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Old 28.02.2021, 11:37
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Non-Swiss, non-resident, inherited property and taxation?

Hi,

It's that time of year again where for the past few years I'm being contacted by the Swiss government to pay taxes. I was hoping that someone here might be able to offer me insight on my tax situation, or provide the name of a tax professional (preferably English-speaking) that can advise me on whether I really am liable for paying taxes when I am:
-not a Swiss citizen
-not a Swiss resident
-do not live in Switzerland, left over 20 years ago
-am not renting out any property

I lived in Geneva for about 10 years, many years ago under a 'carte de legitimation' when my family moved there. I never became Swiss, and never had a permis C (some rule about my not having accumulated a certain number of years of residence by the age of 21 and having a father who was a 'fonctionnarie international'). I later moved to the other side of the planet where I work and pay taxes. I'm a US citizen (expat) and also file US taxes.

When my father passed away, the apartment in his name was transferred to my mother's, sister's and my name (50:25:25) as per Swiss inheritance law. My mother continues to live in the apartment, rent-free, of course.

I don't know of anyone else in my situation: someone who once lived in Switzerland but left, was never Swiss or held a permis C, but that inherited part of a property that is not being used as an investment property i.e. I am not profiting financially from the apartment that is partly mine, although that will change in future.

Is anyone here in my situation or does anyone know of someone in a similar situation to mine? Are they being taxed? I'm wondering if it's a mistake that I'm being taxed? Does the AFC not realize that this is an inherited property and that it's not being rented out? I don't recall ever having to notify the AFC that the property was inherited or having to pay any inheritance tax. I could understand if I was profiting financially from the apartment, but I'm not. I don't even have the right to live or vote on any matter in Switzerland.

The most frustrating part is that I can't seem to speak with anyone in the taxation department by phone who is helpful or interested in listening, they just assume I'm liable but just trying to escape paying taxes. There is no contact person that I know of in the department that I can reach by phone or write to. I've tried to contact a Swiss lawyer where I live via the Swiss embassy, but they had no idea about taxation for the canton of Geneva. I don't travel to Switzerland often, and in particular, right now travel is restricted due to covid.

I'd really appreciate if someone here could offer advice or their personal experience or point me in the right direction to get help/advice.

Thanks.
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