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Old 18.12.2010, 12:33
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Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

Has anyone else had problems with tax after leaving Switzerland? I've got a claim dragging on since 2008, which I thought would be fairly straightforward: first half of year living and earning in Switzerland, then moved to Germany, then the second half of the year living in Germany but earning nothing.

I thought that would be easy - I've already paid the Swiss what I owe them for their tax, and I figured the Germans would get nothing, because I didn't earn anything during the period when I lived in Germany. But apparently it's not so simple and our helpful "Lohnsteuerhilfeverein" seem to be fairly inept.

Even after several exchanges and clarifications they're still asking for a not insignificant sum of euros, on the basis that they haven't got a "Negativbescheinigung" proving that my employer didn't pay for my health insurance (despite having a certificate from my health insurance that the contract was only with me), and they also haven't got a "Berechnung des Gehalts nach deutschem Steuerrecht" (whatever that is). I'm positive that this bill is higher than it should be due to misunderstandings, but it's dragged on for so long now that I'm not sure we can do anything about it now apart from suck it up and pay it.

Has anyone else had a similar experience and a cunning way to easily fix it?
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Old 18.12.2010, 13:10
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

About the health insurance: I would get an informal note from your previous employer stating that they didn't pay the 'Arbeitgeberanteil', signed by an authorized person.

I don't know a lot about taxes but heard about the 'Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen D-CH'. It says that your income is taxed in the country in which you earned it, Switzerland in your case. I'd think you wouldn't have to pay german 'Lohnsteuer'.

Why don't you make an appointment at your 'Finanzamt' to talk this through personally?
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Old 18.12.2010, 18:23
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

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Why don't you make an appointment at your 'Finanzamt' to talk this through personally?
You're right of course, except that as I said we use a Lohnsteuerhilfeverein (and pay for the privilege) who are supposed to know what they're doing and be the experts for us. So we've not been in contact directly with the Finanzamt, everything's been through our advisers / representatives. They were supposed to make everything easy...

Part of the problem is that the German Finanzamt don't seem to understand the Swiss Lohnausweis, which I find incredible, and the Swiss health insurance people and my Swiss ex-employer don't understand what the Finanzamt (through our advisers) are asking for. And noone, not even our paid experts, know what this Negativbescheinigung is needed for because it's obvious that only I paid for my health insurance... it's all so frustrating.

I was hoping that somebody here had been in the same position and knew the magic words to say to the right people to make it clear for everybody. As I said, I thought it was going to be simple: for the time when I lived in Germany, income = 0 so tax owed = 0. If only.
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Old 18.12.2010, 18:35
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

The 'expertise' of a German Lohnsteuerhilfeverein is usually somewhat limited to handling rather straightforward tax issues of a 'normal' German employee drawing a salary in Germany only.
Once the issue becomes a bit more complex - due to owning real estate, inheritance, international relocation etc. - they are operating slightly outside of their comfort zone. Such more complex cases are usually handled by a tax lawyer (look up 'Fachanwalt für Steuerrecht' in your local yellow pages or google for it). Their expertise comes with a more significant price tag - you can enquire about their range of fees upfront.

Last edited by xkcd; 18.12.2010 at 18:36. Reason: typo
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Old 18.12.2010, 18:37
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

Yes - the only way is to pay it. I had the same experience when I came back to Germany from the UK. Your Steuerberater is not incapable, the Germans just have different tax laws. You can try to get some tax back from the Swiss. And also there is an 800 euro allowance for moving to Germany.
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Old 18.12.2010, 19:09
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

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The 'expertise' of a German Lohnsteuerhilfeverein is usually somewhat limited to handling rather straightforward tax issues of a 'normal' German employee drawing a salary in Germany only.
correct. Lohnsteuerhilfevereine are normally consulted by people who have a low salary with no complicated deductions, but are still too stupid to fill in the tax forms-and don't want to pay for a real tax advisor.


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Fachanwalt für Steuerrecht'
No, the keyword is "Steuerberater". Ask the people on http://www.toytowngermany.com/ for someone who is familiar with such issues.
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Old 18.12.2010, 19:14
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

You need a German Steuerberater in this case. Perhaps one of these border towns has one that is familiar with cross-border issues.
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Old 18.12.2010, 19:40
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

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You need a German Steuerberater in this case. Perhaps one of these border towns has one that is familiar with cross-border issues.
Most are.
A lot of people around the border work in Switzerland and live in Germany (for various reasons).
Child-care, housing and food is much cheaper and health-care potentially is too (and dentist work is covered, mostly).

Go to http://www.gelbeseiten.de and look for a "Steuerberater" near your town.
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:03
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

Thanks for the Steuerberater tips. But I think the time we should have engaged one of those was when we started submitting our tax return, it seems that now it's a bit late for that. And we don't live near the border, as far as I was concerned there was no cross-border issue, just a time in CH and then a completely separate and unrelated time in D. Guess I was wrong.

I don't agree that the Lohnsteuerhilfeverein are only for those "too stupid" to fill in the declaration themselves, I know several people who have benefited from them by finding out things they could claim which they wouldn't otherwise have known about, so they more than paid for themselves.

I'm beginning to agree with xkcd though in that they're best when the situation is simple. At the beginning though I was convinced it was simple - no income, can't get simpler than that, right?
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Old 18.12.2010, 21:19
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Re: Moved to Germany - now the Germans want tax from Swiss income!

Yes and no. Your problem is that income taxes in germany are calculated over the whole year... which includes time spent in CH. Depending on how much money they ask from you I would consider consulting a Steuerberater - that could reduce the bill.

Don't be too upset about the Lohnsteuerhilfeverein - tax laws are complicated and change constantly. My brother is doing an apprenticeship at a tax office that specializes on farmer's tax returns!
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