The Swiss Confederation imposes levies on substances and materials that are harmful to the environment. The funds raised by these environmental levies are returned to the population via the health insurers.
Since 2008 the Confederation has levied a carbon levy on fossil fuels such as heating oil and natural gas. The carbon levy is not a new tax, but rather an incentive aimed at reducing the amount of fossil fuels used. The revenue does not remain in the treasury: after deducting financial contributions for building programmes and technology funds, the funds are returned to the population and the economy.
The other part of the environmental levy is based upon the VOC levy. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are used, for example, in paints and varnishes or to clean metals. They contribute towards high ozone levels in summer.
Distribution by health insurers
The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment is responsible for distributing the environmental levies via health insurers. From the national government's point of view, this is the simplest method: health insurance policies reach all Swiss residents because basic insurance is mandatory for everyone.
The amount refunded from environmental levies is not fixed. It is a few dozen francs per person per year and is indicated in the policy. The amount is also stated in our annual compilation "Changes to your insurance on 1 January". The amount is automatically deducted from your insurance premium, distributed across the number of premium statements that you receive each year.