Zurich Finance Director: The Rest of You Are Not Paying Your Fair Share

Zurich Finance Director: The Rest of You Are Not Paying Your Fair Share

Wed, Mar 6th 2024

Ernst Stocker, Zurich’s finance director, addresses the financial strain from undercompensated services, urging for fairer cost distribution among cantons.


Zurich Finance Director, Ernst Stocker of the SVP, voiced concerns on Tuesday about the financial discrepancies faced by Zurich due to insufficient compensation from other cantons.

This situation leaves Zurich with an excess of CHF 100 million in expenses for its provided services. “Zurich’s offerings, including its university, applied sciences university, and public transit, extend benefits across the board, notably to lower-tax regions like Schwyz and Zug,” Stocker articulated. Yet, these services do not meet their operational costs.

Zurich’s internal assessments reveal it bears CHF 104 million in unrecovered expenses, representing 1.5 percent of its tax revenue. This is in addition to the CHF 462 million Zurich already contributes to the National Fiscal Equalization (NFA), marking a conservative estimate.

The finance director critiqued the existing “intercantonal cooperation with burden sharing” (IKZ) for its inadequacies in fairly distributing central cantonal burdens. Zurich is attributed with a “location advantage,” which Stocker argues, is doubly counted due to its inclusion in resource equalization, further inflating Zurich’s NFA contributions.

Stocker affirmed Zurich’s commitment to its central responsibilities but stressed the unsustainable nature of the current financial model. “Zurich is everyone’s dairy cow, but without proper care, it will cease to yield,” he remarked, signalling the need for a revamped burden equalisation that ensures closer-to-actual cost coverage by other cantons for Zurich’s services.

The forthcoming IKZ negotiations present an opportunity for reform, with new guidelines expected to be enacted in 2026 and to remain effective for three years.

Acknowledging the challenge of solitary efforts against those benefitting from the status quo, Stocker seeks solidarity with cantons facing similar issues, such as Basel-Stadt and Geneva. “The issue demands immediate attention,” he asserted, highlighting the critical need for a more balanced fiscal relationship among Swiss cantons.


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