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Tax shield geneva : How does it work?

Geneva tax shield

Introduced in January 2011, taxpayers in Geneva can benefit from the tax shield. But what exactly is it? The tax shield is a protection mechanism against a tax that can be qualified as confiscatory.

Some taxpayers with low incomes compared to their fortunes can use this mechanism to avoid touching their wealth to pay their taxes.

The principle of the tax shield is simple: it sets a ceiling on the amount of tax you have to pay. So even if you own a business or are a wealthy individual, you'll be protected against excessive taxation.

Table of contents

Who can benefit from the Genevan tax shield?

The tax shield in Geneva is a tax measure designed to reduce income tax for certain residents of the canton.

The tax shield applies exclusively to individuals domiciled or residing in the canton of Geneva.

This means that only residents can benefit from this measure; working there or holding part of one's wealth there does not qualify for the tax shield.

It is important to note that the tax shield only applies to income and wealth tax, but does not concern other types of tax such as:

  • personal tax

  • additional property tax

  • direct federal tax

  • withholding tax

  • supplementary withholding tax

  • foreign withholding tax

Taxpayers still have to meet these other tax obligations.

Taxpayers not eligible for the tax shield

People in one of the following situations are not eligible for the tax shield:

  • people taxed according to expenditure

  • persons domiciled abroad

  • ex officio taxpayers

Application of the Geneva tax shield mechanism

in Geneva, taxpayers residing in the canton cannot pay more than 60% of their net taxable income in wealth and income taxes, including cantonal and communal additional centimes.

However, to make this calculation, the net return on assets must represent at least 1% of net assets.

The elements considered as net return on assets in this context are the following:

  • Income from movable and immovable assets is deducted from the expenses mentioned in article 34 LIPP, such as interest on debts, bank charges and property expenses.

  • Taxable business assets, deducting the interest rate equivalent to that used to calculate AHV income from self-employment.

When a couple lives together, the maximum amount of tax they have to pay is calculated by taking into account all their assets and income.

Taxes used to calculate the 60% limit

The taxes taken into consideration must not exceed 60% of net taxable income:

  • cantonal and municipal income tax

  • cantonal and communal wealth tax

Not taken into consideration:

  • personal tax

  • additional property tax

  • direct federal tax

  • withholding tax

  • supplementary withholding tax

  • foreign withholding tax

If the Geneva tax shield is implemented, this means that wealth tax will be reduced, including cantonal and communal additional centimes.

Theoretical return of 1% on assets

In principle, the amount of tax is capped at 60% of the taxpayer's taxable income.

However, if the actual net asset return is less than 1% of the net asset value, it is replaced by a theoretical minimum asset return.

In this situation, there is a difference between taxable income and the income used to calculate the Geneva tax shield. If necessary, it is also necessary to recalculate the deduction for donations in order to determine the shield income, with the aim of guaranteeing equal treatment with taxpayers whose effective net return on their wealth reaches 1% of their net wealth.

Please note that the theoretical minimum return on assets of 1% is a net return. Thus, it is not possible to deduct from the 1% the costs of acquiring wealth income, such as bank or real estate fees.

Conclusion on the tax shield in Geneva

Geneva's tax shield is an essential tool for protecting taxpayers from excessive tax burdens. Thanks to its implementation, it enables Geneva residents to limit their taxes. But to qualify, the confiscatory tax burden must be sustainable, i.e. it must not occur on an exceptional basis.

The application of Geneva's tax shield is based on very specific criteria, such as the amount of the taxpayer's wealth or income. The tax shield can also be applied following an inheritance.

If you'd like to discuss your situation, our experts are at your disposal.

FAQ - Tax shield Geneva

The Geneva tax shield mainly benefits taxpayers resident in Geneva whose combined wealth and income tax exceeds 60% of net taxable income.

If the tax shield applies, the taxpayer's tax liability will be capped at 60% of net taxable income.

Yes, Geneva's tax shield is legal, and its application has been confirmed by rulings handed down by the Swiss Federal Court. What's more, the measure complies fully with the Swiss constitution.

The tax shield enables Geneva taxpayers to reduce/limit their tax burden.