Pillar 3a

In Switzerland, the term “pillar 3a” refers to tax-privileged private risk management and retirement savings. The pillar 3a category encompasses private retirement planning, life insurance and disability insurance. The term is most widely used in relation to tax-privileged retirement savings.

Contributions (including insurance premiums) to the pillar 3a can be deducted from taxable income, up to an annual limit set by the Federal Council. Pillar 3a retirement assets (including the cash value of life insurance policies) do not qualify as taxable wealth.

Pillar 3a retirement savings are held in escrow by a Swiss retirement foundation. These are typically subsidiaries of banks. Pillar 3a retirement saving and investment vehicles include 3a retirement accounts, 3a life insurance policies, 3a retirement funds and 3a wealth management services.

The earliest point at which 3a assets can be accessed is 5 years ahead of legal retirement age. Assets can be accessed before the legal age if their holder leaves Switzerland permanently, uses them to purchase real estate as a primary residence or invests them in founding a new business.

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of moneyland.ch and an independent expert on banking and finance.