Category Archives: Zurich Money

Can You Claim A Tax Rebate?

Foreign employees resident in Switzerland are generally subject to tax at source on their Swiss employment income. In other words, the employer deducts the applicable source tax rate directly from the monthly gross income and forwards it to the tax authority. Annual employment income > CHF 120’000 If the annual gross income is above the threshold of CHF 120’000 the tax authority asks the foreign employee to complete a tax return based on the world-wide income and net wealth (so called retrospective ordinary tax assessment). The tax levied at source will then be credited against the ultimate tax liability. Annual employment income < CHF 120’000 Foreign employees with an annual employment income below the threshold of CHF 120’000 only need to file a tax return if their annual income – other than Swiss employment income – such as dividend income, rental income, etc. amounts to at least CHF 2’500 and/or if the world-wide net wealth equals or is higher than CHF 200’000. Foreign employees reaching these thresholds will not be asked to file a tax return. They will need to be proactive in order not to evade Swiss taxes on this particular income and or net wealth respectively. Swiss employment income will remain subject to source tax. However, there is a possibility to apply for reassessment of source tax. The applicable source tax rate considers deductions for occupational expenses, insurance premiums and family allowances on a flat rate basis. Hence, if you incurred costs in 2014 that are not covered by the flat rate basis deduction – such as debit interest, pension fund payments, contributions to the so-called pillar 3a, alimony payments, childcare costs or higher effective occupational expenses – you may possibly claim refund. Furthermore, if you qualify as an expat according to Swiss tax law you may possibly ask for a deduction of further occupational expenses such as fees for a foreign-language private school for your children. Such application for reassessment of source tax has to be filed no later than 31 March, following the tax year. In other words, applications to amend the 2014 source tax rate need to be filed by 31 March 2015 at the latest. An extension of the deadline is not granted. Individual analysis required InThe above is a general outline of the source tax regime, which however does not apply with regard to some specific situations. For example if your family lives abroad you might not be subject to a retrospective ordinary tax assessment despite an annual income of more than CHF 120’000. For employees with a very high income this may be beneficial as the source tax rate is lower in the highest tax bracket than the ordinary tax rate. Furthermore, once a foreign employee acquires a permanent resident permit (so called C-permit), Swiss citizenship or marries a Swiss national or a C-permit holder, source tax no longer applies. Thus, each case needs to be analysed on an individual basis in order to determine what tax regime will be applicable and whether a refund of source tax may possibly be claimed. Severine Vogel, Staiger, Schwald & Partner Attorney-at-Law, MLaw, LL.M., Certified Tax Expert severine.vogel@ssplaw.ch Telephone +41 58 387 80 00 Staiger, Schwald & Partner is a full-service law firm based in Zurich and Berne. The tax team advises private clients on all tax matters. We have great expertise with regard to international clients living and working in Switzerland. We prepare tax returns, advise private clients relocating to Switzerland with regard to tax, social security and residence permit issues, obtain rulings from the tax authorities as well as analyse, design and implement tax efficient structures. Furthermore, we have great expertise in the taxation of trusts and foundations and also advise private clients regarding estate and succession planning. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Legal note: This article was prepared with due care. However, it does not constitute legal advice. As such, you may not rely on it for any purpose and any liability for the accuracy, correctness or fairness of the contents is explicitly excluded.

Moving Again? 10 Golden Rules On Doing Your Own Interior Design

As expats we are used to moving. From country, city or just to another place in the same location. And although new beginnings are exciting it is still a hassle!We have to plan for movers, pack everything, clean the new and old apartment and maybe even plan for new furniture for the new place because the previous one doesn’t fit or it’s simply its time to go! But moving is also a great opportunity!

    • It’s a chance to organize all your paperwork and finally find those “misplaced” documents or precious objects you thought were lost forever
    • And especially it’s a chance to plan the interior design of your dreams!

