Political parties are non-profit organizations

Political activities endanger the tax exemption

Are the requirements for the tax exemption of legal persons due to non-profit status in the case of political activity complied with? The Zurich FDP Councilor of States, Ruedi Noser, calls for this to be checked with his motion submitted on September 24, 2020 (compare the whole of the NZZ article "Aid agencies and environmental associations are increasingly making politics - they risk losing their tax privilege", from September 26, 2020) .

Non-profit organizations are becoming more politically active, not only in referendums such as the hunting law, but also in popular initiatives. It is still the exception, but non-profit foundations also sometimes submit political initiatives. And then when they discover systemic gaps in their social work. However, numerous foundations are not politically active themselves, but support advocacy groups.

The question now arises as to whether the increasing political commitment is still compatible with the tax privilege. According to the law, legal persons in Switzerland who pursue “public or charitable purposes” as well as “cultural purposes” are exempt from tax liability. With regard to political activity, circular No. 12 of the FTA states that a political party primarily does not pursue any public purposes within the meaning of this law, but primarily represents the interests of its members, which is why a party cannot be exempt from taxes.

However, the more organizations become politically active, the more likely it is to be argued that, analogous to the parties, they try to enforce their own specific values ​​or those of their members. This means that they run the risk of losing their tax privilege, as the statement made by the finance department of the Canton of Zurich to the NZZ shows: The tax office sees the launch of a popular initiative as a political activity. You go beyond the charitable purpose and thus question the tax exemption. But that does not mean that all political activities are problematic. In addition to the Zurich tax office, the FTA also points this out. The decisive factor in each individual case is the weighting of the political commitment compared to the other activities.

Various associations are already vehemently resisting the advance. SwissFoundations will take up and represent the interests of the Swiss development foundations in this context.