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View Poll Results: Have you got a business are interested in how to do things here or save (avoid) tax?
Would like to have a business but boy don't know where to start 151 39.32%
Am a contractor but my pimps are asking me to bend over and hold my ankles every month 25 6.51%
I am a freelancer doing it myself (so to speak) and want to know more 102 26.56%
I have my own legally structured company and don't like paying so much to everybody 50 13.02%
I am employed but am always interested in any way to reduce tax 49 12.76%
I think this is a waste of breath you oxygen thief 7 1.82%
Voters: 384. You may not vote on this poll

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  #101  
Old 25.11.2007, 21:47
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Hello. Thank you all for all this great information. However, I am a bit overwhelmed. I think I need some more basic info. I am a tech-writer and I want to start freelancing. I haven't gotten any contracts yet, however, I think I may have one soon. Do I have to have a company before I find work? Or is my case one of the "soletrader" that Richard wrote about in thread #15?
In your circumstances you can choose to form your own company or work as a sole trader. Note if the latter you will need to register with the AHV as self employed...
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  #102  
Old 25.11.2007, 21:49
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Richard why do we have to fillout the us tax forum when in swiss? and i know the swiss govt. will give us back 90% for are taxs if make more thin 200000. just a QQQQ dekrim
To be honest I have no idea why the American government believes it has a right to tax its foreign domiciled citizens... Its just part of the joys of being an American...
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  #103  
Old 25.11.2007, 23:39
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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In your circumstances you can choose to form your own company or work as a sole trader. Note if the latter you will need to register with the AHV as self employed...
Google Uncle bought me to a very nice thread! Just finished reading all the posts. Lot of good advice. Lot of it went over my head though.

I am in my first year as self-employed (EU citizen with C permit). I am registered with the AHV as self employed. Their letter says that my official status is "Selbstaendig Erwerbende (R) Im Hauptwerb".

I will categories my questions so it's easier to answer them

1- Does "Selbstaendig Erwerbende (R) Im Hauptwerb" = sole trader?
What does the (R) mean? Actually what does the whole phrase mean apart from the literal translation?

2- I run my business from home. I live in a 3 room flat. One room is dedicated to my business. What % of rent, electricity, heating costs can I deduct towards business costs? Do I divide total rent costs by 3 and use that as deduction for business costs?

Can I apply same reasoning to home insurance costs (divide by 3)? Zurich insurance knows that I run my business from home and because my business involves brain power rather than any complicated machines they insured me under normal home insurance.

3- How do I deduct travel costs? I have a yearly pass which covers all my business travel. I use the pass for private travel as well. Can I just lump the yearly pass cost with business costs?

4- Can my status as self-employed be cancelled if I make loss for few years? For example if for first 2-3 years I make 100k but my outgoing costs are 101k? So a loss of 1k. What happens to my status? Should I not deduct some costs so as to bring the business from red to black?

The AHV booklet says that "Für Jahreseinkommen von weniger als 51,600 Franken gilt ein tieferer AHV-, IV- EO - Beitragssatz; die Beiträge werden in solchen Fällen nach folgenden berechnet:

Then there is a table-

Jährliches Erwerbseinkommen in Franken von mindestens
8500

aber weniger als
15900

AHV/IV/EO-Beitragssatz

in Prozenten des Erwerbseinkommens

5,166

Do I pay the minimum AHV contribution or they say that my status as self-employed is cancelled?
That should do it for now
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  #104  
Old 25.11.2007, 23:51
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

I meant "brought" and not "bought". Please ignore the mistakes. My mum will be dissapointed he he he.
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  #105  
Old 30.11.2007, 13:25
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

Some interesting questions...

1- Does "Selbstaendig Erwerbende (R) Im Hauptwerb" = sole trader?
What does the (R) mean? Actually what does the whole phrase mean apart from the literal translation? Sometimes things don't translate. Selbstaendig Erwerbende is basically saying an independent freelancer but it can't be anything else can it. So sole trader where this is the main occupation R as far as I know is Registriert.

