All posts by Guest Post

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 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… 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 ( Or you can use a simple free program like com (
    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. (
    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 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!!

Swiss Wine And Cheese Pairings

I moved to Switzerland four years ago from the US, where I worked as a corporate attorney. After a bit of time here I realized that my passion for wine, food, travelling, and discovering European regions and the culture was stronger than my desire to work as a lawyer, so I left my job and decided to pursue a career in wine. And then there was Switzerland, home to idyllic sweeping pastures with cows grazing and overlooking a backdrop of gorgeous mountains. Switzerland is home to about 450 types of cheese and produces over 1.1 million hectolitres of wine per year. There are over 40 indigenous grape varietals in Switzerland, many of them found only in this small, mountainous country and undiscovered elsewhere…the perfect place to achieve what I was looking for. One of the great classic pairings is cheese and wine. This is also one of the easiest ways to make a great wine and/or a great cheese really stink…so lets delve into the world of Swiss wine and Swiss cheese! There are many types of cheese, but I will concentrate on these 4 main types of cheese: Fresh – soft cheeses such as goat milk chevre, Neufchatel, mozzarella Bloom – Soft, creamy cheese with an edible white outer layer (aka the bloom) Hard – Pretty self explanatory – a hard cheese, with a low moisture content and a tang of salt Blue – pungent, generally soft cheese with a blue tinge The best cheese plate will have a variety of cheeses, so pick your favorites!

Soft Swiss Cheese :

Tomme vaudoise – from the canton of Vaud and Geneva, this is a lovely mild, soft cheese. Its not aged, and very creamy. Try this with one of Switzerland’s most noble varietals – Chasselas (called Fendant in the Valais) – its freshness and tang will pair great with the wine! One of my favorites is the Chasselas from Ecole de Changins. This wine is mineral and fresh and will compliment a lot of creamy cheeses. Chasselas is native to Switzerland and produced full bodied, fruity, dry white wine. 

Creamy Swiss Cheese:

Vacherin Mont d’OrThis thick, creamy cheese from the Franco Swiss border should never be served too cool. It has the perfect melt in your mouth texture that is wonderful after a meal or served on toasty bread. A wonderful compliment to this cheese would be a Pinot Gris from Geneva from Domaine du Chambet, a Riesling, or the Solaris varietal grown near Zurich. Solaris is a varietal that grows well in the canton of Zurich. It is beautifully perfumed with floral and tropical fruit aromas. 

Semi-hard Swiss Cheese:

Appenzeller – hailing from the north, this robust, slightly spicy, herbal cheese would go perfectly with a light, fruity pinot noir from Grisons. A closely guarded herbal brine is applied to the cheese during the aging process. the herbacity of the cheese will match the slightly herbaceous quality of Pinot Noir. Switzerland, Pinot Noir grows especially well in the canton of Graubünden (aka Grissons) and near Geneva. 

Semi-hard Swiss Cheese:

Tete de Moine – this semi hard cheese from thr Jura region looks gorgeous on a cheese plate. Cut not with a knife, but rather shaved into delicate curls with a special tool called a Girolle, it is as pretty as it is delicious. Full, aromatic, with a slight herbal hint, this goes great with a citrusy, grassy Sauvignon Blanc or Muller Thurgau.

Hard Swiss Cheese:

Gruyere – this cheese has been produced since 1115! This unpasteurized cow’s cheese is one of the ‘must haves’ for any wine and cheese soiree. It is fantastic while young and deliciously salty when aged. An authentic Swiss fondue would be nothing without Gruyere! While Chasselas is the obvious choice for fondue, young gruyere (aka doux) pairs well with a slightly buttery and fruity Chardonnay or a juicy, bursting with berry flavor Gamay. Try an aged Gruyere with A slightly sweet Petite Arvine for a great salty and sweet combo. For something truly out of this world, try an aged Heida (also known as Savagnin) or the rare Completer varietal with an 18 month Gruyere. Gamay, from the Beaujolais region of France, has gained a great following in French Switzerland. 

Extra hard Swiss Cheese:

Sbrinz – extra hard, and extra salty, and slightly sour, this is a cheese that has an amazing texture and taste. Made in central Switzerland, this intense cheese will stand up to (and sometimes overpower) red wine. Try this with a Humagne rouge, a Gamaret or Cabernet Franc. Humagne Rouge is also known as Cornalin d’Aoste.. Gamaret is a varietal created in the 1970s to suit the terroir of French Switzerland – which makes it almost impossible to find outside of Switzerland! Humagne Rouge (aka Cornalin d’Aoste) is an indigenous grape varietal of Switzerland. It is now mainly planted in the Valais region.  researching for this article I found a book that I should definitely purchase: Cheese, slices of Swiss Culture by Sue Styles. It picks out around 30 Swiss cheses that one must try, including some blue cheese like Bleuchatel. Try the few blue Swiss cheeses you can find with some Amigne. This varietal makes rich, full bodied wines (which one) that can be dry or sweet. I love a sweet wine with a blue cheese!Amigne, another native Swiss varietal, makes a range of wines from dry to sweet. You can tell how sweet an Amigne wine is by how many bees are on the label. This was a first in Switzerland – a wine law that required winemakers to disclose the sugar content of their wines. 1 bee is dry to off dry (aka a hint of sweetness) and 3 bees is very sweet. 

