Withholding tax calculations: Publication of important clarifications by Swissdec

The Swissdec organisation has published an updated “Addendum to Guidelines Wage Standard-CH (ELM) Version 5.0” (available in German, French or Italian) on its website as of 30.6.2022. The calculation examples for the monthly and annual model (Anhang 1 Beispiele QST-Berechnung 20200220_20201202) have also been supplemented.

In addition to answers to more technical questions regarding the handling in the payroll accounting software, the addendum contains withholding tax calculation questions such as:

  • How do several periods of employment in the same year flow into the withholding tax calculation?
  • How is a multiple change of canton in the same year taken into account in the withholding tax calculation in the annual model?
  • How are the withholding taxes to be calculated in the case of subsequent payments after leaving if a change of canton has taken place at the same time?
  • How is the calculation carried out in the case of the exclusion of foreign working days?
  • What is the procedure for unpaid leave?


The calculation of additional payments after withdrawal is unclearly formulated in the circular letter no. 45 of the Federal tax administration. Therefore, this clarification is appreciated very much. In the case of a bonus due after termination (because the amount of the bonus could only be determined after departure), the employer only has to take into account the periodic benefits of the month of departure in the monthly model or the year of departure in the annual model as an alternative to the bonus.

If a change of canton takes place at the same time between leaving and the due date of the bonus, two options are accepted.

  • The employer also refers to the periodic benefits of the leaving month or leaving year of the other canton for the determination of the rate.
  • The employer does not take into account any other income for the determination of the rate.


Everyone is talking about teleworking, which is why, depending on the situation and the employee’s country of residence, foreign working days may be excluded from the withholding tax calculations (reduction of the withholding tax base). It is explained how the exclusion of working days must be carried out for the 13th month’s salary (current year) and benefits for a previous period (e.g. bonus from the previous year).

It can be assumed that the “FAQ 2021 circular no. 45 FTA” will also be updated in the near future.

These clarifications will be dealt with in our seminar “Fundamentals of withholding taxes in Swiss payroll” on 10.1.2023 and 12.1.2023 from 14.30 to 18:00 Swiss time each: https://www.zulaufgmbh.ch/en/course/fundamentals-of-withholding-taxes-in-swiss-payroll/

For interested parties with in-depth knowledge of withholding tax, important clarifications will be covered, along with other topics in the area of social insurance and other legal areas relevant to HR and payroll, in the seminar “Actualities for employers in Switzerland at the turn of the year 2022/2023” on 9.1.2023 from 17.00 to 18.30 p.m. Swiss time: https://www.zulaufgmbh.ch/en/course/fundamentals-of-withholding-taxes-in-swiss-payroll/

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