Swipoints: when are they subject to social security contributions and income tax?
A. What are Swipoints?
Swipoints are digital vouchers in the form of points, to be redeemed exclusively on the Swibeco platform, in accordance with article 2.9 of our General Terms and Conditions.
B. Are they gifts?
When an employer offers Swipoints to its employees, they are considered gifts in kind, provided that the Swipoints are offered for a “usual gift event”. A “usual gift event” can be defined as an event where it is commonly accepted that an employer may offer a gift to employees. Examples include birthday, Christmas, passing a professional exam, wedding, birth, etc (none exhaustive list).
C. Applicable legal framework
At this point, the question arises as to whether these gifts are subject to (1) social security (employer and employee) and (2) income tax (employee).
1) Social security: according to the “Directive on the determining salary in the AHV, IV and EO” of the Federal Social Insurance Office (hereinafter the “Directive”) in points 2156, 2157 and 2158 the situation is regulated as follows:
a. Recurring events (2158): the employer may offer gifts in kind up to a total amount of CHF 500.- per employee and per year. These are recurring events such as birthdays or Christmas. The employer can therefore cumulate several events, but for a maximum cumulated amount of CHF 500.- per employee and per year.
b. Non-recurring events (2156 and 2157): in addition to the above-mentioned gifts, the employer may offer gifts for non-recurring events such as engagements, weddings, births or the passing of professional exams up to a maximum of CHF 500.- per employee and per event.
2) Income tax: The situation regarding income tax is regulated by the “Guide to the preparation of the salary certificate and the pension certificate” of the Federal Tax Administration (hereinafter “the Guide”). Section III, article 72, 3rd indent, states that the following benefits do not have to be declared on the salary certificate: “Christmas, birthday or other customary gifts with a value of up to CHF 500.- per event. If the value of the gift is higher than this amount, declare its total value”.
In summary, since the rules of the Directive are more restrictive than those of the Guide, we recommend that you comply with what is explained in point 1 above. Furthermore, it goes without saying that if the employer offers Swipoints for events other than those mentioned above, these amounts will have to be submitted to social insurance and added to the salary certificate.
For any further questions, the employer should contact his fiduciary or tax expert. Swibeco is not responsible for the declaration (or non-declaration) of Swipoints to the social insurances or on the salary certificate of the employees.