Partial revision of VAT Act agreed

Local contact

Benno Suter

19 Jun 2023
Subject Tax Alert
Categories Indirect Tax

Overview of most important changes  

After detailed discussion of the legislative proposal for the partial revision of the VAT Act in the National and State Councils, differences were resolved in the summer session of 2023 and the new law was passed in the final vote on 16 June 2023. It is currently assumed that the amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2025 - an optional referendum against the amendment to the VAT Act (with temporal effects on its entry into force) is generally possible, but unlikely.

The following overview of the relevant changes is intended to help taxpayers to recognise specific need for clarification and to initiate necessary measures in good time. 

  • Taxation of electronic platforms that enable traders to deliver goods1 to or in Switzerland. The turnover from the sale of goods will be attributed to the platform - with VAT consequences for platforms and traders. However, this is linked to a series of conditions that must be checked separately for each transaction.
  • All electronic platforms, i.e. all electronic interfaces that enable parties to make direct contact online with the aim of providing deliveries or services, will be subject to an obligation to provide information on sellers and buyers.
  • Administrative sanctions will be introduced for mail order businesses that do not comply with their VAT obligations (import ban, uncompensated destruction of goods).
  • Travel agency services (including resold travel services) will be exempt from VAT (option to taxation possible). Travel agencies will be granted a general right to recover input VAT related to the sale of foreign travel. 
  • Streaming services in culture, arts, sport, education, science, and entertainment will be deemed to have their place of supply at the recipient’s end. 
  • VAT exemptions in the healthcare sector will be expanded and clarified in various ways. For example, ambulatories and day clinics will also be covered by the VAT exemption's subjective scope of application, managed care services in connection with medical treatment will be exempt from VAT and the requirements for a VAT exempt supply of staff of non-profit institutions for health care purposes will be eased. 
  • A further VAT exemption will apply to the offering of investments by and the management of investment foundations.
  • The purchase of emission rights will be subject to the acquisition tax even if the seller is based in Switzerland (domestic acquisition tax).
  • Funds granted by public bodies will be considered as subsidies for VAT purposes if they are designated as such.
  • Articles of monthly hygiene will be subject to the reduced VAT rate of 2.6%.
  • On application small businesses may declare their turnover on an annual basis but have to pay VAT instalments in the course of the year.
  • The SFTA may waive the appointment of a fiscal representative for foreign taxpayers.

Some changes will particularly impact specific industries, others will have cross-industry effects. In a first step, each taxpayer will have to individually assess which adjustments will affect his VAT situation.

  • Reference

    1. The discussed extension of the platform taxation to electronic services did not find its way into the law but was transferred into a commission motion.