Federal finances

Brief summary

The federal budget ended 2022 with a deficit of CHF 4.3 billion. The deficit was attributable to lower receipts and high extraordinary COVID-19 expenditure. For the first time since 2005, the Confederation also ended the year with a higher deficit in the ordinary budget than would be permitted by the economic cycle. This structural deficit amounts to just under CHF 1.6 billion. High structural deficits are likely from 2024. The Federal Council has therefore defined adjustment measures.

Federal financial results, 1990–2022
Figure 1: Federal financial results, 1990–2022

The Confederation’s financing statement ended 2022 with a high deficit, just as in the two previous years. In 2022, this deficit amounted to CHF 4.3 billion. The ordinary and extraordinary budgets are each responsible for roughly half of the deficit. In the ordinary budget, the deficit of around CHF 1.9 billion is the result of lower than expected receipts. Withholding tax receipts, in particular, were well below budget. At this stage of the economic cycle, a deficit of CHF 0.3 billion would have been permissible. Therefore, the bulk of this deficit is structural (-1.6 bn).

Lower than expected withholding tax receipts

Ordinary receipts grew by 1% year on year, but were still CHF 1.8 billion below budget ( 2.3%). The lower receipts were mainly attributable to withholding tax (-3.2 bn).

Meanwhile, the two largest sources of federal government receipts developed positively compared with the previous year: value added tax grew at a similar rate to nominal economic growth (+1.1 bn or +4.8%). Direct federal tax was also significantly higher (+0.9 bn or +3.7%). This was mainly due to profit tax (+0.9 bn or +7.1%), while income tax was virtually stagnant.

Ordinary expenditure closed just under CHF 0.6 billion below budget (-0.7%) and thus grew by 1.6% year-on-year. Larger supplementary credits were incurred in the areas of migration (340 mn), reserve power plants (192 mn), interest on liabilities (135 mn) and regional passenger transportation (97 mn).

The structural deficit is a burden on the so-called equalization account. However, as this account is positive, the sanction rule of the debt brake does not apply, according to which a deficit must be offset by spending cuts in subsequent years.

COVID-19 expenditure remains high

In the extraordinary budget, expenditure of CHF 4.0 billion was incurred last year, on the one hand for COVID-19 measures (3.3 bn), and on the other for people from Ukraine seeking protection (0.7 bn). This was offset by extraordinary receipts of CHF 1.6 billion. These came mainly from the distribution of profits by the SNB from its 2021 financial year (2.0 bn, of which 1.3 bn extraordinary).

Further information

Last modification 26.04.2023