There are two types of family taxation: joint and separate assessment.
Couples in unseparated marriage and same-sex couples in a registered partnership are jointly assessed. Income, deductions and assets are calculated to determine a couple’s total economic capacity, independent of the matrimonial property regime (Güterstand). Thus, it makes no difference whether or not a property is held jointly or separately.
By means of compensation, only half the income that determines the tax rate is used to compute cantonal taxes (income splitting). Income splitting does not apply to direct federal taxes (direkte Bundessteuer). However, a favourable tax rate is used to calculate federal taxes. If both partners are gainfully employed, an additional deduction is granted (double-income household).
You can deduct a fixed amount per child from your cantonal income tax. As for direct federal income tax (direkte Bundessteuer), a fixed amount per child is deducted from your taxable income before calculation of tax payable. In order to qualify for child deductions, you must meet the requirements on the effective date (generally December 31st of the tax year). The deductions are to be made by the person who has parental authority for the child and in whose household the child lives (common household). Once a child comes of age (at the age of 18) but is still in school or vocational training and not able to cover living costs, deductions continue to apply. If both parents are working and/or invalid, the costs of third-party childcare for children under 15 years of age can be deducted from the taxable income used for cantonal income tax (max. CHF 5’500 per year per child).
Separate assessment applies to cohabiting couples, separated or divorced couples and single-parent families. Separate assessment takes effect in the year of separation or divorce for the full tax period. The couple’s status at the end of the tax year determines which system is applied. Taxation of alimony payments is as follows: The person making alimony payments can deduct these from taxable income. The person receiving the payments adds them to taxable income. This rule does not apply in the case of a lump-sum settlement.
Alimonies can only be deducted up to a child’s 18th birthday. Payments made after this point may no longer be deducted. However, if the child is still in school or training and requires financial support, a parent can make so-called support payments. After a child’s 18th birthday, support payments are considered part of the child’s taxable income rather than the custodian’s. By law, support payments are tax-free for the person making them, as long as they are in fact contributions to the support and education of the child.
If you have custody of your children and are responsible for raising them, you can continue to apply income splitting and child deductions after your children have come of age, as long as they are still in school or training. If you are working or invalid, the costs for third-party childcare for children under the age of 15 can be deducted from the taxable income for cantonal income tax (max. CHF 5’500 per child). If the parents have joint custody, the favourable tax rate and child deductions can be applied by the parent receiving alimonies. As child deductions are limited to one per child, only one parent can apply the deduction.
The Familienwegweiser Pro Familia also informs about tax deductions for families: www.profamilia.ch
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