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Old 01.07.2016, 21:16
Medea Fleecestealer's Avatar
Medea Fleecestealer Medea Fleecestealer is offline
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Re: New, and in need of information.

Welcome to the forum and soon to Switzerland.

I'm assuming from your name and the fact you refer to your partner as him that this is a same sex relationship. Well, the Swiss don't recognise this as a marriage - it's a registered same-sex partnership here. If you're getting hitched here this is what you'll be entering into.

Unemployment, sorry no, not unless you've worked in Switzerland or the EU in the last 12 months.

Finances/tax-wise well, you're going to be in for a shock so take a deep breath.

Firstly the US tax system is based on citizenship, while the rest of the world operates on a residency based system. So yes, you'll pay tax here as you'll be resident here. However, that doesn't let you off the US hook as Americans are obliged to file US tax returns and yes, may owe the US tax too, no matter where they live in the world. There are some exemptions/reductions you can claim, but no guarantee that you won't owe the US something depending on how much you earn. Even if you owe nothing you still need to file unless you're below the filing amount. Start your research on that here:

Second, Swiss bank accounts. As a US citizen you're pretty much a person non gratis outside of the US and particularly here in Switzerland thanks to the US's FATCA law. You will be able to get a basic checking/salary account, but that's likely it. No mortgage, no investment account unless you're already very wealthy. To open that account you'll need to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to send the account info on to the IRS. Your partner may also have to do this if the bank is being particularly paranoid about the American taint.

KEEP YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS SEPARATE FROM YOUR PARTNER'S. Why? Because as well as filing annual returns (which your partner may also need to do - check the IRS website) if any "foreign", i.e.outside of the US, account/s in your name or that you have signing rights on like a joint account come to an aggregate figure of more than $10,000 at any time of the year they will also have to be reported on a FBAR form, detailing said account/s and the figure/s in them. This is adminstered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network - which gives you an idea of how Americans living abroad are seen by the government.

Third, Swiss tax. You'll both be included on the one tax form and there are 3 levels of taxes - gemeinde, canton and federal. The canton is the base one, gemeinde is worked out from the cantonal tax and federal is a different rate. If you get a job you may be taxed at source. Best to have a chat to with the cantonal tax office to work out what's the best route for filing.

Health insurance - all residents have to have Swiss health insurance cover, it's mandatory. All providers offer the basic cover which is the same, but you can have different franchises which will lower your monthly payments, but mean you have to pay more up front first before the insurance kicks in. You can also add on supplementary insurance for things like a semi-private or private room, cost of calling an ambulance out, etc. Pre-existing conditions can't be excluded from the basic cover, but it's likely to be difficult to impossible to get supplementary, depending on what the condition is. Make sure that you have accident cover included, your partner is covered for this by his employer as he works over 8 hours a week, but you won't be so will need to add it on. If/when you find a job where you work more than 8 hours a week, then you can cancel the accident part of your health insurance policy.

As well as reading the various sticky threads here on the forum I suggest you get hold of a copy of "Living and Working in Switzerland" by David Hampshire. It's full of useful info for both before and after you move. You can order it from your local bookshop or via the internet.

Last edited by Medea Fleecestealer; 01.07.2016 at 21:24. Reason: Added health insurance/book info
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