Progress in the taxation of employee shareholdings

On 30 October 2020 the Swiss Federal Tax Administration published welcome changes to its circular on the taxation of employee shareholdings. This has created the basis for a uniform tax practice throughout Switzerland in this area. SWESA was involved in the corresponding consultation process and was able to actively represent the interests of the startup community.

With the adjustments, from 1 January 2021 onwards, there is the possibility to realize a fully tax-free capital gain throughout Switzerland by purchasing employee shares and selling them to an independent third party after a holding period of five years

In addition, the FTA has clarified that shares acquired (a) upon incorporation or (b) under the same conditions as those acquired from independent investors (e.g., during a financing round) are not treated as employee shares for tax purposes. 

However, due to the discretion of the cantonal tax authorities in the application and interpretation of the circular, there are still some uncertainties as to how this change will be implemented in the different cantons. 

Link to circular letter no. 37 (in German)
(Changes in 3.2.2, 3.4.3 and 3.4.4.)

Swiss Entrepreneurs & Startup Association SWESA