2- I run my business from home. I live in a 3 room flat. One room is dedicated to my business. What % of rent, electricity, heating costs can I deduct towards business costs? Do I divide total rent costs by 3 and use that as deduction for business costs?

Ah this can be tricky. Seeing as you rent the accommodation you probably won't be able to do this at all... If you can you need to have the local commune redefine the part that is used for your business as Gewerbliche and you then pay the rent and associated costs for that based on the number of m2 you have. It is not easy though...

Can I apply same reasoning to home insurance costs (divide by 3)? Zurich insurance knows that I run my business from home and because my business involves brain power rather than any complicated machines they insured me under normal home insurance.

Same applies here you can try but it will be probably rejected...


3- How do I deduct travel costs? I have a yearly pass which covers all my business travel. I use the pass for private travel as well. Can I just lump the yearly pass cost with business costs?

Yes you can. However if you are not making trips to customers they will bring this into question. That the pass has a private usage is normally irrelevant as it is very likely to be the cheapest method of travel so they are happy to promote it.


4- Can my status as self-employed be cancelled if I make loss for few years? For example if for first 2-3 years I make 100k but my outgoing costs are 101k? So a loss of 1k. What happens to my status? Should I not deduct some costs so as to bring the business from red to black?

If you are working as a freelancer and are making a loss then you have nothing to live on so this situation will sort itself out. Do note with a sole trader there is no separation of monies so the money you pay yourself is effectively what is left over after deductions...

The AHV booklet says that "Für Jahreseinkommen von weniger als 51,600 Franken gilt ein tieferer AHV-, IV- EO - Beitragssatz; die Beiträge werden in solchen Fällen nach folgenden berechnet:

Then there is a table-

Jährliches Erwerbseinkommen in Franken von mindestens
8500

aber weniger als
15900

AHV/IV/EO-Beitragssatz

in Prozenten des Erwerbseinkommens

5,166

Do I pay the minimum AHV contribution or they say that my status as self-employed is cancelled?

You need to pay the minimum contribution.
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  #106  
Old 30.11.2007, 13:48
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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The true voluntary tax efficiency part is however the 3rd pillar...
hmmmm 3rd pillar, tax efficiency....
can you explain a bit how that works? I'm always interested in being tax efficient
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  #107  
Old 19.12.2007, 23:49
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

Hello to you Richard and thanks so much for all the info, it is really so well explained and very helpful :-)

I have some questions to which I did not seem to find answers in this thread:

1) My husband and I would like to start a Gmbh whilst maintaining our full time jobs. Aprt from it being most likely a suicide mission in terms of work life balance, since we are both having AVS and 2nd pillar contribution from our employers, do we need to also have this from the Gmbh or can we simply work there as the 2 owners and not do anything about AVS and 2nd pillar?

2) I saw your answer about running the business from home. What shall we do then?
a) Run it from home without saying anything (and thus I guess not deduct any costs)
b) Have a postal box somewhere?
What are the type of solutions possible?
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I run my business from home. I live in a 3 room flat. One room is dedicated to my business. What % of rent, electricity, heating costs can I deduct towards business costs? Do I divide total rent costs by 3 and use that as deduction for business costs?

Ah this can be tricky. Seeing as you rent the accommodation you probably won't be able to do this at all... If you can you need to have the local commune redefine the part that is used for your business as Gewerbliche and you then pay the rent and associated costs for that based on the number of m2 you have. It is not easy though...
Thanks in advance for help on this :-)

Cheers,
Cristina
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  #108  
Old 19.12.2007, 23:59
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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1) My husband and I would like to start a Gmbh whilst maintaining our full time jobs. Aprt from it being most likely a suicide mission in terms of work life balance, since we are both having AVS and 2nd pillar contribution from our employers, do we need to also have this from the Gmbh or can we simply work there as the 2 owners and not do anything about AVS and 2nd pillar?

you can run the business and not actually receive salary from it. Then you don't have to pay any social insurance burden. You can declare many things as your company expenses: fuel, meals, telephone, IT infrastructure etc. and compensate them from your company account. These amounts will be non-taxable. Besides, you get 7.6% VAT back from your business expenses (you need to register for the VAT number before that).