Planning your new home interiors includes both the functional and the aesthetical aspects of it. Both are equally important.Here are 10 Golden Rules on how to achieve an efficient and harmonious interior without having to hire a professional for a large project:

    1. Select carefully the old furniture: select all the furniture, lighting and objects you would like to take with you. Make sure they work well together and don’t give too much thought at this point to where they could go. Verify their condition and measure all of them.
    1. Measure your new place in detail. You should know all the measures of the walls (width and height) and also what fixed units are in each one (radiators, cabinets, pipes, plugs, etc…)
    1. Get inspired! Take a step back and try to imagine what your ideal home would look like. You can draw inspiration from a nice hotel where you may have been, friends homes, a interior magazine, etc… Pinterest.com can also be a great tool when looking for inspiration. Put together a couple of key images that make you happy and are compatible with the style of the pieces of furniture you absolutely need to keep.
    1. Define colors, materials and overall mood. Decide what the color pallet, materials & textures and mood of your new home will be. Make a list.
    1. Plan the space layout: plan your new home furniture arrangement on paper or computer. You can easily make a paper floor plan and draw the furniture or even place little pieces of furniture cardboard on the floor plan and play with the multiple combinations (http://redefinedliving.com/2014/02/11/how-to-draw-a-floorplan-by-hand/). Or you can use a simple free program like com (http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-make-a-digital-floorpla-112560)
    1. Think of everything in advance: your new plan should accommodate first all the pieces that you are bringing from the old house and should be complemented with any missing furniture, lighting and decoration. Don’t forget the rugs, side tables, curtains, and placement of suspensions and specially allow for an efficient space flow.
    1. Be strong…and edit! If some of your old pieces don’t seem to fit either the new style of the space then don’t force them in. They will probably compromise the harmony of your home. Store them for a while until you feel the space properly and then you can make a decision on keeping it or sell it, for example.
    2. Make elevations: drawing some elevations could be very useful to plan key walls and compositions that you may wish to create. (http://redefinedliving.com/2014/02/11/how-to-draw-a-floorplan-by-hand/
    1. Put all the pieces of the puzzle together! Now you know what you would like to achieve, how your current pieces fit in your new vision and what other items you will have to create or get to complete your design. Make sure you plan your new pieces using as reference your inspirational images (point 3) and also the right colors and materials (point 4). Do the same for your decoration pieces.
    1. Enroll in an interior design workshop! If all these steps feel overwhelming and/or you would like to learn more about these techniques then a short interior design course could be the thing for you. There are a few English-speaking workshops that cover the full methodology and give you a good insight on the professional’s secrets of the trade! At www.virginiaazevedo.com under workshops you will find intense 2–days workshops in Zurich with very good feedback by all participants in the last 5 years. In this workshop you can also get a lot of lessons learned directly from the instructor and avoid the most common mistakes people usually make, example: a good lighting plan for the right mood and energy savings.

If you follow these steps you will surely create an interior that is as close as possible to your initial dream. Just make sure you stay consistent and faithful to your vision beginning to end. Good luck and happy move!!

Time Poor And Need Help? Try Jacando!

Need help? Why not Jacando!Many of us who moved to Switzerland or relocated anywhere else in the world are starting a life in a new environment, where we need to settle a new routine and adopt new life.You are lucky if you speak German, if you come from Western Europe, if you already have friends or relatives who help you to integrate into the Swiss society. Most of us are left dealing with the life arrangements all by our self. Every expat mummy at one point of this chaotic process faces similar questions: where do I find a nanny for tonight, when I go to the cinema? How do I help my kids to improve their German, where do I find a piano tutor or how to start the birthday party planning? If you are a single professional lady, then surely at one point you decide to redesign your apartment, what normally happens? You are left with already unwrapped closet and the instructions, thinking what are you going to do with all these little screws?  What if you leave on short notice, but you did not find any trusted hands for your pet? Are you a businessman who desperately needs help with groceries, shirt ironing, and household, because you just cannot find a free time between over planned working days and fun planned weekends. Does that sound familiar for you, too? What can you actually do in this situation? You can ask your friend or working colleague to share their Putzfrau with you, maybe they will agree. You can go online and search using Google translator, identifying some key words, and maybe you will succeed. You can call an agency who would charge you fees and send the first available person to you. In the end, it all will cost money and valuable time. Is that really so sad looking? Hold on for a moment… For a couple of years there have been solutions for your problems – there are online platforms that can help you to find any service person for all needs possible. TASKRABBIT TaskRabbit is an American online marketplace, where users name the task that needs to be completed, and they also name the price they are willing to pay. The information goes through the network to the available “TaskRabbit” in the appropriate region, who helps the user to complete the job.. FIVERR  Fiverr is another online marketplace based in the US. They offer services for users for a starting price of $5 per job.

