Completing Your Swiss VAT Return Online: Step-by-Step Guide

VAT & Tax
August 16, 2021


Completing a Swiss VAT return online might seem intimidating, but with our easy-to-follow guide, you'll be able to navigate the process effortlessly. Whether you're a business owner or an accountant, we'll walk you through each step, ensuring accuracy and compliance with Swiss tax laws.

Step 1: Access the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA) Portal:

Log in to the SFTA online portal using your credentials. If you're a first-time user, you'll need to register and obtain the necessary login information from the tax authorities.

Step 2: Select the Appropriate VAT Period:

Choose the correct reporting period for which you're submitting the VAT return. Typically, VAT returns are submitted on a quarterly basis in Switzerland.

Step 3: Prepare your Swiss VAT financials

Collect all the relevant financial data, including sales invoices, purchase invoices, expenses, and other supporting documents. Make sure all transactions are categorized correctly to prevent errors.

Step 4: Fill in your total sales turnover

Fill in your sales turnover for the quarter in section ref. 200. So if you make 100,000 in the quarter, fill 100,000.

Step 5: Fill in your sales that were not subject to Swiss output VAT

So if 15,000 CHF were not subject to Swiss Output VAT because perhaps you billed it out your entity in Austria rather than Switzerland, then you can add this amount in ref. 220.

Step 5: Fill in your Swiss Output VAT

Fill in your sales turnover for the quarter based on your Swiss Output VAT. So if you had 80,000 that where you applied a VAT of 7.7% add 80,000 in ref 302. If the remaining 20,000 was split between 5% and 3.7% for sales outbound Swiss VAT, then add 10,000 in ref 312 for 2.5% Swiss Output VAT and 243 for 3.7% sales output VAT.

Step 6: Fill in your Swiss Input VAT

In this section, you fill the Swiss input VAT amount you paid on invoices received from Swiss vendors. This is VAT that you paid on vendor invoices for services rendered. So if you paid 20,000 CHF that had a Swiss input VAT on it at a VAT rate of 7.7%, you would add 1,540 CHF (20,000 CHF x 7.7%) into the fields. You should split this 1,540 CHF tax amount based on whether the invoices with Swiss VAT were used to generate income directly (i.e Direct cost or Cost of Goods Sold) or whether they were just expenses incurred not directly linked to income generation. So if 5,000 CHF of Swiss VAT invoices were paid to generate income directly then you would enter 385 CHF (5,000 x 7.7%) in ref 400. If the remaining 15,000 CHF was general expenses, then you would enter 1155 CHF (15,000 CHF x 7.7%) in ref 405. Remember that you are adding not the total invoice amount but the tax amount in this field.

Step 7: Add in your Swiss VAT reverse charge

If you received invoices from vendors abroad in different currencies regardless of their jurisdiction, you are meant to apply a Swiss VAT reverse charge of 7.7% on those invoices. Meaning if you receive a total of amount of 10,000 CHF from vendors abroad, you would need to add this to your VAT return in two steps.

Step 7.1 - Swiss VAT Reverse Charge Output

So in the 10,000 CHF example, you would need to add 10,000 in ref 383 in field Supplies CHF and 770 in field Tax CHF to account for the Swiss Reverse Charge output VAT.

Step 7.2 - Swiss VAT Reverse Charge input

You would then add the Swiss Input tax amount of 770 CHF (10,000 CHF x 7.7%) to ref 405 making this now a total of 1,925 CHF adding to the previous amount of 1,155 CHF.

Step 8: Review how much Swiss VAT you'll pay or maybe get back

Once you've filled in all your numbers, you can review how much Swiss VAT you'll have to pay in ref 500. If you will get money back, then you will see an amount in ref 510. In this case, we will have to pay VAT of 3,850.62 CHF since ref 500 is being populated.

Step 9: Submit the Swiss VAT declaration and pay

Once you're happy with your declaration, submit it. You'll receive a PDF document summarising your declaration and most importantly you'll receive payment details to immediately pay the Swiss VAT amount that you owe. Be careful, you need to not only submit your Swiss VAT return on the deadline but also have paid this amount. Meaning the payment needs to go out before the deadline date to avoid any penalties such as interest payment on a late VAT return. If you are to receive a credit, then just lay back and wait for the money to come in.

Additional sections and reference of the VAT return

If you want to learn more about the additional section on the Swiss VAT return, please feel free to reference the below sections otherwise, you're free to go.

Ref 205, 220, 230 - Swiss Output VAT Exempt - What do I fill?

If you're entity is Swiss VAT exempt providing goods and services in Switzerland, then you simply need to add your total sales turnover that fall under this VAT exemption in ref 230.

If you're entity is Swiss VAT exempt providing goods and services in an international manner such as airlines or logistics companies, then you simply need to add your total sales turnover that fall under this VAT exemption in ref 220.

If you're business is opting for the taxation of certain supplies that would otherwise be exempt under Article 21. This means that, even though these supplies are typically exempt from VAT, the business has chosen to apply VAT to them voluntarily. You would add this amount in ref 205.

Ref 900 and 910 - Swiss VAT on subsidies, donations and dividends

If you receive any subsides, donations or dividends, these are Swiss VAT exempt but the authorities still want to know about. Just simply report these in ref 900 or 901 depending on the case.

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