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Old 28.09.2015, 01:52
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Slowly coming over

Hello!

I've been to the forums a zillion times over the last few years. There's so much excellent information here.

A little bit about me. Right now I'm preparing for an eventual move to Switzerland. See, I've been dating this Swiss guy for almost 8 years, and he wants to go home. Unfortunately I've got a complicated tax situation. We tried to make Germany work, thinking that would be a gentle intermediate step (plus he got a job there, lol), but I'm one of the few Americans who can't escape double taxation due to the nature of my income, so we've been racking up a lot of frequent flyer miles. Let me tell you, long distance sucks after having lived together for 5 years. Numerous professionals have been consulted, and unless they're all missing something I'm just screwed. Whoever came up with CBT is the scummiest scum of the universe, and I do feel like a tax hostage in the US. Sometimes I get so angry, then depressed, then numb... then angry again. Either I lose 80% of my income to taxes or I retire (very, very) early. Not an easy decision for someone who loves her work.

The good news is that I've spent a lot of time in Switzerland and absolutely love the country and the people. At least all this is to get to a lovely part of the world! And maybe I'll get lucky and the Swiss rules will be more favorable than the German rules. (Though why would they? It's the US who is being unreasonable.)

I've got a bunch of little questions related to marriage and living in different countries, and timing, and looking for a good tax planning person, but I'll first spend a few days nosing around the forums and catching up on the latest developments.

Looking forward to getting to know you all better!
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Old 28.09.2015, 02:27
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Re: Slowly coming over

One of the most interesting intros ever. Thanks and welcome to the gang.

I'm not able to help you, although I'm in a similar situation but exactly the other way round. Transatlantic commuter, the little missus being firmly settled in the USA and me being the more mobile part.

I wish you all the best. I'm sure we have some members that can advise you.
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Old 28.09.2015, 03:23
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Re: Slowly coming over

Aww, cute dog!

Thanks for the welcome. I guess I explained too much, lol, but I figure I can cut and paste into later queries, lol.

Ah, yes, you're in a very similar situation. I guess you know all about guilt and feeling a bit unrooted. It's not easy being apart from the ones we love. Thank goodness for Skype!
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Old 28.09.2015, 08:43
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Re: Slowly coming over

Welcome to the forum, but I'm afraid you'll find the same situation or worse here. After all the Swiss banks have been screwed over by the US courts so they're even more touchy about taking on Americans these days. You'll need to sign a W-9 form to open any account - as will your boyfriend if you hold joint accounts - to allow said bank to pass your account info on to the IRS and you'll also need to file a FBAR form if said account/s comes to more than the aggregate figure of $10,000 at any time of the year. Start your US filing requirements research here:

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inter...g-Requirements

Very few banks will take American clients these days, but this site may help.

http://www.americanswelcome.ch/

UBS may also take you on, even though they're not listed.

Understand that there are only two ways you can get permission to live/work here.

1) get a job offer that has been approved by the Swiss authorities. This is difficult for non-EU nationals as employers have to prove they can't find a Swiss/EU national who could do the job as outlined here:

https://www.bfm.admin.ch/bfm/en/home...zulassung.html

2) Your boyfriend applies for a concubine permit for you. If he does this he'll need to agree to financially support you for 5 years. Here's a current thread on the subject.

Hong Kong citizen working in ZH

If your boyfriend has a job in Germany and isn't living in Switzerland then you would not be able to move here unless you get a job here.
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Old 28.09.2015, 09:43
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Re: Slowly coming over

Hi PetZombie!

I don't suppose you have or are entitled to a citizenship other than US? If you are you can renounce your US citizenship and with it any tax obligations... many people are doing this.

If not, if you marry your Swiss boyfriend, after 5-6 years depending on where you are living, you can apply for Swiss citizenship, then you could renounce.
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Old 28.09.2015, 10:05
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Re: Slowly coming over

Life is short, renounce...red passport is where its at

Bienvenue
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Old 28.09.2015, 10:34
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Re: Slowly coming over

As a non-EU/EFTA citizen and not married to your Swiss boyfriend, Switzerland will generally not allow you to live here. Germany is more advantageous for Americans in that Americans can move there without a job and then register within 90 days. See this link for more information:

http://www.toytowngermany.com/wiki/A...e_arrived_here
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Old 10.12.2015, 22:30
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Re: Slowly coming over

Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome and sharing the very useful thoughts. Sometimes the smallest observation can make a world of difference.

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Hi PetZombie!

I don't suppose you have or are entitled to a citizenship other than US? If you are you can renounce your US citizenship and with it any tax obligations... many people are doing this.

If not, if you marry your Swiss boyfriend, after 5-6 years depending on where you are living, you can apply for Swiss citizenship, then you could renounce.
Hi! Sadly, no second passport, and I don't qualify for anywhere but la-la land, where I could be president. If only we'd gotten married years ago, like normal people.