Interview from “La Käserie”, a french cheese boutique in Berlin.


Hello La Käserie, which cheese made you feel like “I want to do this for a living”?A natural unpasteurized goat milk cheese: The “Rovethym”. Romain had the occasion to visit the producer few months before we opened the shop. This cheese is particular because it is only produced from one kind of goat milk, from the race called “Rove”. These animals do not produce a lot of milk and are fed outdoor all year long.Which cheese and wine pairing was a real catch for you?For us we love a sweet white wine (like Sauternes, Coteaux du Layon, Jurancon, Chateau Yquem 1991;) ) with a veined cheese like Roquefort or Bleu des Causses.Which advice would you have for a newby to discover the wolrd of cheese and jump into wine and cheese pairing?We would advise him to start with soft cheeses (Like Saint-Nectaire, Tome des Bauges, Saint-Marcellin, Ossau-Iraty, and fresh goat cheese), then go for more stylished chesses (cooked ripened cheeses, veined cheeses, or with a washed crust) and pair them with local wines. Chestnuts and nuts are often a great match with cheese, the same for other fruits like pears and blue cheese, or apples and Camembert. If we could describe your adventure in Berlin with one cheese and one wine, which ones would you pick?A Comté and a Côte du Rhône (Saint Joseph, Crozes Hermitage).. Because you need patience, perseverance and hard-work to get the best results.

Interview from Sébastien Fabbi, director of Swiss Wine Promotion, a society promoting Swiss wines abroad, shared his experiences and preferences.

Would you recommend white or red wine to pair with cheese in general?  I recommend dry white wine. Our national Chasselas “loves” cheese in general but also hard cheeses. I love matching our cheese with Chasselas, Johannisberg, Arvine white wine and of course with the older vintages Chasselas or Hermitage, which goes amazing with cheese. From the red wines, I would recommend a light red wine style like Pinot Noir, Gamay, Plant Robert or even Gamaret. What is your best Swiss cheese and wine memory? An old cheese with an old Chasselas is for me like heaven on earth. The advantage with the old Chasselas is that it can come from any region and not only from the best known or famous region such as Dézaley. Tip: MEDINETTE 2002 by Louis-Philippe Bovard and an old cheese ripened by Mr Dutweiler …Your match with a cheese fondue?With the cheese fondue I mainly recommend Chasselas / Fendant (from the Valais region). These whites are the best marrIage. But,if you are not as infatuated by Chasselas as I am, I would then recommend a Johanisber or possibly a Sylvaner Riesling that is not too aromatic and is dry and strong. Are you organizing joint events with Switzerland Cheese Marketing to let people experience different wine and cheese options? We are preparing joint projects, but the most important is of course the upcoming World Expo in Milan next year.

Stickers And Labels For Kids – StickerKid!