The company has a whole range of services, and they are famous for offering ridiculous and eccentric services such as “to receive travel tips for visiting Paris” or “post 500 likes on your facebook page”. But we are not in the US, what is left for us? JACANDO Jacando is a start-up company based in Switzerland, who started in 2012, and is a fast growing business. Jacando offers a market place for social mini-jobs for every need, taste, and requirement. User-friendly trilingual menu leads you through the required registration process. Every user can place an offer with an expectation on the price for the services. Every time somebody applies for a job, the job sponsor receives a confirmation email. Through the transparent review and rating system the sponsor can choose his favorite candidate and immediately after completing the selection process, he receives the contact details of his jobber. This easy system allows the sponsor to find the best person within a couple of hours and satisfy both sides. An online marketplace is maybe not for everyone, but it is worth trying it. Even if you are not a mum, professional lady or businessman, there are most certainly some daily tasks that you would like to be done without your participation. Why do not try it out now!

Introducing Classified Ads

As we have had a lot of requests to post or broadcast small ads, we are today trialling a new classified ads service on zurichexpats.com.  This is in beta at the moment so we are not charging a fee, but once fully live, ads can be added for just 5 CHF per month.\r\n  Ads are now fully live and you can post your ad for just 5 CHF per month! Posting an ad requires registration but you can browse the ads without registering.  So, if you have something you want to advertise or sell, please visit our Classified Ads Page. As we are testing this, we very warmly welcome any feedback either by email or in the comments.

The Zurich “Rental Vote”. What Does It Mean?

When people decide to move to Zurich or arrive here there is one thing that most notice right away — it’s expensive. the city is consistently ranked amongst the most expensive in the world. This is not just a fact for expats, but for many Swiss and longterm residents of the city as well. Recent reports about the Bahnhofstrasse have shown that even for old and established businesses the rents have become hard to pay. On Sunday November 25th residents of canton Zurich were asked to vote on a new initiative backed by the Zürcher Mietverband (ZMV — Zurich Renters’ Association). The high influx of people to canton Zurich from the rest of Switzerland, Europe and elsewhere has seen rent prices shoot up, especially in the Limmat city. At present there are two central issues responsible for high rent prices in the city and canton of Zurich. First, there is a very high demand for flats in Zurich. Second, any new and newly renovated flats have been designed for the upper price segment. If one looks on Homegate.ch one will find just under 250 flats in the city of Zurich that are at least 1.5 rooms large and under CHF 2000/month, whereas flats with at least 1.5 rooms and a price starting of CHF 2200/month delivers 675 available flats in the city of Zurich. The two people’s initiatives (Volksinitiative) that were put forth would have required landlords to openly present the rent conditions and price the previous renter paid to new tenants without their explicit request. This is meant to hinder cases like that of Maite Torrente, who took over a lease after subletting the flat and saw the rent go from CHF 1532/month to CHF 1744/month even though the interest rates went down this past year. After having a lawyer get involved the rent was lowered to CHF 1478/month. The ZMV and many others believe that this is unfair and that it should never get to the stage where lawyers are needed in the first place. Furthermore, many looking for flats and the ZMV argue that with the housing shortage many potential tenants are afraid of asking for information because they are so desperate to get into a flat that they don’t want to “start any trouble.” According to Walter Angst from the ZMV tenants have 30 days after signing a lease contract to request any information regarding the previous terms of rent and to request rent reductions. With the two initiatives landlords would need to present that information before hand and thus the onus would be taken off of tenants to defend themselves against unfair rent increases. The initiatives clearly accused Landlords of withholding this information from new tenants. In a recent article in the Tages Anzeiger, it was reported that many tenants from the same house or settlement will not be approved to switch flats, should they be seeking a larger flat or just to move to a flat with a better view, because they have a good idea of what the rent was and/or should be, and will easily spot if the rent has been raised by too much. Landlords are of course allowed to raise their rents, however, this is also controlled. Principally a new building should have no more than 4.25% gross rate of return and older buildings no more than a 2.75% net rate of return. At present if a tenant believes they are being gouged, it is their responsibility to approach the landlord or rental agency and get the arbitration office involved. If the arbitrator cannot help the two sides come to a settlement them further legal procedures may be necessary, however, most landlords will choose to settle outside of court. This takes time and costs money. The first of the initiatives “Rechtschutz für alle (Mietgericht gebührenfrei)” would have made this free for tenants, for which reason the Canton of Zurich has encouraged constituents to vote against the initiative. Zurich voters followed the advice of the canton and votes 60% against the initiative “Rechtschutz für alle (Mietgericht gebührenfrei),” which for the cash strapped canton was a blessing On Wednesday November 21, the ZMV issued an open letter inviting the HEV (Hauseingentümerverband: Home owners association) to meet for a roundtable and work on creating a label of “fair landlords”. The goal of such a label would be that landlords and agencies renting out flats will freely and openly show their tenants, especially new tenants, all of the documents regarding the costs of the building, former rent rates and to freely pass on reductions in interest. It is exactly this that the second ballot item on Sunday also aimed to address, though not with a label, but through making it mandatory. The HEV response was that the ZMV should have suggested this earlier and that they would also like to see a label for good renters. The open letter does make one wonder if there was fear by the ZMV that the issue would not pass the vote. For future renters, the second initiative passed with a 52% majority, however, the new law will not come into effect until November 2013. For their part the people of Zurich tamed the real estate shark (Immo-Hai) without asking the state to bare the costs and have set the ball rolling to ensure that the renting scene in the canton becomes more favourable for those seeking new lease objects. The threat that was put forth by the HEV that voting yes would cause a split between tenants and landlords was unfounded, as the yes simply takes the onus off renters to make sure they are not being taken advantage of. Landlords maintain the right to make a profit and to choose their tenants. At present the best way for renters to protect themselves is by joining the ZMV, which provides legal advice and assistance when dealing with landlords. Christian Langenegger Marathon Sprachen Am Wasser 44 8049 Zürich www.marathonsprachen.com

