Radio and TV fees for companies are illegal according to ruling

The radio and television fees for companies are unconstitutional according to the Federal Administrative Court. The St. Gallen judges ruled that the degressive tariff structure violates the principle of legal equality because small companies are disadvantaged.

For reasons of legal certainty and proportionality, however, the current tariff will remain applicable until the next amendment to the ordinance, as the judges announced on Friday. The contributions for the 2021 corporate tax set out in the contested rulings therefore remain due.

However, the Federal Council is advised by the court to consider a progressive or partially linear structure of the corporate tax in the next review.

Four companies had lodged an appeal against the fees charged by Serafe. For the Federal Administrative Court, the degressive tariff structure means that smaller companies are subject to a higher tax burden than companies with high turnover.

The decision can be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court.

Tariffs already criticized in 2019

According to the Value Added Tax Act, the tax for companies is based on the total worldwide turnover declared to the Federal Tax Administration. Companies with a turnover of up to half a million francs are exempt from the tax.

For the other companies, the Federal Council introduced an 18-tier tariff on January 1, 2021, after the previous tariff was deemed unconstitutional by the Federal Administrative Court in 2019. In addition, under current law, companies can join together and pay only one levy, provided the group consists of at least thirty companies and they are under uniform management.

According to the ruling of the Federal Administrative Court, the formation of tax groups is also unlawful and unconstitutional. Firstly, there is no legal basis for this and secondly, the lower limit of thirty companies is arbitrary and only benefits a small number of companies.

Debate about cutting broadcasting fees

A week ago, the Federal Council and Media Minister Albert Rösti announced a possible reduction in radio and TV fees. The federal government wants to gradually reduce media fees from CHF 365 to CHF 300 per year by 2029.

In addition, more than 60,000 companies will no longer be asked to pay from 2027. Companies with an annual turnover of CHF 1.2 billion or more will now only be subject to the levy. This would exempt around eighty percent of companies from the levy.

The Federal Council's proposal is a counter to the popular initiative "200 francs is enough! (SRG initiative or halving initiative)", which it recommends be rejected. In its petition for a referendum, the initiative committee calls for a reduction in radio and TV fees to CHF 200 per household per year. Current Media Minister Rösti was also a member of the committee at the time of the launch.

The Federal Council's proposal does not take into account the ruling of the Federal Administrative Court, as the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) announced on request. OFCOM now wants to analyze the ruling together with the Federal Tax Administration before determining how to proceed. (SDA)

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