employed rose by 2.8%.

The overall rate of unemployment in Switzerland by the end of the quarter (4.6%) was well below the rate across the EU (6.5%).

A total of 5.1 million people were working out of a population of 8.6 million. The sharpest rise in employment was among foreigners whose workforce participation rose by 4.1% compared to Swiss nationals whose participation rose 0.5%.

Unemployment among younger workers (15 to 24) also declined from 8.8% to 7.2%. Across the EU 14% were unemployed

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Swiss inflation rises further in May 2022

26 days ago

On 2 June 2022, Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office (FSO) published May inflation data, which show prices 2.9% higher than one year ago.

© Nora Tarvus | Dreamstime.comSwitzerland’s consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0.7% in May 2022 compared with the previous month. Inflation was +2.9% compared with the same month of the previous year. Inflation in Switzerland is currently running at its highest annual rate since 1993.

Big drivers of rising prices are higher energy prices and shortages of particular raw materials.

The prices of petrol (+27%), diesel (+30%), gas (+41%), heating oil (+82%) and kerosene have all risen substantially over the 12 months up till the end of May 2022. This has fed price increases such as the 58% rise in the cost of air travel.

Raw material

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Migros launches 10% deposit home loans in Switzerland

May 27, 2022

Buying a home in Switzerland is difficult. Homes are expensive and lending is typically restricted to those with a 20% deposit and significant income. Migros Bank, an offshoot of the Swiss supermarket, recently launched a product that reduces the deposit requirement to 10%.

© Anneleven | Dreamstime.comMigros bank has launched the new product under the brand Cactous. According to the bank, 9 out of 10 Swiss households are unable to buy because they don’t meet Switzerland’s rigid financing requirements, which require a 20% down payment.

Lending rules in Switzerland are set by FINMA, Switzerland’s banking regulator. Tight Swiss lending rules have been a bone of contention for banks and borrowers for some time. FINMA issues banking licences and can sanction licence holders that don’t

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Taxes to fall in the canton of Vaud

May 27, 2022

A recent political shift following cantonal elections in March 2022 has led to lower personal taxes in the canton starting in 2023, reported 20 Minutes.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comThe canton of Vaud has one of Switzerland’s highest personal tax burdens. In 2018, a couple with two children earning CHF 150,000 paid more than three times as much tax in Vaud as the same couple in the canton of Zug. The only cantons where taxes would have cost them more were Neuchatel, Jura, Solothurn, Bern and Appenzell-Ausserhoden – further cantonal personal tax comparisons can be found here.

Some political parties in Vaud, such as the PLR/FDP, the Liberal Greens and UDC/SVP have been pushing for tax cuts for many years. After the last round of cantonal elections in March 2022 they gained the

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Electricity prices set to jump next year in Switzerland

May 20, 2022

As the prices of the fossil fuels used to produce electricity rise so must the price of electricity. According to the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (AES), record market prices mean that a majority of electrical supply companies will have to charge their customers higher prices in 2023.

© Valery Shanin | Dreamstime.comA survey run by the Association at the beginning of May 2022 found that half of electricity supply companies in Switzerland plan to increase electricity prices by 20% or more in 2023.

A price rise from 21 centimes per kilowatt hour in 2022 to around 25 centimes per kilowatt hour in 2023 would mean an additional financial burden of around CHF 180 for a five-room household with an annual consumption of 4,500 kilowatt hours.

End price rises are muted by

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Federal government aims to make Swiss childcare cheaper

May 20, 2022

Switzerland has the world’s fourth most expensive childcare according to UNICEF. The federal government is working on a package of financial subsidies costing CHF 530 million a year to reduce the cost to parents, reported RTS.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.comA 2021 UNCEF study of childcare in rich nations ranks Switzerland as having the fourth most unaffordable childcare, a measure that considers the cost relative to income. The only places with more unaffordable childcare are Cyprus, the US and Slovakia. Switzerland also ranks in the bottom one third on quality.

Switzerland, Ireland and New Zealand have the least affordable childcare for the middle class. Two earners on average wages would need to spend between a third and a half of one salary to pay for two children in

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Recent price rises only the beginning, says Swiss consumer association

May 10, 2022

© Debove Eric | Dreamstime.com Food, energy and housing costs are rising in Switzerland and consumers are beginning to change their spending habits. So far inflation in Switzerland has been moderate with annual inflation of 2.5%. However, according to FRC, a consumer association in French-speaking Switzerland, recent price rises are only the beginning, reported RTS. …

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Health premiums to rise 5% says Swiss price comparison website

May 6, 2022

According to the price comparison website Comparis.ch obligatory Swiss health insurance premiums are set to rise by an average of 5% in 2023, in some cases as much as 10%.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.comKey drivers of the rise are the impact of the pandemic and pressure by the federal government on insurance companies to refund reserves to policy holders, said Felix Schneuwly, a health insurance expert at the company.

Before the refunds a number of insurance companies had sufficient reserves to absorb unexpected cost fluctuations. In some cases rather than refunds insurers set premiums artificially low to consume their reserves.

Schneuwly is also critical of government efforts to reduce costs. Rapid complex reform has overburdened the system with administration and

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Swiss government concludes discussions on cutting social welfare for foreigners

May 6, 2022

As part of a revision of the rules related to foreigners in Switzerland the federal government has concluded discussions around cutting welfare entitlements for nationals from much of the world, reported the newspaper Le Matin.

© Photosbypanda | Dreamstime.comDiscussions on restricting the welfare paid to some foreigners, which have been going on for some time, concluded on 3 May 2022.

The resulting plan aims to cut the amounts of welfare paid in the first three years of residence. It would not affect EU nationals and others covered under the European free movement rules.

Put together by the federal department overseeing social welfare, the plan would in effect create a two-tiered welfare system where recently arrived foreign citizens would be entitled to less than everyone else.

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