As soon as you get paid from your GmbH for anything else but company expenses, you have to pay the social insurance, including the second pillar. There are exceptions from this rule for small amounts, I can't remember the exact sum - something like few hundred francs per month.

Last edited by foreverstudent; 20.12.2007 at 00:10.
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  #109  
Old 20.12.2007, 00:05
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

1. Yes, you can have a GmbH without employees. Be careful also what your employment contract with your current employer says. Many contracts have non-competition clauses and the like. 2. Even if you have a PO Box, your company still has to have a physical domicile and this has to be stated in the Statutes. Now, I've never heard that it should be a problem to have a GmbH domiciled in your own rented apartment as long as it is "Stilles Gewerbe" but I may be wrong here. What you may have to do though is that you as holder of the rental contract has to confirm that you accept the domicile of the company at your address.
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Hello to you Richard and thanks so much for all the info, it is really so well explained and very helpful :-)

I have some questions to which I did not seem to find answers in this thread:

1) My husband and I would like to start a Gmbh whilst maintaining our full time jobs. Aprt from it being most likely a suicide mission in terms of work life balance, since we are both having AVS and 2nd pillar contribution from our employers, do we need to also have this from the Gmbh or can we simply work there as the 2 owners and not do anything about AVS and 2nd pillar?

2) I saw your answer about running the business from home. What shall we do then?
a) Run it from home without saying anything (and thus I guess not deduct any costs)
b) Have a postal box somewhere?
What are the type of solutions possible?


Thanks in advance for help on this :-)

Cheers,
Cristina
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  #110  
Old 20.12.2007, 09:03
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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you can run the business and not actually receive salary from it. Then you don't have to pay any social insurance burden.
Thanks for the reply. This means that we do not have to open a AVS account nor set up a second pillar until we actually pay out salaries? Or do we need to do it anyway but then just not use them?

Cheers,
Cristina
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  #111  
Old 20.12.2007, 09:06
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Besides, you get 7.6% VAT back from your business expenses (you need to register for the VAT number before that).
Thanks also for this ... some questions:
1) If our income is less than 100.000 CHF "generated in CH" I read we do not have to have a VAT account.

Now, what is the deal if you sell via th einternet to people located outside of Switzerland?

Secondly, if I rememeber correctly from accounting classes, the VAT is not actually something you get back but rather you keep a log of VAT operations which sort of balaces out, right?

Cheers,
Cristina
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  #112  
Old 20.12.2007, 09:19
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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This means that we do not have to open a AVS account nor set up a second pillar until we actually pay out salaries? Or do we need to do it anyway but then just not use them?

I'm afraid this is a question for a professional (paid) accountant. You will need one anyway

Why don't you grab Richard to be your trustee and accountant? Also I can recommend my accountant in Dübendorf if this location is better for you
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  #113  
Old 20.12.2007, 09:24
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Thanks also for this ... some questions:
1) If our income is less than 100.000 CHF "generated in CH" I read we do not have to have a VAT account.

Now, what is the deal if you sell via th einternet to people located outside of Switzerland?

Secondly, if I rememeber correctly from accounting classes, the VAT is not actually something you get back but rather you keep a log of VAT operations which sort of balaces out, right?

VAT account is something you benefit from, so it's the authorities who may decline your VAT account application.

If you have one, then yes, you keep some amount of VAT that you get from your clients.

When you sell your services abroad, you charge 0% VAT.