We are happy to present StickerKid to you – the leading brand in Switzerland for high quality, personalized name labels for children. The second good news: made a special deal with StickerKid just for you! All clients get a special 30% discount off all StickerKid products until the end of May 2014.Founded 10 years ago, StickerKid has built up a strong reputation in the region for providing durable, 100% Swiss-made name labels, which help to identify children’s clothes, shoes, toys and other belongings that are all too easily lost in playgrounds, at kindergarten, at school or in summer camps.  What makes the personalized stickers unique is, besides the excellent Swiss quality, the wide range of options you can choose from. You are able to add the text you want, you can select between a variety of colors, logos, shapes and you can even upload photos and logos yourself to make the labels even more unique. Guaranteed for 10 years, StickerKid’s labels withstand extreme outdoor temperatures, including hot summer days at the beach as well as cold wintry weather. They are scratch resistant, so that sand or other outdoor activities of your little heroes do not harm the labels. Not only resistant to sport or outdoor activities, they also withstand the rigors of the dishwasher, microwave or freezer. StickerKid’s iron-on labels have been created to withstand 45 rounds of washing at high temperature (up to 60°), but can also be removed without harming the fabric should you wish to pass on the clothes to another child.Stickerkid-medium sticker-bagDoerthe and Chris, the new owners of StickerKid explain the history of the company to us: ”StickerKid was founded by Mark, a good friend of ours, who saw the need for personalized labels with his own kids. His sons were little ‘magicians’ who managed to lose all their toys, some clothes and even shoes. As lost items added up, so did the frustration of re-buying things (not to mention the stress when a favourite cuddly toy went missing). Michael, a brilliant engineer and computer expert joined the team and together they developed StickerKid, the technology and processes behind our products.” Chris continued, “The technology and quality of our StickerKid stickers and labels is really unique. The team has spent 7 years to identify the right materials, define and optimize the production process and test the quality of the products over years in any possible condition. But the time spent perfecting the products have been worth it. Our StickerKid labels are now a favourite choice amongst Swiss parents looking for a long-lasting solution to marking their children’s clothes and belongings!” StickerKid offers a range of products to suit all eventualities. Next to the classic starter-sets, the back-to-school- sets or the stickers for shoes or the iron-on stickers they also provide bracelets. You can mention all important information as allergies, emergency-contacts, etc. on them. New this year, are StickerKid’s photo stickers, which can be personalized with a photo of your child. You can easily upload a photo, or a logo, via the StickerKid website. Fabulous to make your labels even more personal and unique. This personalized photo stickers help to ensure toys, school and sport equipment to be returned safely to you from e.g. playground, school or sleep-overs. Whilst many of you may already have used StickerKid’s labels in the past, the chances are that you will have not placed any orders through the company’s new owners.

So to introduce themselves to our clients, Chris and Doerthe are offering clients a special 30% discount off any orders made before the end of June 2014. Just use the special code “Zurichexpats_2014” when placing your order on their website. The offer is valid for all orders made in Switzerland.

The Accident by Chris Pavone

When Chris Pavone’s first novel The Expats was published in March 2012, it quickly became one of the most talked about debuts of the year. The incredibly twisty and sophisticated narrative received high praise from John Grisham, Olen Steinhauer, and Patricia Cornwell, reviews that drew comparisons to John Le Carre and Graham Greene, was optioned for film, sold in 18 countries, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, and won both the Edgar and Anthony Awards for Best First Novel. Now in THE ACCIDENT, Pavone has done it again. From New York City and Los Angeles to Zurich and Copenhagen, he has penned a masterful thriller that has all the hallmarks that excited booksellers, bloggers, reviewers and readers when he debuted his first novel: the methodical ratcheting up of suspense and high-end elegance that hooked thriller fans and literary readers alike; the realistic characters with rich inner lives; the exoticism of Europe; and layers of secrets that plague all involved. In New York, in the early dawn hours, literary agent Isabel Reed is reading frantically, turning the pages breathlessly. The manuscript—printed out, hand-delivered and anonymous—is full of shocking revelations that could bring down one of the most powerful men in the world, and initiate a tremendous scandal implicating multiple American presidents and CIA directors. This is what Isabel has been waiting for: a book that will help her move on from a painful past, a book that could reinvigorate her career . . . a book that will change the world. In Copenhagen, CIA agent Hayden Gray has been steadfastly monitoring the dangers that abound in Europe. His latest task is to track a manuscript—the same manuscript that Isabel is reading. As he ensures that The Accident remains unpublished, he’s drawn into an elite circle where politics, media, and business collide. On the one hand, the powerful mogul who has unlimited resources to get what he wants. On the other, a group of book professionals—an eager assistant, a flailing editor, an ambitious rights director, and a desperate publisher—who all see their separate salvations in this project. And in between, the author himself, hiding behind shadowy anonymity in what he hopes is safe, quiet Zurich. In this tangled web, no one knows who holds all the cards, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: an empire could crumble, careers could be launched or ruined, secrets could be unearthed, and innocent people could—and do—die. Layered with suspense and populated by exciting new characters, THE ACCIDENT is gripping, sophisticated, and impossible to put down.

Adventures Around Zurich

When you think of Switzerland, what comes into your mind?Certainly watches, chocolate, and cheese! And probably also our majestic mountains and our picturesque landscape.Having said that, it is much easier to experience chocolate and cheese or buy a watch than to enjoy Switzerland’s magnificent nature. Most people are not even aware of variety of fun activities including river-rafting, paragliding, skydiving, kayaking or canyoning that can be experience right at the border of Zurich. That’s why for adventure enthusiasts, we have recently launched – an online marketplace for adventures. Currently, more than 30 providers of adventures advertise their offering through their platform and make it accessible to both, national and international customers. Get inspired on and book your next adventure directly through our platform! We offer a 10 CHF discount for the first 100 bookings! Just use this voucher code: KULAUNCH10

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!