Finding Childcare In Zurich

We were contacted by Tanya at Rockmybaby, offering professional childcare services in Zurich and Schaffhausen. We asked her for some helpful tips on interviewing and employing a nanny. 

Employing a nanny for the first time can be nerve-wracking for some.

Understanding the role of a nanny, preparing for an employee, conducting interviews and establishing an open, professional relationship are all things that any employer can do to help make employing a nanny a success. Interviewing your nanny:

    • Inform the nanny about your family life and children,
    • Describe the job description,
    • Ask the nanny to tell you about herself, and what she is looking for in a new job,
    • Go through the nanny’s CV in detail, asking her to describe each nanny position and why she left,
    • Run through a list of questions relating to the nanny’s abilities as a childcare,
    • Views on discipline, activities for the children etc,
    • Ask the nanny if she has any specific questions,
    • Encourage the nanny to ask questions.
    • Call your best candidates back for a second interview. Give them a chance to spend some time with your children, to go through the finer details and any outstanding questions they may have.

Finally, trust your intuition. Contact Tanya for any of your childcare related needs on 043 4440978 / 079 6609307 or email on zurich@rockmybaby.chwww.rockmybaby.ch  This article is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation. It is up to you to perform your own checks into prospective childcare providers.

How To Find A Shared Apartment In Zurich

So recently I have noticed that there are more and more young people arriving to live and work in Zurich. With attractive salaries, good job opportunities and a lively international atmosphere it is very understandable. If you already have the benefit of a job the next step to actually living here is accommodation, but in case you were not aware, being a foreigner and depending on your permit and income, apartments can be hard to find. If you are a family, couple or someone who is looking to live alone then things can be very tough as dealing with agencies and multiple websites that are only in German can be difficult, also the landlords are notoriously fickle and may look at many applicants before choosing the one with the best credentials. However if you are someone (maybe a young professional or student) that would like to share an apartment then there are many easier options that don’t require mountains of paperwork, are relatively fast and cheaper. Shared apartments are quite popular here as this results in lower rent for larger apartments and you get to meet new people or live with friends. Also some people can be eager to live with English speakers as this allows them to practice their English. Firstly a shared apartment here in Zurich is called a “WG” which stands for Wohngemeinschaften or Residential Communities. Also WG is never pronounced in English, even expats all pronounce the phrase “vay-gay”. Websites So now that you have established that you would like to live in a WG, here are some helpful websites. There are literally hundreds of accommodation websites out there but this shorter list I have compiled are websites I have had personal experience with. They are all free and are popular with the WG community here in Zurich. WG zimmerThis is possibly the most popular website for WGs in Switzerland with hundreds of ads and the website is available in English which is great. It deals almost exclusively with rooms in shared apartments, but there are some studios available. While you can just spend you time browsing the ads I would recommend actually posting your own ad, as this allows you receive offers from people looking to rent a room, as well as alerting you when a new room that matches your criteria is posted. The only downside about this is that you will end up receiving a lot of email notifications. There can be a lot of competition for popular apartments though, so make sure to write a good email application (see below). Ron Orp English This is one of my favorite websites for Zurich and I would recommend signing up for their newsletter when you arrive. There are 2 parts of the site one for Zurich in English and one in German. The site is very good and tends to be used by local people, especially students and young professionals. This means that you can sometimes find much cheaper apartments in great locations. The English site is obviously all in English which is great for some one who has just arrived and can’t speak any German, however there are far more ads in the German part of the site. See below. Ron Orp German As mentioned above this is a great site used by local people. Also it is not as frequented as WG zimmer so you have less competition. The main trouble here is that you will have to navigate in German, however don’t be put off and use this as an opportunity to start trying to learn some new vocabulary. The accommodation listings are included in the “Dach über dem Kopf” section, which directly translates as “a roof over your head”. I would also try to include you application email in German, if you can’t do it yourself simply google translate it, and paste it in along with the same one