Petitioners demand a reassessment24.08.2020 Local News
In the Canton of Berne, the official values of non-agricultural land will be revalued retroactively to 1 January 2020. The three municipalities in the Saanenland are massively affected by the increase. A delegation from the Saanenland intends to use a petition launched by private individuals to make itself heard in Bern on 25 August.
Saanen, Gsteig and Lauenen are massively affected by the reassessment of the official values. On average, they have risen by 134 percent in Lauenen, 94 percent in Gsteig and 154 percent in Saanen.
The property owners in the municipalities of Gsteig and Lauenen received the definitive numbers of the revaluation at the end of July, the property owners in the municipality of Saanen will receive them in September. The feared effects have become reality, and in some cases even exceeded expectations.
Martina and Hansueli Reichenbach from Lauenen are also affected by the increase, not exessively but nevertheless unjustifiably high, as Hansueli Reichenbach emphasises. Their house is situated in a remote location on the Wolfegg at 1400 metres. In response, they have launched a petition to set an example in Bern.
According to Reichenbach, the reassessment was unfair, a theoretic and unrealistic decision. Only in individual cases had there been an actual inspection. He is not fundamentally against an increase in the official value, but not to this extent, says Reichenbach. He would personally accept an increase between 70 and 80 percent. “But anything above 100 percent is out of the question,” he says decidedly.
The municipalities of Gsteig and Lauenen have addressed letters to the cantonal government and the petition has been well received by the local population. On 25 August, a delegation from the three municipalities will hand over the signature sheets collected up to that date to councillor Beatrice Simon. The demand is clear and simple: a reassessment of the whole revaluation.
Jürg Horn, a trustee in Gstaad, knows that there will be tough cases. An increase of half a month to a month’s salary would hit property owners in the low-wage sector hard. Horn, however, advises against “objections for the sake of objection”. The only way to achieve something is through politics.
In order to cushion the effects somewhat, the municipalities of Lauenen and Saanen have reduced their property taxes. Lauenen from 1.5 to 0.6 per mill, Saanen from 1.5 to 1 per mill. “Lauenen has done a commendable job”, says Jürg Horn. “With the lower rate, property taxes will stay more or less the same.” In his opinion, the municipality of Saanen could have set the property tax even lower.
Gsteig, on the other hand, has refrained from lowering it. They wanted to wait and see the effects. However, as financial manager Karl Graa explained in May, an adjustment will be an issue at the December municipal meeting at the latest.
BASED ON AVS/ANITA MOSER
“The general revaluation in 2020 is intended to restore equal tax treatment in accordance with the legal requirements. All properties are to be valued correctly for tax purposes, regardless of the region in which the property is located (city of Berne, Saanen or Courtelary) or the type of building (e.g. detached, semi-detached or apartment building). Similarly, people with real estate and those with movable assets (e.g. bank accounts) should again be subject to a comparable tax burden,” the canton defines the goal of the revaluation.
The petition, launched by Martina and Hansueli Reichenbach, can be signed in the three municipal administrations of Lauenen, Gsteig and Saanen as well as in various shops. Any person, regardless of age, sex or nationality, can sign the petition. The signature sheets can be handed in at the municipal administrations or sent directly to the initiators of the petition. The signature sheets will be handed over to the cantonal authorities in Bern on Tuesday, 25 August. However, the collection of signatures will continue beyond this date.