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Ratgeber Private Vorsorge: Unterschiede 3a und 3b

The third pillar. What is the difference between pillar 3a and pillar 3b?

Key points at a glance
In Switzerland, the “3rd pillar” is voluntary private provision for retirement and supplements 1st and 2nd pillar pension income. Pillar 3a is subject to conditions and offers tax advantages. Pillar 3b or flexible pension provision is more versatile.

Why is the third pillar important?

Everyone living or working in Switzerland is covered by the old age, survivors’ and disability insurance schemes (OASI/DI). These pay benefits in the shape of retirement, disability or survivors’ pensions. If, on top of that, you are a member of a pension fund through your employer, you will enjoy additional retirement, disability and survivors’ benefits.

But even if you have always paid your OASI contributions in full and have always been insured in a pension fund through your employer, you can expect to receive only 60% of your final salary as pension income. That makes supplementary private provision via the third pillar so essential – especially for people who are not gainfully employed, only work part-time or have breaks in employment, but also for self-employed persons who do not belong to a pension fund.

What is the third pillar?

The third pillar – private provision for retirement – supplements the benefits paid by the state pension schemes (OASI/IV) and occupational pension schemes (pension funds).

The third pillar enables you to voluntarily build up additional savings for your retirement, systematically supplementing your OASI and occupational pensions and enhancing your financial freedom in retirement.

You can also use the third pillar to supplement first- and second-pillar disability pensions in accordance with your particular needs, making it at least financially possible for you to live an independent life despite a disability. If you have financial obligations, such as a mortgage, you can also secure it via the third pillar. Then, if you were to die, your family would be protected financially and could remain in their own four walls.

What are the differences between pillar 3a and pillar 3b?
You can invest your money in tied or flexible pension provision, depending on your savings goal. Over the long term and with tax advantages in pillar 3a. In a more flexible and personalized form in pillar 3b.
Pillar 3a
Pillar 3b
Who can pay in?
Anyone gainfully employed in Switzerland with income subject to OASI contributions (employees or the self-employed) Anyone, irrespective of occupation and place of
How long does the contract run?
Generally until you reach OASI retirement age You are free to choose
What is the maximum savings contribution in 2023?
Gainfully employed, pension fund member: max. CHF 7,056
Gainfully employed, not a pension fund member:
max. CHF 35,280, but no more than 20% of net earned income
No restrictions
Tax advantages on making payments
3a contributions are deductible from taxable income Generally not deductible
Taxation during the contract term (wealth tax)
None Current surrender value
Tax advantages on payout (income tax)
Capital payments are taxed separately from other income at a reduced rate
Capital payments are tax-free in certain circumstances
Can the benefits be pledged?
Only to finance owner-occupied residential property Possible
Are advance withdrawals possible?
Yes; at the earliest five years before reaching OASI retirement age Possible
When is a surrender possible?
To purchase pension fund benefits
If you leave Switzerland for good
If you become self-employed
If you begin drawing a full DI pension
To purchase owner-occupied residential property
To pay off a mortgage
Who can be beneficiary?
The following order of succession must be observed:
1. Surviving spouse (mandatory)
2. Direct descendants (mandatory)
3. Parents
4. Siblings
5. Other heirs
Heirs are free to choose
Savings goal
Tax-privileged form of saving for retirement, with the option of indirect use to pay off residential property Freely selectable, with tailored flexibility
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What others wanted to know

Our customer advisors can provide answers to selected FAQs. Just tell us what you want to know. We will be happy to help you.

Diana G. (33), St. Gallen

When should I pay into the third pillar?

As a general rule, you can make payments at any time. In the case of pillar 3a, however, you cannot pay in more than the maximum annual amount set by the Federal Council. Your payment must reach the recipient by no later than 31 December of any year in order to qualify for deduction from your income tax the following year. If you pay in at the beginning of the year, you earn interest over the entire year on the amount paid.

And, if you can afford to invest the pillar-3a maximum amount, you can invest up to the same amount in pillar-3b, provided you have the necessary funds available.


Andy Senn

Customer Advisor

Carlos N. (38), Oberwil

I work part-time. How much should I pay into the third pillar?

The third pillar is particularly important for part-time workers, as their pension fund benefits will be much lower due to their part-time status. But, unfortunately, part-time workers generally have very little money available to invest in the third pillar. Still, even small amounts are worthwhile – especially over a very long savings period. What is more, you can also lower your tax burden by making contributions to pillar 3a. Do the test with our tax calculator.


Thomas Bollier

Market Manager Pension/Finance

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