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What are the new Swiss AHV21 reforms passed by Switzerland?

October 7, 2022
3 min read

Why did Switzerland need to reform their AHV known as reform AHV 21? 

In Switzerland, old-age pension provision is divided into three pillars: state, occupational and individual. The AHV is the first, state pillar. Employees pay into the AHV pillar through their salaries which is matched by companies. Employees and companies each pay 5.3% of their gross salary into this pillar. In addition, AHV collects money through VAT. Value added tax (VAT) is a tax that each person pays through daily purchasing activities for example someone buying groceries. 

The reason the vote took place is that AHV is expected to spend more than it takes in. The federal government expects that AHV will be short on funds of approximately 18.5 billion francs over the next ten years therefore the need to reform AHV to supplement for these missing funds. 

How did the vote for AHV 21 pass?

On September 25, 2022, Swiss voters voted on reforming AHV. This reform consisted of two bills.

  • Additional financing of the AHV through an increase in VAT
  • Increasing the women’s age of retirement from 64 to 65

With a voter turnout of 52.5%, the additional financing of the AHV through an increase in VAT passed with a 55% to 45% Yes to No ratio. With the same turnout increasing the women's retirement age passed with a 51% to 49% Yes to No ratio.

The laws are expected to come into force on January 1, 2024 and are intended to help finance the 1st pillar until 2030.

How did the VAT rate change from the AHV 21 reform vote? 

There are three VAT rates that will increase:

  • Everyday VAT on basic goods and services will increase from 7.7 to 8.1 percent. Buying a pair of headphones for 100 francs is 40 rappen more expensive.
  • The reduced VAT for certain products like groceries and medicines will increase from 2.5 to 2.6 percent. A grocery purchase worth 100 francs will be 10 rappen more expensive.
  • The special rate for accommodations will increase from 3.7 to 3.8 percent. An overnight stay in a hotel for 100 francs will be 10 rappen more expensive.

As a result of the increase in VAT, the Swiss government expects that the AHV will earn around CHF 12.4 billion moreover the next ten years. 

How did women’s retirement age change from the AHV 21 vote? 

The retirement age for women increased from 64 to 65. The increase will take place gradually every 3 months per year, with the first increment being planned for 2025. The retirement age of men and women will therefore not be fully aligned until the year 2028.

Women who are about to retire are particularly affected by this transition phase. All women born between 1961 and 1969 are entitled to receive lifelong pension supplements to compensate for this transition phase. The pension supplements vary depending on the year of birth. It is also worth noting that lifelong supplements only apply to women in the transitional generation who do not take their old-age pension early. 

The changes will reduce AHV expenditure by around CHF 4.9 billion over the next ten years. In addition, it is possible for everyone to retire flexibly between the ages of 63 and 70. There is a deduction from the pension for earlier retirement and a surcharge for later retirement.

Are there incentives to work after retirement age from the AHV 21 reforms? 

Anyone who works beyond the retirement age does not pay AHV contributions if they make less than 1,400 Swiss francs. The scenario prior to AHV 21 reforms saw anyone making wages above 1,400 Swiss francs are subject to AHV contributions but do not lead to a higher old-age pension. 

After the AHV 21 reform came into force, the AHV contributions paid after age 65 are also taken into account for the pension calculation. In this way it is possible, on the one hand, to close previous gaps in contributions and, on the other hand, to increase your personal OASI pension with the contributions paid.

Are there discussions to also reform Swiss’ second pillar to supplement the pension system? 

The AHV 21 reform is a first step in the restructuring of the pension schemes - but this only secures financing until 2030. After that, the AHV threatens to run into a deficit again. A reform is also being discussed for the second pillar: BVG 21. It is currently being discussed in Parliament. 

Bassil Eid
Earny CEO

CEO of Earny and long time CFO working with Startups.