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Old 14.01.2009, 17:50
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am I entitled to a tax refund?

Hello -

I am a US citizen. I had 4 months of very small salary in Switzerland in 2008 and will have 2 months of the same very small salary here in 2009.

The deposits to my bank account were approximately 75% of my stated salary - the rest was withheld for taxes.

My questions are the following:

1. as a non-Swiss citizen, am I entitled to a refund of any of the tax money;

2. is the withholding calculated based upon your total yearly salary, or upon your monthly salary extrapolated to a yearly salary (for example, did they withhold 25% based upon what I actually earned in 2008, or based upon my monthly salary, multiplied by 12)?

3. how can I go about learning more about this in a relatively easy manner without bothering people on this forum?

Thanks very much! (Perhaps I can by a coffee with any potential refund...)
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Old 14.01.2009, 19:43
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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Hello -

I am a US citizen. I had 4 months of very small salary in Switzerland in 2008 and will have 2 months of the same very small salary here in 2009.

The deposits to my bank account were approximately 75% of my stated salary - the rest was withheld for taxes.

My questions are the following:

1. as a non-Swiss citizen, am I entitled to a refund of any of the tax money;

2. is the withholding calculated based upon your total yearly salary, or upon your monthly salary extrapolated to a yearly salary (for example, did they withhold 25% based upon what I actually earned in 2008, or based upon my monthly salary, multiplied by 12)?

3. how can I go about learning more about this in a relatively easy manner without bothering people on this forum?

Thanks very much! (Perhaps I can by a coffee with any potential refund...)
1. Nope. You worked here, I assumed you lived here, thus you pay taxes here.

2. I am pretty sure the Withholding will deductions will be correct

3. Ask at the tax office!
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Old 15.01.2009, 11:08
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

Are taxes here not calculated monthly payment, not on your annual salary, that's why you alway pay more tax on your 13th payment. That being the case unless you have additional deductables, I think your unlikely to be eligable for a rebate.
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Old 15.01.2009, 11:28
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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2. is the withholding calculated based upon your total yearly salary, or upon your monthly salary extrapolated to a yearly salary (for example, did they withhold 25% based upon what I actually earned in 2008, or based upon my monthly salary, multiplied by 12)?
Those 25% are probably tax plus mandatory insurances. When you're taxed at source, the tax rate is based on your monthly salary only, so the rate can vary over the year.

(I'm pretty sure the tax authorities do their calculations on an annual basis when they come up with the percentages, but the source tax tables are per month.)
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Old 15.01.2009, 11:55
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

I have a similar question.

I was hit (hard) by taxes from the moving expenses that my company paid. The moving expenses paid by my company are treated as a "salary" and I paid taxes on them. The taxes I paid the month that the moving invoice came due were actually more than my entire salary for the month... that was a nice little surprise.

Question is: Since the canton (ZH) withheld taxes (at source) that month based on the assumption that my salary would be that high every month, I should be entitled to a refund, correct? I don't remember the exact numbers, but let's say my normal withholding is 9%. That month, I was around 25+%. I should be able to claim the difference between 9% and 25% back? I understand that I won't get ALL of it back.

Am I correct on this assumption? When will I be able to file? I assume I need a document from my employer stating how much I made in 2008. When are they required to send those?

By the way, if anyone can recommend a tax adviser in the Horgen area, please let me know. I found some recommendations on this forum, but most were in Zurich.

Thanks!
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Old 15.01.2009, 11:57
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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Hello -

I am a US citizen. I had 4 months of very small salary in Switzerland in 2008 and will have 2 months of the same very small salary here in 2009.

The deposits to my bank account were approximately 75% of my stated salary - the rest was withheld for taxes.

My questions are the following:

1. as a non-Swiss citizen, am I entitled to a refund of any of the tax money;

2. is the withholding calculated based upon your total yearly salary, or upon your monthly salary extrapolated to a yearly salary (for example, did they withhold 25% based upon what I actually earned in 2008, or based upon my monthly salary, multiplied by 12)?

3. how can I go about learning more about this in a relatively easy manner without bothering people on this forum?

Thanks very much! (Perhaps I can by a coffee with any potential refund...)
1. Yes, if you worked here as an expat.

