Which Swiss cantons tax their residents the most?

Which Swiss cantons tax their residents the most?

A new analysis from the Federal Finance Administration (FFA) has revealed the Swiss cantons that charge their residents most in taxes. The government noted that while Switzerland as a whole is famed for low levels of taxation, there are dramatic differences between regions.

The tax potential of people in Switzerland

Rather than focusing on specific forms of taxation, the FFA study sought to find out which cantons “exploited the tax potential of individuals” the most and the least. In short, the study wanted to calculate how much of a person’s wealth is eaten up by each canton’s tax system once all forms of tax and wealth are combined. 

Wealth was calculated by canton as an individual's salary and other forms of income, latent wealth through assets and savings, and other smaller factors. This is then compared to tax rates in each region to show what percentage of residents' wealth is, on average, taken by cantonal and federal authorities.

Vaud and Geneva have highest tax burdens in Switzerland

For 2024, Canton Vaud and Geneva were found to place the highest average tax burden on residents. In the two French-speaking cantons, an average of 25,6 percent of an individual’s wealth is paid to tax, well above the Swiss average of 19,5 percent.

The FFA added that Canton Vaud has seen the biggest rise in tax exploitation, with public revenues rising by 1,9 percent between the start and end of 2023, despite taxable incomes stagnating. Basel-Stadt (23,8 percent), Bern (22,3), Neuchâtel (20,7) and Fribourg (20,1) rounded out the top six.

Disconnect between Swiss tax rates and tax potential

However, the government did note that Vaud and Geneva’s high place on the ranking is also down to the fact that the cantons are home to more affluent people, which pushes average tax revenues up as wealthy individuals pay more in tax.

This leads to a slight disconnect between a canton's real tax rates and its tax potential in the ranking. For instance, while Basel-Land has the second highest average cantonal income tax in Switzerland, after Geneva, it finds itself mid-table in the ranking because a smaller percentage of people in the canton earn enough to be charged the higher rates.

On the other side of the ranking stood what can only be described as the "usual suspects" when it comes to Switzerland and low taxation: Zug, Schwyz and Uri took the bottom three. Despite being some of the most affluent people in Switzerland, extremely low tax rates mean the residents of Zug only have to spend 11,9 percent of their wealth on taxes. 

Which Swiss cantons tax their residents most and least?

In all, here are the Swiss cantons that tax their residents most in 2024 (as an average percentage of wealth):

  • =1. Vaud (25,6)
  • =1. Geneva (25,6)
  • 2. Basel-Stadt (23,8)
  • 3. Bern (22,3)
  • 4. Neuchâtel (20,7)
  • 5. Fribourg (20,1)
  • 6. Appenzeller Innerrhoden (19,9)
  • =7. Ticino (19,6)
  • =7. St. Gallen (19,6)
  • =7. Jura (19,6)
  • 10. Graubünden (19,5)

In contrast, these are the 10 cantons that tax their residents the least:

  • 1. Zug (11,9)
  • 2. Schwyz (12,8)
  • 3. Uri (13,5)
  • 4. Nidwalden (13,5)
  • 5. Obwalden (14,5)
  • 6. Aargau (15,4)
  • 7. Glarus (15,5)
  • 8. Appenzell Ausserrhoden (16,3)
  • 9. Thurgau (16,7)
  • 10. Schaffhausen (16,8)

For more information, check out the official report.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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