Liability for the new fee
From 1 January 2019, a new device-independent radio and TV fee will be collected from Swiss households and Swiss domiciled companies registered for VAT. It replaces the previous fee, which depended on the number of devices in use and was abolished at the end of 2018.
The following businesses are subject to the new fee:
- registered office, domicile or permanent establishment in Switzerland
- entered in the Swiss VAT register and
- have a total annual turnover exceeding CHF 500,000 (excl. VAT)
Foreign companies with only a Swiss VAT registration (i.e. without domicile or permanent establishment in Switzerland) are not subject to the new fee.
Since the fee is linked to the declared turnover, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) was nominated as the collecting agency.
The total turnover declared under code 200 of the VAT return (less reductions of consideration) is decisive, i.e. the worldwide turnover regardless of the VAT treatment (i.e. a company declaring only zero-rated turnover from exports or supplies abroad and no Swiss turnover is subject to the new fee as well).
If companies are registered for VAT as a VAT group, the new radio and TV licence fee is calculated based on the declared (consolidated) group turnover, i.e. without group internal charges since they are not subject to Swiss VAT.
It might be beneficial for clients to form a VAT group to optimize the fee. Not every single entity /member of the Swiss VAT group receives an invoice based on its turnover but only one invoice is received (maximum fee for the VAT group amounts to CHF 49,925).
Companies under a single management can form one corporate fee group. A corporate fee group consists of at least 30 companies and is liable to pay the fee instead of its members. The total turnover of the individual group members is added together to assess fee liability and determine which tariff category is applicable. The VAT regulations for group taxation apply for joint liability, formation, changes in holdings, dissolution and representation. However, the group is valid only for the corporate fee liability (and not for VAT).
The assessment of the licence fee is normally based on the previous year's total turnover. During the first year of collection (e.g. FY 2019), assessments will be based on the total turnover declared in 2017 (e.g. summarized turnover declared in box 200 for Q1 – Q5/2017). For FY 2020 turnover declared in FY 2019 is decisive and so on. A full list of all tariff categories can be found here.
It is generally not possible to apply for a reduction of the fee, e.g. in cases where based on the prior year’s turnover the company finds itself in a higher tariff category than it would be in compared to the current year’s turnover.
There are, however, some exceptions:
- In case of turnover adjustments that result in a different tariff level an application for amendment of the fee is possible.
- Companies with a small profit that fall within the first category (turnover up to CHF 749,999) can claim a refund of the fee, although the fee still has to be paid first.
In the first year of Swiss VAT registration, no fee will be assessed (since no turnover of a previous year is available). However, if a company de-registers from Swiss VAT it is still liable for payment of the fee for the whole year based on the previous year’s turnover.
Companies will automatically receive an annual bill from the Federal Tax Administration. Payment is due within 60 days after the invoice was issued. In case of late payment, interest will be assessed.
More information can be found here.