Taxes

Income from dog tax has risen by more than a half in a decade

ANALYSIS
| By Leo Hug |
Source: iStock.com / Capuski

The tax man has a discovered a new revenue stream: dog owners. Within one decade, income from dog tax has risen by more than a half to over 50 million francs. This is revealed by a Comparis analysis. In Uster, dog tax is now almost three times the amount charged in Bellinzona. Also alarmingly high is the tax payable for a second dog in Basel.

The online comparison service comparis.ch compared the dog taxes in the cantonal capitals and largest Swiss cities and uncovered enormous differences. The lowest dog tax is in Bellinzona, where you will be charged 70 francs, while Uster tops the rankings with a levy of 200 francs. But the tax is relatively high in Winterthur, Zurich and Glarus as well.

“Some municipalities are clearly attempting to control the canine population by means of a progressive dog tax. A second dog is frequently taxed at double the rate,” observes Comparis governmental fees expert Leo Hug. The most extreme example is Basel: the city charges a whopping 320 francs for a second dog.

Marked increase in tax revenues

The amount dog owners must spend on dog tax has risen sharply in recent years. In 2017, cantons and municipalities generated 50.5 million francs through the dog tax. Ten years previously, it was only 33.2 million francs. This represents an increase of 52%. This can’t be explained by the number of dogs, because the dog population only rose by 12% to 551,000 dogs during the same period.

Municipalities can charge dog tax within the scope of cantonal guidelines. Some of the tax goes towards the cost of dealing with dog waste, which has been disposed of separately for twenty years. However, it can also be used for other purposes that have nothing to do with dogs. The municipalities must pass on a portion of their dog tax revenues to the cantons. In 2017, the cantons claimed 10.1 million francs – or 20% – of dog tax for themselves. More up-to-date data is not available.

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Assistance dogs usually tax-exempt

Not all dogs are subject to a tax. Avalanche and disaster rescue dogs along with assistance and service dogs are normally exempt. Many municipalities allow a discount for guard dogs on farms. Lucerne, for example, also applies a reduced rate for dogs used to protect homes in remote locations.