Switzerland May Ensure All Adults Make at Least $31K

Tax-free basic income would create more 'humanized' economy: supporters
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2016 1:15 PM CDT
Pack your bags, we're going to Switzerland!   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – On June 5, Swiss voters will weigh in on a measure that's never been implemented in any country: make sure every citizen and legal resident gets $2,600, every month, tax-free ($650 for kids)—no matter what their employment situation or income level, USA Today reports. What Gawker says is perceived as the "utopian idea" of an unconditional basic income has been bandied about by individual cities in countries such as the Netherlands and Canada, but Switzerland would be the first nation to go for it. A group of Swiss intelligentsia was able to cull the 100,000 signatures required under the Swiss system to get it on the ballot. "It would lead to a more motivated workforce and [a] more humanized, stable, and productive economy," the initiative's co-founder says.

The estimated $200 billion-a-year plan would be funded in part by raising the country's value-added tax (currently at 8%), its supporters say. Critics, however, say other taxes would have to rise, too, and fear the plan would sap people's motivation to work. Someone with no income would reap the full $2,600 a month tax-free, while others making some money would have their income supplemented to reach that cap (so if you already make $1,000, the government would fork over $1,600). And if you already bring in more than that $2,600 limit? That amount of your monthly income wouldn't be taxed. USA Today spells out what that would mean for two parents who didn't work with two kids at home: a combined family income, tax-free, of $78,000 a year. It doesn't appear likely the vote will go the initiative's way. (Read more Switzerland stories.)

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