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The Swiss have a reputation of being calm, relaxed – and rich! With 15.5% of the total population officially classified as millionaires, there are certainly wealthy people to be found in Switzerland. But scratch beneath the surface and many of the 9 million people now living in Switzerland also face normal day-to-day cost of living issues – just like the rest.

In this brief update, we look at some of the stories hitting the headlines this week.

 

Marriage Tax

The age for people getting married in Switzerland is rising, with the actual number of people getting married falling. And with married couples taxed on their combined incomes, unlike unmarried couples living together –  who are taxed individually – there is an obvious disincentive for people to get married.

Various voices and political parties have been highlighting this inequality for years and lobbying to remove the discrimination.

This week, the Swiss Federal Council presented a proposal to introduce individual taxation irrespective of marital status. This will now be discussed in parliament and in the upper house.

Currently, this inequality in tax affects around 450’000 married couples in work plus 250’000 retired couples, representing approximately 8% of the population.

Married pensioners also suffer from another penalty whereby they receive only 1.5 times the individual state pension, whereas if they were living together and not married, they would earn 2 times that amount.

Organisers of the initiative addressing tax inequalities for married couples are also backing a similar initiative to address the unequal pension situation.

However, to remove tax and pension inequalities would be costly. Switzerland’s finance minister Karin Keller-Sutter recently issued a statement saying the cantons would have to support the initiatives but they are calling for a 10-year transition phase.

 

 

 

Swiss immigration up sharply in 2023

Over the last 50 years, the population of Switzerland has grown from 6.31 million to 9 million today. And in 2023 net migration to Switzerland stood at 98’851. This according to data from the State Secretariat for Migration. This exceeded the previous year by 21.5%.

Also in 2023, there were 30’223 asylum requests submitted in Switzerland. This is 23.3% more than the previous year.  And the State Secretariat for Migration expects around 30,000 new asylum requests for 2024.

In total 181’553 people immigrated to Switzerland last year – 71.9% came from an EU or EFTA member state. At the same time, there was obviously a high turnover of around 44% of those entering Switzerland from 2009 and who had left by 2023.

The number of skilled workers moving to Switzerland to fill job vacancies could potentially have a knock-on effect on some support services such as housing, healthcare and education. That said, skilled labour is in high demand in order to fill the growing number of new and high-tech roles opening up here.

 

 

 

And finally, the gift that keeps giving

A car ban was set up in September 2023 on a 60-meter stretch of the well-known Langstrasse in Zurich from 05.30-22.00 every day. The goal: “To make the area more cycle-friendly”. This was followed by the introduction of traffic cameras in early 2024 to monitor and fine offenders. Since this time, over 17’310 fines have been issued to drivers not adhering to the ban.

With each offence costing CHF 100.00 the fines have now generated a whopping CHF1.7 million for city coffers. However, there are murmurs that the authorities are not happy given the sheer number of fines issued and that they would like to see this number fall. It is proposed to introduce an awareness campaign or look at other solutions to help drivers realise their mistake before the event occurs. Currently the fun continues!

Maybe Zurich city council could use the funds generated to organise an awareness event such as a street party or open day? This would help the city meet its goal for the area to be more friendly and also give drivers who were fined a chance to get to know this lively street from a whole new perspective!

 

Accurity is SECO licensed to provide employment services in Switzerland for companies of all sizes from multi national corporations to SME’s. Please contact us on switzerland@accurity.ch or on +41 (0) 400 5585 to find out more about the services we offer clients, contract staff and recruiters. Contact our team to see how we can help you!

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