In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Ryser v. Switzerland (application no. 23040/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been: a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned Mr Ryser’s liability to the military service exemption tax even though he had been declared unfit for service. The applicant complained of discrimination on the grounds of his state of health. The Court found that Mr Ryser had indeed suffered discriminatory treatment on the grounds of his state of health. It noted in that regard that the distinction between persons who were unfit for military service and were exempted from the tax in issue and persons who were unfit for service and were nonetheless required to pay the tax was unreasonable. It also noted that Mr Ryser had been placed at a considerable disadvantage as compared with conscientious objectors who were fit for service but could conduct alternative civilian service and thereby avoid paying the tax in question. The Court also pointed out that the relatively low amount of the tax was not decisive per se. It further observed that Mr Ryser had been a student at the relevant time. The Court took note of the legislative amendments which had been made following the judgment in the case of Glor v. Switzerland. Those amendments had, however, postdated Mr Ryser’s case and were inapplicable to it.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Taxes, disabilities, and military service
Ryser v. Switzerland, that it was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights to require individuals who are found unfit for military service because of a minor disability to pay an annual military tax while exempting those who are unfit because of a major disability and those who perform alternative service as conscientious objectors. From the court's summary: