Reduction in the reception fee for radio and television

Biel/Bienne, 29.04.2015 - As of 1 May 2015, the radio and television reception fee will no longer be subject to value-added tax (VAT). It will decrease from CHF 462 to 451. This is the consequence of a ruling published today by the Federal Supreme Court. At present, the radio/TV reception fee is subject to VAT at a rate of 2.5%. The other possible consequences of this decision will be the subject of a detailed analysis by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) and the Federal Tax Administration (FTA).

From May 2015, the cost of the radio and television reception fee will reduce from CHF 462 to CHF 451 per year for households. For businesses too, the bill will be reduced by 2.5% (see box below). OFCOM and Billag will therefore be passing on with immediate effect the decision contained in the ruling delivered on 13 April by the Federal Supreme Court. The Court has decided to change the current practice by no longer equating the reception fee with a charge due to the confederation, on which VAT is chargeable.

OFCOM and the FTA now will analyse in detail the consequences of the decision reached by the Federal Supreme Court.

The popular vote on 14 June 2015 in the referendum concerning the revision of the Radio and Television Act is not affected by this judgement. This revision envisages an additional reduction in the amount of the radio and television reception fee to approximately CHF 400 and an exemption for businesses with a turnover less than CHF 500,000. It also envisages an amendment to the VAT legislation stipulating that VAT is charged on the radio/television reception fee. If it is accepted by the people, the new system will apply from 2018 or 2019 onwards.

Amount of the fee as of May 2015 up to the entry into force of a new system

Type of reception: CHF/year (previous rate)

- Private Radio and television reception (households): 451.10 (462.40)
- Radio and television reception on professional or commercial basis I: 597.50 (612.40)
- Radio and television reception on professional or commercial basis II: 995.40 (1020.30)
- Radio and television reception on professional or commercial basis III: 1374.20 (1408.60)

Change of practice by the Federal Supreme Court

In its judgement of 13 April 2015, the Federal Supreme Court adopted a change in the interpretation which has applied until this time. Previously, the radio and television reception fee has been regarded as a charge due to the confederation. The Federal Supreme Court has now come to the conclusion that the reception fee is not a quid pro quo for a service provided by the Confederation but a sovereign levied charge. Consequently the criterion for subjecting it to value-added tax no longer applies.

The Federal Supreme Court came to this conclusion on the basis of the evolution of the nature of radio and television. In former times the post and telegraph were the responsibility of the federal administration and the operation of radio and television receivers was subject to a licensing obligation. The counter value of the fee was the entitlement to receive broadcasts using a radio or a television set. The Federal Supreme Court now finds, since the right to reception is in any event open to all according to the constitution and the law, that this cannot be a "charge due to the confederation" granted to recipients by the Confederation. Hence the reception fee is no longer subject to value-added tax.


Address for enquiries

Federal Office of Communication OFCOM
Press service, +41 58 460 55 50, media@bakom.admin.ch


Publisher

Federal Office of Communications
http://www.ofcom.admin.ch

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