I don't know much more, I only started my business recently
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  #114  
Old 20.12.2007, 11:48
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Hello to you Richard and thanks so much for all the info, it is really so well explained and very helpful :-)

I have some questions to which I did not seem to find answers in this thread:

1) My husband and I would like to start a Gmbh whilst maintaining our full time jobs. Aprt from it being most likely a suicide mission in terms of work life balance, since we are both having AVS and 2nd pillar contribution from our employers, do we need to also have this from the Gmbh or can we simply work there as the 2 owners and not do anything about AVS and 2nd pillar?

2) I saw your answer about running the business from home. What shall we do then?
a) Run it from home without saying anything (and thus I guess not deduct any costs)
b) Have a postal box somewhere?
What are the type of solutions possible?


Thanks in advance for help on this :-)

Cheers,
Cristina
Hi Cristina,

Yours is a common situation and most businesses start this way. There are however things you need to look out for, maybe which you have not thought of.

When you form your own company as a GmbH your details are published. With the publishing of details your employer can find out you are a director there. Many work contracts prohibit directorships without prior approval - for obvious reasons...

It is entirely possible to start a business without informing anybody (as long as you are entitled to do it ie Swiss/EU17) although it would be sensible to have a business bank account, however, if you do this then any profit will show as personal income and you will be liable for AHV on that income. Additionally you need to be aware that taking things such as meals will be counted as income if they are regular. The only meals you can take without it being seen as income are irregular business meals.

Your second pillar is only relevant when you are working for a company. As self employed this does not apply.

Domiciling a business at a rented for living accommodation is often excluded in the small print of your rental contract. Not always but often so you will need to check this. It will not be explicit as in keine Geschäfte hier but it might well be there. You also, need to think about whether you want to put your business in a location that is outside of your control. By that I mean the landlord could ask you to leave and then you would be in the situation of needing to change your statuten - not a problem but work and cost associated with it. Also there is a difference between working from home and having a business registered at your home address...

You can rent a post box from a solicitor in Zug - it would then be an address but not from the post office as this is then virtual and not physical.

Insurances: When you are working for yourself as a sole trader you can do more or less what you want as far as insurances are concerned. When you are a company then you are obliged to provide minimum insurances for your employees. Your argument will be there are no employees but there are - just they receive no remuneration. As soon as there is an income to one of the employees then the obligation exists.

As to possible models

Sole trader:
pros: simple to do, cheap, no need to worry about BVG
cons: Any profit is subject to tax and ahv from the outset. No splitting of monies.

GmbH/AG
pros: Splitting of money, enhanced reputation, no need to get paid
cons: Cost, formal structure, insurance necessity, potential problem findiny a business domicile.

Ltd Company - ie a foreign registered company.
This is an entirely different approach and is very dependent on what your business model looks like.
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  #115  
Old 20.12.2007, 12:24
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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VAT account is something you benefit from, so it's the authorities who may decline your VAT account application.

If you have one, then yes, you keep some amount of VAT that you get from your clients.

When you sell your services abroad, you charge 0% VAT.

I don't know much more, I only started my business recently
VAT accounting is swings and roundabouts as to whether it is a benefit or a pain in the ****.

If you are going to have a large part of your income coming from abroad then MwSt is a distinct advantage.

Once over an annual turnover of 75K you are entitled indeed required to charge and claim VAT but can apply for an exception to not do this until you are over 150K in which case you must.

There are two types of VAT system you can work under one is literal and the other pauschal.

With the literal system you need to keep every receipt and every invoice and then make a quarterly statement with claim or payment.

with the pauschal system you pay a fixed percentage (up to 6%) on your turnover so if your turnover is 100K then you pay 6K MwSt. And you do this every 6 months...

When you make your decision which model to choose then you are fixed with that model for the next 5 years with only a few exceptions...

Last edited by Richard; 20.12.2007 at 12:39.
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  #116  
Old 20.12.2007, 12:32
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

Work out your likely level of expenses as a proportion of your turnover, to work out the breakeven point in order to decide whether you go for the actuals or 6% fixed.