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Life is short, renounce...red passport is where its at

Bienvenue
Ha! I see your point. I don't think I'd renounce to avoid taxes, but I could see myself leaving for other reasons. Red is a nice passport color. Easier to find in a dark bag.

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Very few banks will take American clients these days, but this site may help.

http://www.americanswelcome.ch/

UBS may also take you on, even though they're not listed.

[...]

2) Your boyfriend applies for a concubine permit for you. If he does this he'll need to agree to financially support you for 5 years. Here's a current thread on the subject.

Hong Kong citizen working in ZH

If your boyfriend has a job in Germany and isn't living in Switzerland then you would not be able to move here unless you get a job here.
Fantastic links. Thank you! They'll all come in handy. Concubine permit? Oh, my. Sounds so... scandalous. I'm in a strange place, job-wise, as I'm a species of digital artist and can do the work from anywhere in the world, so long as I have a laptop and WiFi.

Whenever I try to make sense of the rules for self-employed, I end up more confused. I vaguely understand the rules for people who need to go out and procure clients, but there's a second set of rules for artists? If you have links on that subject handy, I'd be interested in seeing them. Are certain cantons known to be more artist-friendly?

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As a non-EU/EFTA citizen and not married to your Swiss boyfriend, Switzerland will generally not allow you to live here. Germany is more advantageous for Americans in that Americans can move there without a job and then register within 90 days.
That was one of the things that was appealing about Germany, right until we realized what the tax situation would actually be, and the lower salaries. That's good to know about not being able to stay in Switzerland if he's elsewhere. We'd considered it earlier in the year, back before we got fed up with living apart. Thanks to you and Medea, we can definitively cross it off the list.
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Old 10.12.2015, 22:51
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Re: Slowly coming over

The problem is you can't effectively be self-employed. It's very difficult for non-EU nationals to set up in business here because even if you started a company, GmbH/Sarl, etc, it would need to prove that it can't find a Swiss/EU national to do your job. The fact that you own the company doesn't give you the right to live or work here.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...zulassung.html

Marriage would be the easiest option for a Swiss permit, but citizenship would still be some years down the road.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...uergerung.html

And of course you still have the US tax situation, which in some ways could be worse unless you keep all your accounts, etc, completely separate - otherwise his income/assets get dragged into it as well.

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inte...-Aliens-Abroad

and it will be the same no matter which country you try and move to I'm afraid. Until the US gets rid of citizen based taxation Americans will have to continue to file and possibly pay US tax with renunciation/relinquishment is the only legal way out.

Are you sure there's no nationality by descent that you could claim? Some countries go back to grand and great-grand parents. It wouldn't get you out of the tax situation, but if it's an EU nationality it would certainly help on the permit side.
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Old 10.12.2015, 23:28
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Re: Slowly coming over

Yes, filing W9/1040/FBAR is a huge hassle, but the fact is with the current generous foreign earned income exclusion plus deductions you would need to earn well over 100K a year to reach an income where you are required to pay US income tax. They just want you to fill out the tax forms to prove it.
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Old 11.12.2015, 00:03
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Re: Slowly coming over

Thanks for your thoughts, Medea. I think I must have substituted the German artist situation for the Swiss rules. (There should be an easy way to delete unneeded information from the brain.) I'll see if my grandmother was registered with Ireland at her birth, but it's a long shot.

I just read the links. So I would have to form the company, then prove that I'm the only one who can do my job in order for my company to hire me. Actually, I'd love to find someone who can do my work. Then I could have a life again. Or double my income. So if it's decided that a Swiss can do the job, will the authorities provide this qualified employee as proof...? That's a great deal!

My boyfriend and I are planning on getting married. I really dislike that my career depends on my romantic decisions, and I would prefer that these things be separate, but that's how it goes. We're trying to be smart about it, with good timing, choosing the right city, etc. Also trying to anticipate all the unexpected land mines. Thanks for pointing out so many of them.

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The problem is you can't effectively be self-employed. It's very difficult for non-EU nationals to set up in business here because even if you started a company, GmbH/Sarl, etc, it would need to prove that it can't find a Swiss/EU national to do your job. The fact that you own the company doesn't give you the right to live or work here.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...zulassung.html

Marriage would be the easiest option for a Swiss permit, but citizenship would still be some years down the road.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...uergerung.html

And of course you still have the US tax situation, which in some ways could be worse unless you keep all your accounts, etc, completely separate - otherwise his income/assets get dragged into it as well.

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inte...-Aliens-Abroad

and it will be the same no matter which country you try and move to I'm afraid. Until the US gets rid of citizen based taxation Americans will have to continue to file and possibly pay US tax with renunciation/relinquishment is the only legal way out.

