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Old 20.07.2015, 18:23
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Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

I am a non-EU national. I will be moving to Zurich later this year for studies on a student visa. I've kept a blog for the past few years, from which I get about $2-3k/mo. I have also self-published a couple of books from which I earn another $500/mo.

I will continue to earn from the books I've already published -- which obviously shouldn't count as work, but will I have to pay taxes in Zurich? Also, if I do publish another book during my time in Zurich, will I require a work-permit for it?

I do intend to continue writing my blog. Does that count as illegal employment under the laws? (I believe this is the FAQ in question -- I am not too good at German yet.) Will I require a work-permit to write on my blog? Also, will I need to pay taxes on my income from the blog?

Thank you!
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Old 20.07.2015, 18:42
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

I don't know about the blog, but if you have income, yes, you do need to declare it for taxes.
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Old 20.07.2015, 18:48
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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I don't know about the blog, but if you have income, yes, you do need to declare it for taxes.
Thank you! That makes sense.

I'm more concerned about the work-permit. Will I need one? I was told self-employment is considered the same as employment in a foreign country, so there are some restrictions.
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Old 20.07.2015, 19:02
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

I'm sure somebody can answer better than me, but as I understand it, you can work a limited number of hours on a student permit (something like 15 hours per week). I'm guessing your blog work should come in under that, but I really don't know if not having an employer as such will make things more complicated.
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Old 20.07.2015, 19:07
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

To be honest, if you're working from home and the money is going into a non-Swiss account, i'd just not mention it. It's more hassle than it's worth. Probably not the correct thing to do, but there we go. Getting permission to be self-employed on a student permit is bound to be a nightmare.
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Old 20.07.2015, 19:12
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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I'm sure somebody can answer better than me, but as I understand it, you can work a limited number of hours on a student permit (something like 15 hours per week). I'm guessing your blog work should come in under that, but I really don't know if not having an employer as such will make things more complicated.
According to ETH website, both EU and Non-EU nationals require a work-permit. The 15 hours you're referring to is with the work-permit. You're not allowed to work any more than that at all.

It would be less than 15. It's the employer that has to apply for your work-permit afaik, so yeah, that does complicate it.
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Old 20.07.2015, 19:14
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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I'm sure somebody can answer better than me, but as I understand it, you can work a limited number of hours on a student permit (something like 15 hours per week). I'm guessing your blog work should come in under that, but I really don't know if not having an employer as such will make things more complicated.
As Mirfeld mentions, a student can work up to 15 hours per week as Nebenbeschäftigung so long as the student has a valid Aufenthaltsbewilligung. However, a work permit approval normally can only be obtained six months after the studies have started. Self-employment is not permitted. See this Canton Zurich link for more details, specifically:

  • Während des Schulsemesters können Studenten eine bezahlte Nebenbeschäftigung von bis zu 15 Stunden pro Woche annehmen.
  • In der Regel kann die Nebenbeschäftigung frühestens sechs Monate nach Beginn der Ausbildung bewilligt werden.
  • Die Bewilligungen für Ferienbeschäftigungen gelten nur für die ordentlichen Semesterferien. Es gibt keine Brancheneinschränkung und es kann bis zum Beschäftigungsumfang von 100 % gearbeitet werden. Eine selbständige Erwerbstätigkeit ist nicht möglich.

http://www.awa.zh.ch/internet/volksw...m_studium.html

The book royalties that you receive would be similar to interest and dividends and, while taxable in Switzerland, would not fall under a work permit requirement, imho.
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Old 20.07.2015, 19:16
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To be honest, if you're working from home and the money is going into a non-Swiss account, i'd just not mention it. It's more hassle than it's worth. Probably not the correct thing to do, but there we go. Getting permission to be self-employed on a student permit is bound to be a nightmare.
It goes to a non-swiss account. I just don't want to get in trouble. I will be filing taxes in my country of residence and I'm not sure if swiss authorities have the means to see my tax returns. Besides, it's not so much about the money, as I'd like to keep the blog going without having to jump through too many hoops to do so -- especially after my studies start. I'd like to earn the money if I can, because it will definitely help me financially.

