Naturalized men retrospectively pay military tax

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Military service

Thousands of naturalized men retroactively pay military tax: it is now the federal court that will decide if this is allowed

Naturalized Swiss must remit millions of francs to the state as a compulsory levy for military service. Two victims successfully defended themselves against this in cantonal courts. But the Federal Tax Administration did not give up and applied to the federal court.

The military on duty. Those who cannot render service to the fatherland must pay an alternative tax.

Image: Tobias Garcia (Weinfelden, Aug 24, 2018)

6,612 francs for the replacement conscription levy: this is the amount that the Solothurn administration for the replacement of conscription demanded from Kurtis Wheeler. The American, naturalized at 32, successfully defended himself against the heavy bill. The Solothurn tax court concluded in October: this is an inadmissible retroactive effect.

In a similar case in the canton of St. Gallen, a father of three was granted the right, who received a Swiss passport at the age of 25. Until 2016, until the age of 30, he paid five times the compulsory military service allowance. . At that time, compulsory military service ended at the age of 30. A change in the law came into force at the start of 2019. Since then, compulsory service has ended at the age of 37. The man quickly received another invoice for 1,404 francs, which the St. Gallen Administrative Appeals Board ultimately declared null and void. The judgment is final.

On behalf of the Federal Tax Administration (AFC), the cantons collect the compulsory tax on military service. Last year 185 million francs were transferred to the Federal Treasury. 20 percent return to the cantons. Military tax is 3 percent of taxable income.

Federal tax administration emphasizes past practices

The two complaints against the military tax relate to raising the age of compulsory service from 30 to 37 years. The two Swiss neo-Swiss concerned had fulfilled their functions under the old law. In the eyes of the FTA, however, they were rightly asked to pay again. The FTA maintains that compulsory military service is a “lifelong problem”, so it is not a retroactive substitute deduction. The courts of St. Gallen and Solothurn see it diametrically different; for them, the two men finally completed their military service when they reached the age of 30 – and are therefore no longer subject to alternative tax.

However, the Federal Tax Administration insists on past practice. Kurtis Wheeler also can’t be sure of his cause. The tax administration took the verdict to Federal Court. The date on which this decision will be taken is open. If the Lausanne judges confirmed the Solothurn verdict, the household budget would be lightened by many naturalized men, who support the public treasury with millions of francs because of the retroactive effect. In 2019 alone, nearly 2,400 men aged 30 to 37 were naturalized.

The association coordinates the resistance

Not all new Swiss citizens transfer military tax without complaint. Vili Sintonen from the canton of Valais, Swiss-Finnish citizen with dual nationality, founded an association to coordinate resistance to retroactive tax. The 35 members across Switzerland, who have to pay an average of CHF 3,000, have filed a complaint against the compulsory contribution to military service.

Unlike Solothurn and St. Gallen, a Geneva court approved the retroactive military tax in a similar case. The man concerned challenged the verdict in federal court, as Lausanne lawyer David Raedler indicated on request. The cantonal deputy (Green) of the canton of Vaud supports the association founded by Sintonen in an advisory capacity. At the national level, an initiative is pending with which the SP requests the abolition of the retroactive tax.


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