Are you sure there's no nationality by descent that you could claim? Some countries go back to grand and great-grand parents. It wouldn't get you out of the tax situation, but if it's an EU nationality it would certainly help on the permit side.
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Old 11.12.2015, 00:24
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Re: Slowly coming over

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Yes, filing W9/1040/FBAR is a huge hassle, but the fact is with the current generous foreign earned income exclusion plus deductions you would need to earn well over 100K a year to reach an income where you are required to pay US income tax. They just want you to fill out the tax forms to prove it.
Hi Karl. That's a good point about the tax credit. At least the government does that for us. It doesn't help me, but it's true that a percentage of expats won't owe anything - after they get done pulling out their hair trying to fill out the forms.
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Old 11.12.2015, 08:30
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Re: Slowly coming over

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I just read the links. So I would have to form the company, then prove that I'm the only one who can do my job in order for my company to hire me. Actually, I'd love to find someone who can do my work. Then I could have a life again. Or double my income. So if it's decided that a Swiss can do the job, will the authorities provide this qualified employee as proof...? That's a great deal!
Sadly, no. The emphasis is on the employer to show that they've made strenuous efforts to find a Swiss/EU national who could do the job. Only if they can show why they can't (as outlined in the first link - Priority section) would they get permission to hire a non-EU.

The other thing you might have to be careful of would be the number of clients you/your company has. I'm not that au fait with this, but I believe if you only work for one company the Swiss will consider you an employee of that company and not as self-employed. This affects who pays for what taxes and insurances so having 3 or more clients might also be necessary.
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Old 11.12.2015, 08:51
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Re: Slowly coming over

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Thanks for your thoughts, Medea. I think I must have substituted the German artist situation for the Swiss rules. (There should be an easy way to delete unneeded information from the brain.) I'll see if my grandmother was registered with Ireland at her birth, but it's a long shot.
*As I understand it*, if your grandmother was born in Ireland (Republic or Northern) then you are eligible for a foreign birth registration. If she wasn't but her parents were then *your* eligible parent would have had to have conducted their own foreign birth registration before your birth in order to pass on their Irish nationality to you.

I stand open to correction (am going through the ins and outs of this at the moment to consider registering my children as Irish; since my mother was born in Ireland and I wasn't this will be a foreign birth registration, and I'll need to do it before my children have children if they want to pass on their Irish citizenship).
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Old 11.12.2015, 09:15
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Re: Slowly coming over

This may help:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/inis/pages/wp11000024
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Old 11.12.2015, 22:17
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Re: Slowly coming over

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The other thing you might have to be careful of would be the number of clients you/your company has. I'm not that au fait with this, but I believe if you only work for one company the Swiss will consider you an employee of that company and not as self-employed. This affects who pays for what taxes and insurances so having 3 or more clients might also be necessary.
I don't have clients. It's more like if I recorded an album and put it on iTunes, or if I designed a dress and distributed the pattern, or if I wrote a series of books and put them up for sale. (I don't want to say exactly what the job is beyond "a genre of digital art" for privacy reasons.) I found a couple of posts about artist permits, but there isn't much.

We hired a tax lawyer last month, but he's focused on the financials on the Swiss side, and laying out our options. What I really want to do is continue to run the company through the US, but that's because it's what I know how to do. The idea of handing all that control over to someone else is terrifying. If a mistake is made, I'm the one paying the penalties. It seems that the people I hire all disagree with each other. This is why I do sometimes consider simply walking away from the job.

Well, back to digging through old threads.
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Old 11.12.2015, 22:19
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Re: Slowly coming over

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*As I understand it*, if your grandmother was born in Ireland (Republic or Northern) then you are eligible for a foreign birth registration. If she wasn't but her parents were then *your* eligible parent would have had to have conducted their own foreign birth registration before your birth in order to pass on their Irish nationality to you.

I stand open to correction (am going through the ins and outs of this at the moment to consider registering my children as Irish; since my mother was born in Ireland and I wasn't this will be a foreign birth registration, and I'll need to do it before my children have children if they want to pass on their Irish citizenship).
Gah! You're right-- I'm out. It would be great if my mother qualified. Worrying about leaving her behind is the sole non-financial source of stress about the move.
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Old 11.12.2015, 22:59
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Re: Slowly coming over

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I don't have clients. It's more like if I recorded an album and put it on iTunes, or if I designed a dress and distributed the pattern, or if I wrote a series of books and put them up for sale. (I don't want to say exactly what the job is beyond "a genre of digital art" for privacy reasons.) I found a couple of posts about artist permits, but there isn't much.

We hired a tax lawyer last month, but he's focused on the financials on the Swiss side, and laying out our options. What I really want to do is continue to run the company through the US, but that's because it's what I know how to do. The idea of handing all that control over to someone else is terrifying. If a mistake is made, I'm the one paying the penalties. It seems that the people I hire all disagree with each other. This is why I do sometimes consider simply walking away from the job.

Well, back to digging through old threads.
Not sure you'll find much I'm afraid. It might be worth getting your boyfriend to talk to the migration office of the canton you're thinking of moving to, to see what advice they may be able to give.
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