Gift and inheritance taxes in Basel and the region compared to Schwyz, Bern and Zurich.

Inheritance and gift taxes, which are only levied by the cantons but not by the federal government, vary greatly from canton to canton. We have compiled the most important facts for you and summarised them in clear tables.

Inheritance and gift taxes. Both types of tax are levied only by the individual cantons and not by the federal government.
In most cantons, taxes on gifts and inheritances are set at the same level. However, a tax is levied during the lifetime of the donor, and an inheritance tax is levied when the inheritance occurs, i.e. at the Decease of the testator. The tax is always due in the canton in which the donor is resident or in which the deceased was last resident. Where the donee or heirs live is irrelevant for the tax liability. Exceptions are real estate or immovable assets. In such cases, the tax due is levied in the canton in which the respective property is located.

But here again there are 26 different variants. Even between the two half-cantons BS and BL there are significant differences. While in the canton of Basel-Landschaft a gift to parents is tax-free, in the canton of Basel-Stadt, after deduction of the one-time tax-free amount of CHF 10,000, a tax of up to 11% is due, depending on the amount of the gift.

Particular caution is required in the case of lifetime gifts or inheritances between Life partner/cohabiting partners offered. A tax is due here in most cantons. Some cantons, such as AG or SO, do not have an exemption amount, other cantons are somewhat more generous, for example BL with an exemption amount of CHF 30,000. Below you will find the rates for the cantons BL, BS, AG, JU, SO, BE, SZ and ZH as well as their special features and the corresponding links to the tax laws.

How your financial planner can help you

Your financial planner is able to draw your attention to various aspects, including gifts or inheritances, in the sense of holistic planning. They will show you possible challenges based on your personal circumstances and can suggest initial solutions. If the scope is expanded, further experts will be consulted at an early stage in order to be able to work out an optimal solution.

Cantonal specifics


Stepchildren and foster children are tax-exempt under certain conditions. The direct descendants according to Law stepchildren and foster children shall be treated in the same way if they have lived in the same household as the donor for at least ten years before reaching the age of twenty-five.


Tax exempt are according to Tax law of the canton BS the foster children.


Stepchildren and, under certain conditions, foster children are also exempt from tax. According to Law the foster care relationship must have existed for at least 2 years.


If the testator or donor is taxed at cost (lump-sum taxation, in this case descendants are taxed at 3.5 %).


There is an additional 8-12 ‰ estate tax per estate. Stepchildren and foster children are not tax exempt.


The canton of Schwyz has always had neither an inheritance tax nor a gift tax. Since 2017, the canton of OW has also no longer levied inheritance or gift tax.


Tax exempt are stepchildren and, under certain conditions, foster children as well, provided that the foster relationship has lasted at least two years.


PeoplePersons who have received a taxable gift are obliged to submit a tax return for gift tax within three months of the execution of the gift without being asked to do so.