in English. This will make a better impression. tutti.ch This is another good website for accommodation, it is a small classified website and has ads for every type of thing. While not as popular as some of the above it means you have less competition. Also worth noting is that the website is not available in English, only French, German and Italian. Select your Canton and then accommodation section will be called “Immobilien” then further narrow the field by selecting “mieten” which means rental and then you should be able to narrow the fields further by filling in the location cost and size. English Forum This forum is a wealth of Information about renting in Zurich. Since the forum is exclusively in English it is easy to understand and navigate for non German speakers. If you go to the bottom there is a Market Place section with an accommodation listing. Here you can search the ads, also If you are a member you can even post a wanted ad. However the draw back here is the amount and quality of posts. While there is a certain camaraderie among the Expat community, not many will be directly offering a room in their apartment but will announcing that they are vacating it and you might still have to deal with an agency for a studio as there are not a lot of WG adverts. Gratis Inserate Another classified website with all kinds of small ads. As above with www.tutti.ch narrow down your search. There is not a huge amount of ads but it is used by locals and competition will be less intense.Furnished? Furnished apartments are not standard in Zurich and the great thing about moving into a WG is that the apartment will already be lived in which will save you spending thousands on basic kitchenware, couches, tables and chairs etc. Often though your room will not be furnished but I have previously written an article about how to get free and cheap furniture here in Zurich. So don’t be worried if your room is empty. Writing an email application When you are applying for a WG make sure to send a more information than “I’m interested, when can I view”. Reasonably priced accommodation is at a premium here and cheaper apartments will have hundreds of applicants.This is why you should write an email describing yourself in as much detail as you feel comfortable, the important points to include are

 

  • age
  • nationality
  • spoken languages
  • what you are doing here in Zurich
  • what your expected income is if you are working (they want to know you will be able to pay the rent after all)
  • when you are available to move in and when you are leaving
  • make sure you include your likes/dislikes
  • mention if you have shared apartments before and why you really enjoyed it and want to do it again.

It is always nice to customise each email and try to write why that apartment appeals to you in particular, for example “your apartment seems affordable and I really like that area” or “you seem like a cool group of people and I would really like to live with people I could be friends with”.As previously mentioned rooms in cheap and good locations will have many applications and they will often only invite a selection of people to view it, so the more information you give the better your chances.Viewings, So once you have managed to sell yourself and have a viewing be prepared to be very friendly and chatty as viewings take more the form of an interview rather than first come first serve. Also something that can be a shock to some accommodation seekers is the “casting” this is a viewing/interview but in a group situation, yes you will literally meet some or all of your rivals. This is a tricky situation but can be all to common in Zurich, especially for popular locations with a cheap price. It can be difficult to stand out in a group but make sure you don’t stand out for the wrong reasons and avoid rude or aggressive comments with the other candidates as you will be judged on how you engage with the other people.Questions to ask:

 

  • is everything included (internet, heating ect)
  • what is your relationship with your neighbours and landlord
  • how does cleaning the apartment work (often there will be a schedule)
  • will you have a contract (important if you are declaring your address to get your permit)

Don’t be afraid to ask some questions as it will show that you are interested, these are just a guide so make sure to add your own. Rental costsZurich rents seem quite high compared to other cities but if you are working it should balance out as the salary’s are also quite high. For a WG you should expect to pay in the region of 700 – 1100 CHF. Yes this is high for a room, but when you consider the quality of the communal spaces for example you will often get a proper kitchen with a dishwasher, oven, dining table, and a sitting room with a couch and TV, then the costs is much cheaper than what you would get alone in a small studio.The social aspects of living with people who are already established in the city can be very beneficial for new arrivals, and personally I can say that living in a WG is a great experience. Remember that while the castings and meetings might be a bit of a put off, the concept that you only want to live with people you will get along with is perfectly understandable.Best of luck with your search.