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May 22, 2007

No tax break for hearing impairment

The Zürich Canton of Switzerland has long offered a special tax break for people with hearing disabilities. The Zürich Canton tax authorities want to change the law and repeal the tax deduction. Pro audito Schweiz, the Swiss association for hearing impaired people, wants hearing impaired taxpayers to rebel by ignoring the new rules.

Increasing numbers of the MP3 generation will suffer hearing loss. But unlike their parents, the new generation will no longer be eligible for a tax break for hearing impairment in the Zürich Canton. The local tax authorities want to extend this tax deduction only to people who are deaf.

Thomas Schmiedhauer of Pro audito Schweiz believes that the tax change amounts to discrimination against those with hearing impairment.

His recommendation is that hearing impaired taxpayers in Zürich continue to declare the deduction on their tax returns.

Schmiedhauer is concerned that the change in tax law is dictated by the projections of future increases in the numbers of people with hearing loss and an increase in the numbers of people needing hearing aids.

”I think the tax authorities are worried about the increased cost associated with hearing loss in the MP3 generation,” he said.

More people with hearing loss

The 26 cantons making up Switzerland have each its own tax rules. The advantage is a competition among cantons to keep down tax levels. But it means that the deductions for people with hearing impairment vary from one canton to the next.

Hearing loss is becoming increasingly prevalent in Switzerland. An estimated 800,000 people in Switzerland currently suffer from hearing loss. Of these, just one in five wears hearing aids. In the Zürich canton 45,000 use hearing aids.

Source: Pro audito Schweiz and 20 Minuten, 2 February 2007

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