If the numbers look good then remember also that paying 6% flat is far easier to calculate then going through each scrap of paper for MWst every 3 or 6 months.

Note the 5 year period too. You cant just change method when you see some large reclaim on the horizon...

dave

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with the pauschal system you pay a fixed percentage (up to 6%) on your turnover so if your turnover is 100K then you pay 6K MwSt.

When you make your decision which model to choose then you are fixed with that model for the next 5 years with only a few exceptions...
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  #117  
Old 20.12.2007, 12:53
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Work out your likely level of expenses as a proportion of your turnover, to work out the breakeven point in order to decide whether you go for the actuals or 6% fixed.

If the numbers look good then remember also that paying 6% flat is far easier to calculate then going through each scrap of paper for MWst every 3 or 6 months.

Note the 5 year period too. You cant just change method when you see some large reclaim on the horizon...

dave
I actually did promise to write a section on VAT as this is quite complicated and there is lots people should know and probably don't. Maybe I can get round to doing it sometime soon...
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  #118  
Old 21.12.2007, 10:22
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

Hello Richard, thanks for the answers which have now sparked more questions

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When you form your own company as a GmbH your details are published. With the publishing of details your employer can find out you are a director there. Many work contracts prohibit directorships without prior approval - for obvious reasons...
On this one we are fine as I simply cannot do something which represents a confict of interest and my husband has to let his company know.

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Your second pillar is only relevant when you are working for a company. As self employed this does not apply.
Ok, so until we have employees, we can not do anything on this one.

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Domiciling a business at a rented for living accommodation is often excluded in the small print of your rental contract. Not always but often so you will need to check this. It will not be explicit as in keine Geschäfte hier but it might well be there. You also, need to think about whether you want to put your business in a location that is outside of your control. By that I mean the landlord could ask you to leave and then you would be in the situation of needing to change your statuten - not a problem but work and cost associated with it. Also there is a difference between working from home and having a business registered at your home address...

You can rent a post box from a solicitor in Zug - it would then be an address but not from the post office as this is then virtual and not physical.
What would happen if we do it without telling the landlord?
Would you have a link to the oslicitors in Zug who offer this service? I owuld like to find out how much it costs as I fully see the benefit of not changing address of a company everytime you move... which in our case seems to happen quite regularly for one reason or another...

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Insurances: When you are a company then you are obliged to provide minimum insurances for your employees. Your argument will be there are no employees but there are - just they receive no remuneration. As soon as there is an income to one of the employees then the obligation exists.
Ok, but if we have no employees, and only us as owners working, we can skip this? As we will be provding a service over the internet, I also do not see applicability of the RC...

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As to possible models

Sole trader:
pros: simple to do, cheap, no need to worry about BVG
cons: Any profit is subject to tax and ahv from the outset. No splitting of monies.

GmbH/AG
pros: Splitting of money, enhanced reputation, no need to get paid
cons: Cost, formal structure, insurance necessity, potential problem findiny a business domicile.

Ltd Company - ie a foreign registered company.
This is an entirely different approach and is very dependent on what your business model looks like.
Seems like Gmbh is the best bet at the moment :-)

IS it worth using a company like netnotar.ch or launchswiss.ch? Their services seem worth the price but would like to have some advice.

Richard, thanks so much for all the help.... You can indeed charge for this so do tell when you have had enough of providing free advice!

Have a good day
Cristina
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  #119  
Old 21.12.2007, 12:11
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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Ok, so until we have employees, we can not do anything on this one.

What would happen if we do it without telling the landlord?

Would you have a link to the oslicitors in Zug who offer this service? I owuld like to find out how much it costs as I fully see the benefit of not changing address of a company everytime you move... which in our case seems to happen quite regularly for one reason or another...
Ok, but if we have no employees, and only us as owners working, we can skip this? As we will be provding a service over the internet, I also do not see applicability of the RC...