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As Mirfeld mentions, a student can work up to 15 hours per week as Nebenbeschäftigung so long as the student has a valid Aufenthaltsbewilligung. However, a work permit approval normally can only be obtained six months after the studies have started. Self-employment is not permitted. See this Canton Zurich link for more details, specifically:

  • Während des Schulsemesters können Studenten eine bezahlte Nebenbeschäftigung von bis zu 15 Stunden pro Woche annehmen.
  • In der Regel kann die Nebenbeschäftigung frühestens sechs Monate nach Beginn der Ausbildung bewilligt werden.
  • Die Bewilligungen für Ferienbeschäftigungen gelten nur für die ordentlichen Semesterferien. Es gibt keine Brancheneinschränkung und es kann bis zum Beschäftigungsumfang von 100 % gearbeitet werden. Eine selbständige Erwerbstätigkeit ist nicht möglich.

http://www.awa.zh.ch/internet/volksw...m_studium.html

The book royalties that you receive would be similar to interest and dividends and, while taxable in Switzerland, would not fall under a work permit requirement, imho.
Thanks! That does help. Can Non-EU nationals work 15 hours with a valid Aufenthaltsbewilligung and without a work permit?

According to ETH,
During the semester, you are allowed to seek employment for a maximum of 15 hours per week. During the semester break, you can work up to 100%. In both cases, all international students will need a work permit. Please note that applying for a work permit is only possible once you have received your residence permit, which usually takes a couple of weeks.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 20.07.2015 at 19:55. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 20.07.2015, 20:05
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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To be honest, if you're working from home and the money is going into a non-Swiss account, i'd just not mention it. It's more hassle than it's worth. Probably not the correct thing to do, but there we go. Getting permission to be self-employed on a student permit is bound to be a nightmare.
Does not matter if it goes in a Swiss account or not, if you choose not to declare income you could choose not to declare your bank account, or have more than 1.
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Old 20.07.2015, 20:12
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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Eine selbständige Erwerbstätigkeit ist nicht möglich.
Self-employment is not possible.

About tax on foreign income sources of foreign students. There may be a double tax treaty with your home country, which makes them non-taxable in Switzerland. (At least it exists between the U.S. and Switzerland).
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Old 20.07.2015, 20:36
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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Self-employment is not possible.

About tax on foreign income sources of foreign students. There may be a double tax treaty with your home country, which makes them non-taxable in Switzerland. (At least it exists between the U.S. and Switzerland).
Yes, there is a double-taxation treaty between Swiss and my home country. Though I'm not sure if that means I pay taxes in my country of residence or home country.

Wow, so I can't run my blog from Switzerland? That's really bad.
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Old 20.07.2015, 22:40
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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Yes, there is a double-taxation treaty between Swiss and my home country. Though I'm not sure if that means I pay taxes in my country of residence or home country.

Wow, so I can't run my blog from Switzerland? That's really bad.
Most countries differentiate between physical residence and residence for tax purposes.

Depends of course on what the double taxation treaty between CH and your country says, but considering the fact that you are here on a student visa, I'm 99.9% sure your home country will consider you as their resident for tax purposes throughout your stay in CH.

This means that your global income (=regardless where it is generated) will be taxed in your home country. For your income generated in CH you would probably pay withholding tax in CH and the difference to the normal income tax rate in your home country.

Hope this helps...

P.S: I'm a tax counsel
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Old 21.07.2015, 09:24
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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Most countries differentiate between physical residence and residence for tax purposes.

Depends of course on what the double taxation treaty between CH and your country says, but considering the fact that you are here on a student visa, I'm 99.9% sure your home country will consider you as their resident for tax purposes throughout your stay in CH.

This means that your global income (=regardless where it is generated) will be taxed in your home country. For your income generated in CH you would probably pay withholding tax in CH and the difference to the normal income tax rate in your home country.

Hope this helps...

P.S: I'm a tax counsel
So if I don't declare it in Swiss, I won't really be avoiding taxes? I already pay 30% withholding in US. I'm earning it in the US, so therefore Swiss can't ask me to pay withholding. As for the difference, I pay 30% on my net in my home country, because the 30% bracket is about $18k and above. At the very least, 20%, which is probably more than taxes I'd incur by swiss tax laws.
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Old 21.07.2015, 09:52
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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So if I don't declare it in Swiss, I won't really be avoiding taxes? I already pay 30% withholding in US. I'm earning it in the US, so therefore Swiss can't ask me to pay withholding. As for the difference, I pay 30% on my net in my home country, because the 30% bracket is about $18k and above. At the very least, 20%, which is probably more than taxes I'd incur by swiss tax laws.
So you earn your income in the US, where you pay withholding tax and you pay the difference in your home country?

