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I work in Switzerland and pay my taxes in Switzerland. I was thinking about filing a tax return - but I do not see the point.

There might be some basic reduction to work-related expenses anyway, and the expected return on my most expanses (many trips to Switzerland) I could only get back the taxes for a small amount, that is maybe 2 CHF per month for a grand total of maybe 30 CHF per year?

So why all the work?

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    I'm not sure what question you are asking. If you earned income on a country, filing an account income tax form is usually required, and in some cases can result in your actually receiving money back.
    – keshlam
    Mar 18 at 12:15
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    I live in France currently. And the money I can receive back seems to be only marginal compared to my income. So is it worth the trouble (I do not have to file an income tax things, as I am taxed at the source ...)
    – Alex
    Mar 18 at 12:27
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    I think the question you should really be asking is: what are the ramifications of not filing? It could be jail, a fine, a stern talking to, or maybe nothing. Once you know that, I think you'll know what the fuss is about and/or why you should(n't) care.
    – JimmyJames
    Mar 18 at 21:07
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    @Alex if you live in France more than 6 months in the year, you also have to file a tax return in France. Filing is mandatory (even if it is in the refund position) and failure to do so is punished by harsh fines.
    – spectras
    Mar 19 at 5:00
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    The key aspect is that you are a "cross-border commuter", "frontalier" in French. There are bilateral agreements and treaties that govern cross-border commuters, which the existing answers do not cover. You are typically not required to file in Switzerland, but you are required to do so in your home country (at least this is the case if you live in Germany and commute into Switzerland). Cross-border commuting makes for a huge number of special and corner cases. I would definitely recommend you talk to a professional, and not to random internet strangers. This can be worth a lot of money. Mar 19 at 9:44

2 Answers 2

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You file a tax return to reconcile your taxes. This might result in you owing a small amount, or getting a refund of a small amount. Most countries arrange for the tax withheld by employers to be a tiny bit too much, so that people will get refunds, so that people will be eager to file their tax returns. But eager or not, you are expected to do so, and there may be punishments for not doing so. That's why most people participate in "all the fuss" about tax returns.

For most people, your income has not been taxed at source: an estimate of what they guess your tax will be has been withheld from you and sent to the government. Filing your taxes changes the estimate to the actual number, and settles any difference between what was withheld and what your actual tax should be.

However, you may be one of the groups of people in Switzerland who are taxed at source. https://www.ch.ch/en/taxes-and-finances/types-of-taxation/tax-at-source says that such people "do not need to fill out a tax return" so if you are in that category, it may indeed not be worth the trouble. That said, there's more benefit to a return than just the refund. It is official government paperwork about where you were and what you earned in a time period. For example it's common here in Canada for lenders to ask for copies of the "notice of assessment" we get after we file our taxes. Make sure you understand what you're not bothering to get before you choose not to get it.

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    Are you convinced this is true in Switzerland? It's true in North America, but in many countries in Europe tax is taken off at source and matches very closely with the tax you will eventually pay. In the UK you explicitly don't have to fill in a tax return at all unless you have additional income that is not from employment or normal investments. Mar 18 at 19:50
  • @DJClayworth This may differ by country then. In The Netherlands, an estimate is withheld by employers, but this is not always exact, and filing a tax report is mandatory.
    – marcelm
    Mar 18 at 20:11
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    @marcelm filing a tax return in The Netherlands is not mandatory per se. You only need to file if asked specifically OR if you know that you owe more tax than witheld already. Anyone is free to file a return however so if for example you have high health expenses in one year you can file and get some money back. If you owe approximately € 50 (exact amount can be looked up) or less you won't have to pay. Having said this, the vast majority has to file a return because of mortgage or known wealth. Mar 18 at 20:48
  • When lending money in Germany, you may need to show a few paystubs. Most certainly not your income after tax for a whole year. Mar 18 at 22:48
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    @DJClayworth: The linked page says this is, in fact, true in Switzerland. Only a small subset of Swiss taxpayers are taxed at source. Mar 19 at 0:20
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Being taxed at source only applies to main income as an employee. One could have other income streams that need to be declared, rental incomes, crypto/stock incomes (one bitcoin,lucky you!), interest on savings in banks, although in most EU countries, the bank will inform tax administration separately.

It is also where you can claim tax offset based on some government subsidies e.g. buy a pellet burner or a EV car and get tax reduction.

Finally, it is the fastest way for you to declare a change of situation to the tax administration, think addition to the family, which is going to impact your tax bracket.

One side note, as you tagged France in your post, declaration des impots sur le revenue in France is mandatory and subject to penalty if not submitted. If you are a French national living in Switzerland, I really recommend doing the french tax return too and declaring 0.00 as you are out of the territory, otherwise you are going to have the worst time getting back into the tax system if you return (personal experience after 10 years overseas).

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