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Withholding tax in Switzerland is a levy on capital gains, lottery winnings, life annuities, pensions and insurance benefits. Do you want to register for withholding tax, claim it back or have it refunded? Here you will find forms, interest rates, information on the declaration obligation, all circulars and instructions on withholding tax and information on foreign withholding taxes, arranged by country.
Questions & answers about the withholding tax
Claim to refund of withholding tax
Your bank or your representative submitted the application for a withholding tax refund. Please contact your bank or representative.
The FTA does not send a separate confirmation after the application is received. The FTA processes the applications in the order in which they were received. Processing can take several months, depending on the number and quality of received applications. As the FTA checks around 300,000 applications every year we ask for your patience and thank you for your understanding.
All positions listed in your application must substantiated either with a revenue statement or a list of securities. If the securities are deposited at a foreign bank, you must enclose the tax voucher(s).
In general, the claim for refund of withholding tax expires, subject to the exception stated in Article 32 paragraph 2 of the WTA, if the application is not submitted within three years after the end of the calendar year in which the taxable benefit becomes due.
Domestic legal entities request the refund of withholding tax at the FTA. If a double taxation agreement (DTA) is applicable, foreign private individuals and legal entities can also request the refund of withholding at the FTA.
Domestic private individuals can request the refund of withholding tax at the competent cantonal tax administration.
Preferably, advance tax ruling requests should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the address below. If the query is submitted electronically, it is not necessary to additionally submit the request in paper form.
Federal Tax Administration
DAS Main Division
The formal and material requirements for a ruling request are stated in the Communication 011 of 29 April 2019.
You will receive an electronic confirmation as soon as your ruling request is registered.
If further information is required or if there are any uncertainties, the person responsible for processing your request will contact you. Up to this point, there is no need for you to follow up the status of your request.
The processing time may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the current workload.
The subdivision External Audit of the DAS Main Division mainly examines whether payments in kind have to be determined. The company does not normally receive a report following the audit.
The FTA assesses the value of a company for withholding tax purposes using the indirect goodwill valuation method (intrinsic value plus capitalised earnings divided by 2). The valuation method must be appropriate. The indirect goodwill valuation method in order to determine the market value can yield appropriate results for SMEs. Otherwise, when determining the arm's length sales price, preference should be given to forward-looking methods (discounted cash flow); backward-looking methods such as the indirect goodwill (e.g. method are of limited or no suitability for this purpose). (cf. Federal Court decision of 18.9.2013 / 2C_310/2013).
According to civil law, the due date of a dividend is set at the company's general assembly. At this time, the corresponding withholding tax claim arises, which is due for payment 30 days later. If the company’s general assembly did not set a date for the payment of the dividend, the due date is the date of the general assembly.
If the distribution is not paid out to all participants in the same proportion to the nominal capital, this must be clearly stated in the form at the moment of declaration.
If the dividend is not paid out in relation to the participation quota, this must be stated in the articles of incorporation.
The FTA will send the approval for the removal of the company from the register of companies directly to the competent commercial register office as soon as the main VAT and DWS divisions have completed the usual checks related to the liquidation of the company.
In order for the DWS to be able to give its approval as soon as possible for the delisting of your company, the following documents are required for our verification:
- Annual accounts for the last five financial years, including the final balance sheet of the liquidation
- Declaration of any liquidation surplus using form 102
- Documents relating to sales of holdings, securities, real estate or other major sales or private withdrawals of assets
- Contact details (telephone number and e-mail address) for any further questions.
Please send these documents by post to the following address
Federal Tax Administration
Tax Collection Division
To assess the appropriate interest rate on advances or loans of participation holders or related third parties, the FTA uses the maximum interest rates published in its circular letter (in german).
For business loans, including larger loan amounts, the higher interest rate can be charged for the first CHF 1 million. The lower maximum interest rate is applied to the remaining amount (>CHF 1 million).
Intragroup loans granted as part of cash pooling or interest paid on such loans are generally accepted by the FTA if the taxpayer can demonstrate that they are not longterm loans. Thus, the use of cash pooling to finance certain transactions is generally not acceptable, particularly for acquiring participations, assets and dividend payments. In practice, certain ratios are used as a benchmark for assessing whether a cash pooling transaction is justified. Based on these ratios, and other characteristics – such as the financing purpose (e.g. dividend payment) – the taxpayer must demonstrate that the transaction is actually justified within the context of a cash pool, according to the arm's length principle. Otherwise, the transaction will be qualified as a longterm loan. In this case, the interest rates specified in the FTA's circular letters are applied.
Interest rates on cash pool balances must stand up to a third-party comparison. As a general rule, synergy effects from cash pooling must benefit all participants – once costs of the cash pooling have been offset. When setting the level of remuneration, the functions and risks assumed by the participants and the cash pool leader must be taken into account.
Depending on the sector, payment for a commercial delivery generally takes place within 30, 60 or 90 days. When the payment period has been significantly exceeded, the FTA deems that the amount in question equates to a loan, which must be remunerated at the rates specified in the circular letters of the FTA (in german).
The circular letters published annually by the FTA set the interest rates admissible under tax law for advances and loans; they constitute "safe haven" rules. When applying these rates, the taxpayer generally does not have to demonstrate that they comply with the arm's length principle.
As regards restructuring, we refer to chapter 6, General, in the FTA's circular Number 29b (PDF, 583 kB, 10.10.2023) (in german), Capital contribution principle, of 23 December 2019.
As part of its activities, the DAS Main Division of the FTA draws up and publishes circulars, circular lettersand guidelines. These elaborate the pertinent federal legislative framework with respect to withholding tax and the implementing ordinances, and serve to establish consistent practices.
To the Circulars (in german).
Among other things, the DAS Main Division is responsible for collecting and refunding withholding tax (to legal entities domiciled in Switzerland and to eligible claimants abroad). As regards withholding tax refunds to private individuals resident in Switzerland, the FTA oversees the competent cantonal tax administrations. As regards the application of the law concerning private individuals resident in Switzerland, please contact your cantonal tax administration.
If you have legal questions in the area of responsibility of the FTA, please contact the DAS Main Division using the withholding tax contact form. As regards the application of the law in a specific case, which is already pending, please note the corresponding formal requirements and deadlines.
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Last modification 02.08.2022