Seems like Gmbh is the best bet at the moment :-)

IS it worth using a company like netnotar.ch or launchswiss.ch? Their services seem worth the price but would like to have some advice.

Richard, thanks so much for all the help.... You can indeed charge for this so do tell when you have had enough of providing free advice!

Have a good day
Cristina
Pension scheme. This really depends on what you want to do with it. But basically IF (large) someone, anyone receives money over CHF 26520 you must have a pension fund for them. Under that AHV deals with it.

With respect to the location of your business at your rented address, you have to produce statuten. They need to be signed off by a notar. One of the jobs of the Notar is to check that the location actually exists. When they do this they **should** check that you are the owner or that you have permission from the owner to open a business there.

Link to Anwälte no but I can find out in a few days...

If you are providing a service of the internet then you should be looking at what kind of business this is, and when and if employees will venture onto the scene. If they will never venture onto the scene then your business model should look forward to the point where one of you will stop working and work for the business officially. At this point you need to start thinking about more complicated structures(tax optimization) and the associated insurances etc.

If you are both working you are quite correct. However... You will have one small problem and I would have to think hard how you get around this. You will need to write statuten and you will need to have your books checked by a bookkeeper. If you are actually doing some trading, who is doing the work? And if someone is doing the work, what are they being paid for the work they are doing. How this works I am not sure it is not something you come across so often...

As far as a notar is concerned you should get the advice before dealing with the notar step. Note though I paid for my last company CHF 1800 including entry in the company register. That equates more or less to CHF 1200 when compared to the prices used by netnotar. I did write my own statutes etc but the notar made a couple of minor changes and created these nicely bound and dealt with everything else. So given the personal touch and the ability to play dumb and ask questions I would consult a local notar. You never know when you might need them again.

I think that somewhere in this thread there are reasonable instructions on how to go about forming a GmbH and I think I provided a sample statuten - might be wrong there. So if you actually have read it all and still have questions then let me know and I will answer them.
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Old 21.12.2007, 13:46
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Re: Help for Businesses/Freelancers in CH

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If you are providing a service of the internet then you should be looking at what kind of business this is, and when and if employees will venture onto the scene. If they will never venture onto the scene then your business model should look forward to the point where one of you will stop working and work for the business officially. At this point you need to start thinking about more complicated structures(tax optimization) and the associated insurances etc.
Yes, that is what we would like to achieve, ideally getting the business off the gorund and then I will do that full time. At that point, best scenario a year or so, we will need to rethink and probably come here with a new series of questions

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If you are both working you are quite correct. However... You will have one small problem and I would have to think hard how you get around this. You will need to write statuten and you will need to have your books checked by a bookkeeper. If you are actually doing some trading, who is doing the work? And if someone is doing the work, what are they being paid for the work they are doing. How this works I am not sure it is not something you come across so often...
We will not trade. We will set up a site where people can buy a service that they will themselves manage. Our work will be maintaining the website and accounting. No trading. (cannot go in more details here for obvious reasons )
This we would do outside work hours. Can we be the owners and do this or do we need to be employed?

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As far as a notar is concerned you should get the advice before dealing with the notar step. Note though I paid for my last company CHF 1800 including entry in the company register. That equates more or less to CHF 1200 when compared to the prices used by netnotar. I did write my own statutes etc but the notar made a couple of minor changes and created these nicely bound and dealt with everything else. So given the personal touch and the ability to play dumb and ask questions I would consult a local notar. You never know when you might need them again..
Would you have one to suggest? maybe one who even speaks english?

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I think that somewhere in this thread there are reasonable instructions on how to go about forming a GmbH and I think I provided a sample statuten - might be wrong there. So if you actually have read it all and still have questions then let me know and I will answer them.
Will have another look and let you know in case.

Your help has been really really valuable... thanks so so much!

Cristina
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