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Old 15.02.2011, 15:59
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Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

Hi

There have been a few similar posts to this, but nothing that really covers exactly what we're wondering, so I thought it was worth asking properly.

I'm waiting to hear back about a software role in Zurich that I've just completed the final interviews for. My wife and I would be pretty happy to move to Zurich (nearby mountains are a big plus point!), but we'd been assuming there'd be no real problems with her continuing her existing freelance work for companies here in the UK while in Switzerland.

So, here's what we're wondering:

a) Can my wife be resident in Switzerland along with with me (i'd be employed in Zurich) and do freelance work for UK firms, paid in sterling, without having to register a business here herself?

b) If so, we know she'd be eligible for income tax in Switzerland, but is there then a way to not be double-taxed in the UK too? Or is the only solution for her to register as self employed in Switzerland?

c) Is it easy to register as self employed in Switzerland? We've heard horror stories of it being blocked to protect the Swiss labour market, etc, but can't quite believe things are like that. Are they?

Thanks

Steve
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Old 15.02.2011, 17:45
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

I don't have direct experience here, but a couple of questions (raised by chats with friends who are self-employed / freelancing):

Is your wife set up as a sole trader or registered business in the UK? If so, she may be able to continue trading in the UK remotely (ie, money earned and taxed in the UK). I know a guy who did this with his French-registered business for a few years.

Will she only work for UK firms, or would she also like to work for some similar Swiss (or other European) firms?

Best bet would be to talk to the people at the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce, I s'pose ... they would've seen all of this before!
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Old 15.02.2011, 19:53
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

Hi araqyl - thanks for the reply.

Yeah, she's been a sole trader in the UK for years and it's probably easier (and cheaper) if there's no actual need to set up again in Switzerland. Work would initially be for existing UK clients, we reckon, but there's no real reason to turn down Swiss clients, unless it would bring a world of red-tape hurt.

Thanks for the link to the BSCC - will check it out and drop them a line.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 15.02.2011, 20:39
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

And do remember to let us know what the outcome is, as someone else will probably have the same question in the future
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Old 15.02.2011, 20:54
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

What kind of permit will she have?

Does it allow her to work?
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Old 15.02.2011, 21:04
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

We're both UK/EU nationals, which I gather means getting a work permit won't be a problem. Please do put me straight on that if I've got the wrong end of the stick, though.
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Old 15.02.2011, 22:09
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

I'm no expert, but you should find out what kind of permit she will get, if it's a work permit then you will at least know she can work for a company here.

I don't believe there is a restriction for anyone to work here, no matter what permit they have as long as the income is not generated from Switzerland, Ie yarned anywhere from the UK etc etc.

Some permits will not allow any employment in CH, even voluntary, but that does not stop you earning an income from outside of CH.

She can opt to pay UK TAX or CH TAX or in some cases both if the CH authorities decide she did not pay enough TAX.
To opt out of the UK system you need to file form available from the HMRC website.
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Old 15.02.2011, 22:10
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

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We're both UK/EU nationals, which I gather means getting a work permit won't be a problem. Please do put me straight on that if I've got the wrong end of the stick, though.
If your wife gets a Swiss permit (combined residence & work) then I suppose the Swiss will expect her to pay income tax here.
It sounds like she has more than one client so it should be easy for her to set up as a sole trader here. Generally the income tax rates here are lower than UK & you can set off more things against the income so she would probably benefit from paying tax here.

There are double tax agreements between the UK & Swiss so she will not pay twice. May be difficult to stop paying tax in UK if your wife spends too much time there; in that case of getting UK tax demands she could deduct Swiss tax payments from UK tax demands assuming the UK ones are higher.....
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Old 17.02.2011, 11:37
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Re: Couple moving to a job in Zurich - can one of us still freelance for a UK company

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a) Can my wife be resident in Switzerland along with with me (i'd be employed in Zurich) and do freelance work for UK firms, paid in sterling, without having to register a business here herself?
Yes.

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b) If so, we know she'd be liable for income tax in Switzerland, but is there then a way to not be double-taxed in the UK too? Or is the only solution for her to register as self employed in Switzerland?
Fixed that for you . She will register as self employed in Switzerland and pay het atxes and AHV here. She should dergeister from the UK tax system. As long as she does not become ordinarily resident in the UK again then there is no UK tax.

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c) Is it easy to register as self employed in Switzerland?
Yes, it's easy for the activities described (more than one client, existing contracts etc etc).

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We've heard horror stories of it being blocked to protect the Swiss labour market, etc, but can't quite believe things are like that. Are they?
Untrue.
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