Saving on taxes when you’re self-employed 


People who are self-employed have a lot to keep track of – especially when it comes to managing their accounts. Our tax-saving tips show you some easy ways to save money. 

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Pay into pillar 3a and save on taxes

You’ve maybe already heard that you can save on taxes when you pay into a pillar 3a account. In practical terms, this means you can deduct the money you pay into your pillar 3a account from your taxable income when you file your taxes. So you benefit twice over: by reducing your tax bill and boosting your retirement savings.

The maximum amount for employees with a pension fund is currently CHF 7056 (2024). Self-employed persons without a pension fund (pillar 2) can pay in up to 20% of their net earned income up to a maximum of CHF 35280 into pillar 3a and deduct this from their taxes.

Unlike paid employees, self-employed persons are solely responsible for providing for their retirement. But to compensate for this, as a self-employed person you can deduct more of your earnings from your taxes.

We’ll show you how it works. With no paperwork required and no need to visit a branch.


Calculate how much you can save in taxes with a pillar 3a account



Pillar 3a is a great way for self-employed persons to save on taxes. Even if you’re not in a position to max out your contribution, every little you pay into pillar 3a counts. Take a look at our tax calculator. 


The amount of taxes you can save depends also on your marital status, place of residence, taxable income and denomination. 


Calculate your tax savings potential using the Zürcher Kantonalbank tax calculator.



Zürcher Kantonalbank tax calculator

Joining a collective foundation (pillar 2)

Unlike paid employees, self-employed persons are not required to join an occupational pension scheme. To ensure you build up sufficient retirement savings, however, it can make sense to explore your options – and maybe join a scheme independently. In this case as well, the amounts you pay into the voluntary occupational pension scheme are exempt from tax. You can deduct them from your income on your tax return and save on taxes. Remember, when you pay money into an occupational pension scheme, the amount you can pay into your pillar 3a is limited to the maximum amount for employees affiliated to a pension fund.



So as a self-employed person you can make voluntary contributions to an occupational pension scheme:


  • Your professional organisation has a collective foundation that insures you and can you can pay into.
  • If you have employees, you can join a collective foundation together with them.
  • You can insure the mandatory BVG component with the Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG.


Tip: Independent brokers are specialised in putting together the best pension solution for you as a self-employed person. This applies both to BVG collective foundations as well as to suitable private insurance schemes such as collective daily benefit insurances. You can rely on Zürcher Kantonalbank to advise you on all issues affecting you as a self-employed person – something that is well worth your while in matters as complex as this.

Deduct your home office from your taxes


A lot of people who are self-employed don’t have their own office but instead work from home. For example, if you’ve set up a room in your apartment as an office, you can deduct this room from your taxes. To qualify, you must conduct a significant portion of your work from this room. The tax office of your canton of residence will tell you how to calculate the deductions for your home office. If you operate your own workshop or store for your business, you can deduct the costs of these premises from your taxes instead.

Incidental costs and money you spend on your laptop, etc. are also tax deductible. This applies equally to your tools, devices and equipment – and also to their maintenance costs.


Offsetting training costs

There are lots of options for further education as well when you’re self-employed. Courses, books and other learning materials are often really expensive. As a self-employed person, you can deduct the associated costs from your taxes. Magazine subscriptions and specialist literature you need for your work are also tax deductible.

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