Income tax is levied at all three levels - federal, cantonal and municipal. While the federal tax stays the same, there are signifiant differences in the income tax and wealth tax burden among cantons as well as among municipalities within a given canton. These differences are due to the considerable financial autonomy of the cantons and municipalities.
Wealth tax is levied by all cantons and municipalities, if it exceeds a certain threshhold.
Church tax is levied by the parishes of the Roman Catholic, Christ Catholic and Protestant churches on their members in almost all the cantons. The church tax burden varies by canton, but it stays the same for all the municipalities within a canton.
The Confederation levies neither a wealth tax, nor a church tax.
In most cantons, the cantonal tax makes the largest part of the tax burden. The municipal taxes on income and on net wealth are in most cases levied as a percentage or multiple of the basic cantonal tax rate scale.
Most of the cantonal and municipal taxes are levied at progressive rates - the higher the income, the larger the percentage paid in taxes.
For individuals, the tax year corresponds to the calendar year (01.01. - 31.12.). The income tax is generally assessed annually based on the actual income earned during the tax year. The wealth tax is assessed based on the net wealth at the end of the tax year (31.12.).
The tax base for the income tax is the net income, that is, gross income reduced by the taxpayer's expenses incurred in deriving the income and other deductions.
The tax base for the wealth tax is net wealth, that is, gross wealth reduced by the taxpayer’s debts.
Capital gains of individuals are tax-free in Switzerland, except for capital gains from Swiss real estate, which are taxable and subject to either property gains tax or income tax, depending on the canton.
Capital gains derived in a context of business activities are always taxable.