Swiss public votes NO – Financing of the AHV by increasing the VAT rate

At yesterday’s popular vote, the Swiss voters have refused to raise the VAT rates in order to finance old age pensions.

Since a temporary VAT rate increase from the past runs out, the VAT rates will actually decrease:





Within the next three months, your company should take the following actions:

  • VAT codes in your ERP system

Adapt the VAT codes and add the new output and input VAT codes (standard rate 7.7%, special rate 3.7%)

  • Applicable VAT rate

Please check at which VAT you may invoice your supplies. To determine the correct VAT rate, it is decisive when you actually perform the supply. For all supplies done in 2017, the current VAT rates apply, even if you invoice them only in 2018. For all supplies provided in 2018, the new VAT rates apply, even if you invoice them in 2017. For input VAT, only the amount shown on the invoice is relevant.

  • Invoice templates and forms

We recommend you adjust the VAT rates in all your invoice templates and forms and all your systems.

  • Offers, contracts and agreements

Check how you define VAT in all your agreements with suppliers and customers. If you state a fixed percentage (e.g. incl. 8% VAT), we recommend you discuss with your counterparty whether the agreement should be adapted. As a general rule, we recommend to state “incl. (or excl.) VAT at the current rate”.

  • Instruction of your employees 

Inform and instruct all your employees in sales, procurement and accounting or in a shared service centre about the changes and how to handle them.


In addition to the change of the VAT rates, the revised VAT law will also enter into force on 01/01/2018. The following changes may be relevant for you:

  • Extension of the obligation to VAT register for foreign enterprises

Foreign enterprises performing supplies in Switzerland such as e.g. work on goods or installation services will be required to VAT register regardless of their Swiss turnover. Check they have done so to prevent future demands to pay VAT on the supplies already paid.

  • Voluntary taxation of supplies (option)

As under the current law, you can opt to voluntarily pay VAT on VAT exempt supplies. The new law allows you to either do this by showing the VAT on the invoice (as under the current law) or alternatively to simply declare the turnover as taxable in your VAT return without showing it on the invoice.

  • Electronic newspapers, magazines and books

Electronic media will be subject to the reduced VAT rate of 2.5%. This may be of relevance for you if you buy this media from abroad, as your reverse charge VAT will be 2.5% instead of currently 8%.

  • Further changes

Further changes are in the area of public bodies, the extension of VAT exemption in the field of insurance, the comeback of margin taxation for antiques and some formal aspects. The extension of the obligation to VAT register for online goods traders has been postponed to 01/01/2019.


Bildquelle: Katharina Wieland Müller  /

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