How to Deduct Your Phone Subscription as a Self-Employed Professional in Switzerland

Navigating the Fine Line Between Personal and Professional Phone Expenses


As an independent freelancer or entrepreneur managing your operations in Switzerland, grappling with the intricate landscape of business expenditures presents its challenges.
A recurring inquiry often revolves around the eligibility of deducting phone subscriptions as valid business expenses.
In this extensive manual, we'll explore the prerequisites, factors to weigh, and optimal strategies for deducting phone expenditures when you're self-employed in Switzerland.
Armed with this knowledge, you'll be empowered to navigate your phone arrangements judiciously and efficiently oversee your business finances while adhering to Swiss tax regulations.

Purchasing a Phone for Business Purposes

The first step in being able to deduct your phone subscription is ensuring that the phone belongs to your business. There are a few ways to establish business ownership of your phone:

  1. Purchase the phone online or in a store under your business name. This clearly demonstrates that the phone is a business asset.
  2. Provide a certificate transferring ownership of your private phone to the business. If you already own a phone that you want to use for work, officially transferring its ownership to your company can make it eligible for expense deductions.

It's crucial to remember the distinction between personal and professional use, as discussed in the article "All Deductions for the Self-Employed". To qualify as a business expense, the phone must contribute to producing something for your business, such as enabling clients to reach you or facilitating business communications. Keep in mind that the Swiss tax authorities may scrutinize the nature of your phone usage to ensure it aligns with your claimed deductions.

Determining Your Phone Needs

Before rushing to purchase a new phone or subscribing to a plan, take a step back and assess your actual business needs. Consider whether you truly require two separate phones - one for personal use and one for business. Factors to weigh include:

  • Does your work require you to be reachable during specific business hours? If you need to maintain strict availability for clients or colleagues, a dedicated work phone might be beneficial.
  • Are most of your orders or inquiries placed online? If the majority of your business interactions happen through digital channels, the need for a separate work phone may be minimized.

In some cases, modern smartphones with dual SIM capability can offer a convenient solution, allowing you to have two numbers (personal and business) on a single device. Carefully evaluate your business requirements and communication patterns to determine the optimal phone setup for your self-employed venture.

Phone as a Business Investment

When considering the purchase of a phone for your business, it's important to assess whether it qualifies as a depreciable business asset. High-end smartphones can easily cost over 1000 CHF, and if your phone is an essential tool for your work, such as for a content creator or photographer, it may be eligible for depreciation.

To qualify as a depreciable asset, the phone's cost must exceed a certain threshold set by Swiss tax authorities, and it must be integral to your business operations. This concept is similar to a carpenter purchasing a saw table or a graphic designer investing in a high-performance computer. By depreciating the phone over time, you can spread out its cost and increase your company's value on paper.

Depreciation allows you to allocate the expense of the phone across multiple years. For example, if you purchase a phone for 2000 CHF and choose to depreciate it over 4 years, you would record a 500 CHF expense each year for 4 years. This approach can be advantageous for managing your business's cash flow and tax liabilities.

On the other hand, if the phone's cost falls below the depreciation threshold, it is simply recorded as a material purchase and business expense in the year it was acquired. It's essential to consult with a Swiss tax professional or accountant to determine the appropriate depreciation rules and thresholds for your specific business situation.

Splitting Phone Costs Between Business and Personal Use

In many cases, self-employed individuals in Switzerland use a single phone for both work and personal matters. If this applies to you, your company can still pay the entire phone bill. However, to maintain accurate and compliant books, it's advisable to properly allocate the expenses based on actual usage.

Here's an example to illustrate how you might allocate phone costs between business and personal use:

Suppose you use your phone 60% for work-related activities and 40% for personal matters. Let's say you purchased the phone for 150 CHF and have an annual subscription plan that costs 480 CHF in 2024.

Total costs: 150 (phone purchase) + 480 (annual subscription) = 630 CHF
Business portion: 60% x 630 = 378 CHF
Personal portion: 40% x 630 = 252 CHF

In this scenario, your company would pay the full 630 CHF for the phone and subscription. However, to accurately reflect the personal usage, your salary would be reduced by the personal portion of 252 CHF over the course of the year. This ensures that your business expenses are correctly reported and that you're not claiming personal expenses as business deductions.

It's important to note that the Swiss tax authorities may request documentation to support your claimed business phone expenses. Maintaining clear records of your phone usage, such as call logs or app usage breakdowns, can help substantiate your expense allocations if questioned.

Choosing the Right Subscription Plan

When selecting a phone subscription plan for your business, it's crucial to tailor it to your specific professional requirements. Consider factors such as:

  • International travel: If you frequently travel abroad for work, look for plans that offer cost-effective international roaming or include global coverage.
  • Network coverage: Depending on your business location and mobility needs, you may require a provider with extensive and reliable network coverage.
  • Data allowances: Assess your business's data consumption, including email, file transfers, and cloud service usage, to choose a plan with adequate data allowances.

Take the time to research and compare plans from various providers to find one that aligns with your professional phone usage patterns and overall business activity. Keep in mind that your phone subscription directly impacts your bottom line, so making an informed decision is essential for managing your business expenses effectively.

Deducting Costs for Business Travel Abroad

If your self-employed work takes you abroad, you may incur additional phone expenses while using foreign telecom networks. In most cases, these extra charges can be deducted as legitimate business expenses.

When you use your phone internationally for work purposes, any roaming fees, additional data charges, or other usage-based costs that appear on your monthly bill can typically be claimed as business expenses. However, it's important to maintain clear records and documentation of your international phone usage, including the specific dates, duration, and purpose of your business trips.

If you frequently travel internationally for work, consider subscribing to a plan that offers cost-effective global coverage or purchasing an international roaming package tailored to your business needs. This can help minimize unexpected expenses and simplify the expense tracking process.

Deducting App Purchases and Subscriptions

In today's digital age, mobile apps and software subscriptions have become essential tools for many self-employed professionals. The deductibility of app purchases and subscriptions depends on their relevance and contribution to your business operations.

If an app or software directly contributes to your business activities, such as a project management tool, design software, or industry-specific application, the associated costs can typically be deducted as business expenses. For example, if you're a healthcare professional and use a medical reference app or a secure communication platform to interact with patients, the costs of those apps would likely qualify as deductible expenses.

However, it's important to distinguish between apps that are essential for your work and those that are primarily for personal or entertainment purposes. Purchasing tokens for mobile games or subscribing to streaming services for personal enjoyment would not qualify as business expenses, even if occasionally used during work breaks.

To claim app purchases and subscriptions as business expenses, keep detailed records of the apps, their costs, and how they relate to your professional activities. This documentation will be crucial in case of a tax audit or if the Swiss tax authorities request justification for your claimed deductions.


As a self-employed individual in Switzerland, deducting your phone expenses requires careful consideration and adherence to tax guidelines. To be eligible for deduction, the phone and subscription plan must be under your company's name, and costs should be reasonably allocated between business and personal use.

By understanding the criteria for purchasing a business phone, assessing your professional needs, choosing the right subscription plan, and properly tracking and documenting your expenses, you can optimize your phone setup and confidently claim appropriate deductions.

Remember, the Swiss tax authorities provide these guidelines as a framework for applying common sense and maintaining accurate records in managing your business. The ultimate goal is to ensure the smooth operation of your self-employed venture while staying compliant with tax laws.

If you have any doubts or complex situations regarding phone expense deductions, it's always advisable to consult with a qualified Swiss tax professional or accountant. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific business circumstances and help you navigate the intricacies of Swiss tax regulations.