If this is indeed the case, and considering the fact that you are here on a student visa, this income has nothing to do with CH and they won't care about it. If you want to be 100% sure, I'd suggest you ask the fiscal authorities in your home country to issue a "Certificate of Tax Residence". The wording is different from country to country, but it usually contains at least the following:

"PERSON is considered tax resident of COUNTRY under art. 4 (I assume) of the Swiss-COUNTRY tax treaty as of DATE and his income is subject to unlimited taxation in COUNTRY as of that date."

If you get this, you'll know for sure that your home country considers you their resident for tax purposes and ONLY the income you earn IN CH will be subject to withholding tax in CH, which has to be deducted by your employer anyway (not my field of expertize, but as others have pointed out, self-employment is not possible on a student visa). You can submit a tax return only after you have been living in CH for 5 years.
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Old 21.07.2015, 11:11
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

Thanks! That is very thorough.

I incur a 30% flat tax in the US and I usually paid 20% on my net, with investments. I actually wasn't aware that I need to pay the difference only, so I'll look into that.

I'll also look into the double-taxation treaty too. Just so I understand, I won't pay any taxes for the next 5 years? -- Like I won't even have to fill in any forms or anything? That sounds really cool. Does it apply to all non-resident taxpayers? And that wouldn't mess with my residence-permit, which I'll have to apply for again a year from now?
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Old 21.07.2015, 11:38
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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I incur a 30% flat tax in the US and I usually paid 20% on my net, with investments. I actually wasn't aware that I need to pay the difference only, so I'll look into that.
That depends on the tax treaty between your home country and the US. Maybe there is no double taxation treaty at all...

Quote:
I'll also look into the double-taxation treaty too. Just so I understand, I won't pay any taxes for the next 5 years? -- Like I won't even have to fill in any forms or anything? That sounds really cool. Does it apply to all non-resident taxpayers? And that wouldn't mess with my residence-permit, which I'll have to apply for again a year from now?
No, it doesn't mean you won't pay taxes for the first 5 years, it just means that it is your employer's responsibility to collect the withholding tax on your income in CH for the first 5 years.

Why don't you ask the university for advice regarding the work you are allowed to do while on a student visa? Most universities are more than happy to advise visiting students and they are always up to date with information.
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Old 21.07.2015, 11:52
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

You have to declare a wealth tax here, not what income you generate overseas. If you have an apartment in the US and rent it out, you have to pay an income tax over there, here you need to declare the value of the property or the savings you have and pay a wealth tax. However as you are on a student visa, I would probably say don't worry about declaring anything you have overseas, it just complicates everything as you already have to pay tax in the US (so I have heard) and here in Switzerland on your income in Switzerland.
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Old 21.07.2015, 12:00
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

There Swiss Federal Tax Administration has a detailed information sheet that discusses Swiss source tax, tax treaties by country and their impact on foreign students working in Switzerland. Go to this link:

http://www.estv.admin.ch/bundessteue...ex.html?lang=4


2-103-D-2013-d (PDF) vom 07.02.2013

Quellenbesteuerung von
- Hypothekarzinsen an Personen ohne Wohnsitz oder Aufenthalt in der Schweiz
- Künstlern, Sportlern und Referenten (DBA-Übersicht)
- öffentlich-rechtlichen Vorsorgeleistungen (DBA-Übersicht)
- privatrechtlichen Vorsorgeleistungen und Leistungen aus anerkannten Formen der gebundenen Selbstvorsorge (DBA-Übersicht)
- Erwerbseinkünften ausländischer Studenten (S), Lehrlinge (L) und Praktikanten (P) (DBA-Übersicht)

p. 10 for German and p. 11 for French.
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Old 21.07.2015, 12:12
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

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Most countries differentiate between physical residence and residence for tax purposes.

This means that your global income (=regardless where it is generated) will be taxed in your home country.

P.S: I'm a tax counsel
Very few countries are able to tax non residents, USA is the exception rather than the rule.

Well not all countries charge tax to everyone on world wide income, so your knowledge of world wide taxation is somewhat limited for a 'tax counsel' whatever that is supposed to mean. Luckily I did not ask you for advise

Switzerland, UK, Ireland & Malta have flexible arrangements for foreigner 'non Doms' is the term used in the UK. Probably many more countries do as well.

Last edited by fatmanfilms; 21.07.2015 at 12:26.
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Old 21.07.2015, 12:17
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Re: Can someone please help me understand illegal employment laws in Zurich?

Is there a tax consultant that actually knows the Swiss tax law.
For ex. Art. 3 Abs. 4 of the Bundesgesetz über die direkte Bundessteuer ? Anyone, Buehler, anyone?

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