Some of my posts in the following thread should give you some details:

Relocation bonus
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Old 15.01.2009, 12:02
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

Very helpful link... answers most of my question. I'll leave it to the tax adviser to sort out the specifics.
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Old 15.01.2009, 12:04
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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I was hit (hard) by taxes from the moving expenses that my company paid. The moving expenses paid by my company are treated as a "salary" and I paid taxes on them. The taxes I paid the month that the moving invoice came due were actually more than my entire salary for the month... that was a nice little surprise.
From the tax authorities' perspective, it is a salary. A serious employer will compensate you for that, of course. Check with HR.
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Old 15.01.2009, 12:17
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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From the tax authorities' perspective, it is a salary. A serious employer will compensate you for that, of course. Check with HR.
The employer was nice enough to float me an interest-free loan for most of the difference. Of course, my paychecks are much lighter until that is paid off. I could not complain much once I saw the bill they paid to get me here.

Your point about compensating me for that... Had they paid me the money that I paid in taxes, would that not be taxable as well? Then they would have to compensate me for taxes on the tax compensation...[start infinitesimal loop here].
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Old 15.01.2009, 12:27
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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Your point about compensating me for that... Had they paid me the money that I paid in taxes, would that not be taxable as well? Then they would have to compensate me for taxes on the tax compensation...[start infinitesimal loop here].
Like the rabbit than can never win a race against a tortoise if he starts a meter behind, you mean? (Because when he's run that meter, the tortoise has moved a bit further, so he's still behind. And so on )

In reality, the employer would just figure out what they'd have to pay you *before* taxes to make sure you got the money you need to pay the movers (e.g. assume you need CHF 9000 to pay the movers, your employer tells the tax authorities that they'd paid you CHF 12000, you get CHF 9000 on your account, and the rest is withheld and paid as tax).

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The employer was nice enough to float me an interest-free loan for most of the difference.
Not sure what the rules for advances vs. subsidised loans to employees are here, but in many countries, you'll then risk ending up having to pay taxes on the extra hypothetical salary that you would have needed to pay for a similar loan on the market...
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Old 15.01.2009, 12:29
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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Like the rabbit than can never win a race against a tortoise if he starts a meter behind, you mean? (because when he's ran that meter, the tortoise has moved a bit further, so he's still behind. and so on...)

In reality, the employer would just figure out what they'd have to pay you *before* taxes to make sure you got the money you need to pay the movers (e.g. assume you need CHF 9000 to pay the movers, your employer tells the tax authorities that they'd paid you CHF 12000, you get CHF 9000 on your account, and the rest is withheld and paid as tax).
Which is to say the allowances you get are grossed up for tax purposes.
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  #12  
Old 15.01.2009, 12:58
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

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Hello -

I am a US citizen. I had 4 months of very small salary in Switzerland in 2008 and will have 2 months of the same very small salary here in 2009.

The deposits to my bank account were approximately 75% of my stated salary - the rest was withheld for taxes.

My questions are the following:

1. as a non-Swiss citizen, am I entitled to a refund of any of the tax money;

2. is the withholding calculated based upon your total yearly salary, or upon your monthly salary extrapolated to a yearly salary (for example, did they withhold 25% based upon what I actually earned in 2008, or based upon my monthly salary, multiplied by 12)?

3. how can I go about learning more about this in a relatively easy manner without bothering people on this forum?

Thanks very much! (Perhaps I can by a coffee with any potential refund...)

1. Did you live in Switzerland for more >= six months? If yes, then
you are not entitled to a refund. That being said you can take
taxes paid here as a tax credit.

2. The months that you were paid are extrapolated as if you worked
12 months to see what tax bracket you are in.

3. There is tax software for every Kanton; however, it may only be
in German.

Cheers,
Grant
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Old 20.01.2009, 20:32
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

It is my understanding that under withholding taxation, something like a fifth is church tax. If you did not list as your religion when you came to Switzerland one of the "taxed" religions like Catholic, and thus don't belong to one of the churches receiving this money, then you can write to the tax people and you should get this back. Additionally, interest paid on things like loans, mortgages etc. is to my admittedly limited understanding of this topic, generally tax deductible. Again, in the letter you write, document any interest paid, and hopefully you will get a significant refund. Check out the book living and working in Switzerland, which is where I read this I believe. I haven't tried it yet as I've only just arrived, but it sounds reasonable.
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Old 22.01.2009, 00:31
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

one question : I know WHT rate is the same in the canton regardless which commune you are living in; but will the tax declaration/correction at year end be impacted by where you are living in the canton? im looking for an apartment in canton Vaud at the moment, hesitating to take an apartment in Lausanne since I know the Commune tax is high. Thanks for any inputs.
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Old 22.01.2009, 16:46
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Re: am I entitled to a tax refund?

okay i can answer that by myself now, just came back from the tax office. The answer. Basically when you have a salary less than 120k the WHT tax rate is the same no matter where you lives in the Canton; So soon as you hit the 120k and are asked to file a tax correction you are subject the the commune tax.
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