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Old 09.07.2017, 10:34
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AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Just thought I should share my very recent experience of getting AHV / 1st Pillar refunded on leaving CH, as a 'data point' for everyone's reference. (That is to say, your mileage may vary and I may not have done all things the best way possible.)

It was just my partner and myself. Our circumstances were as follows:
- Each of us had two nationalities:
- Australian (Oz has a pension treaty with CH but is among the few such countries whose nationals can still cash AHV out on departure)
- a non-EU Eastern European (no pension treaty with CH)
- Both had worked for 3.5 years in CH on a permanent full-time contract
- Were moving back to Australia together

Neither of us speaking a Swiss Confederation language well enough (alas!) we didn't feel like calling the AHV office and getting lost in translation, and so just decided to give it a go and see. My idea was to provide as many relevant supporting documents as possible and let the AHV office figure it out if we were eligible for a refund.

The paperwork I sent by post to the AHV federal office in Geneva, for each of us separately, was this:

- The AHV refund form for the respective claimant. I used the English one as a guide where my German was lacking but actually filled out and sent the German one. The form has a section on the spouse, calling for just the same pack of supporting documents, so the following attachments were just the same for either of us since you seem to have to provide each kind of document for your spouse and yourself.

- Copies of our AHV certificates (we hadn't bothered to remove the wallet-size AHV cards from the pages, so I just photocopied the entire pages as we had got them.) BTW the English claim form, most likely erroneously, instructs to attach the AHV certificates, not copies. Don't get lost in translation.

- Copies of our deregistration certificates from the Gemeinde

- Copies of our Aussie passports (the bio pages)

- Copies of our other passports (the bio pages)

- A copy of our marriage certificate, which is in an arcane Cyrillic script

- A copy of an 'official' translation of the said marriage certificate to English by an Aussie government office that a) no longer existed and b) had had no license to do official translations in the first place, he he. (Long story: the then Department of Immigration and Citizenship would let a new arrival have a few documents translated for free, but other government offices would periodically reject those translations as unlicensed. Bottom line here: The Swiss AHV office doesn't seem too picky about who translated your stuff as long as it looks official, e.g., has a letterhead etc.)

- A printout of our one-way ticket to Sydney

- Copies of our employment termination letters

- Copies of our last B-permits (both sides)

- Copies of our Aussie driver licenses (for proof of our address in Oz, just in case)

- A copy of the cargo waybill or invoice (don't remember exactly) for having our stuff shipped to Sydney

3 months later we got the refund slips at our Aussie postal address (as provided in the AHV refund forms) and the CHF refunds landed safely in the Postfinance account we had kept. (I.e., the AHV office didn't mind a Swiss bank account.) For some reason the amounts refunded were at about 50% of what I had calculated from our payslips (just summed up the item shown as 'AHV/IV/EO 5.125%' across all payslips for each of us,) but I'd chalk that up to my not being on top of the AHV refund maths. If anybody could shed light on this detail, that would be greatly appreciated.


That was pretty much it. As an ad banner at the railway approach to Zurich HB once had it, 'I am not leaving Switzerland: I am taking it with me.' He he.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 09.07.2017 at 20:34. Reason: removed bold, because it's like shouting
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Old 09.07.2017, 15:57
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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amounts refunded were at about 50% of what I had calculated from our payslips (just summed up the item shown as 'AHV/IV/EO 5.125%' across all payslips for each of us,)
That actually means you only got a quarter of what was paid in total to AHV, as employer pays 10.25%, and only half is shown on payslips as "your" part of it

A part of AHV/IV/EO is for insurance. The proper pension AHV part is 4.2% of 5.125%. So I'd expect to get 80% refund...
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Old 10.07.2017, 00:52
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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That actually means you only got a quarter of what was paid in total to AHV...
Thanks for the response Ivank. Actually, that seems to agree with what I heard from an international tax advisor, that Aussies are entitled only to 20% of AHV pension once departed from CH. The rest, I suppose, just stays in the Swiss federal coffers for good. It's fine with me; I guess I should be happy to have gotten back anything at all. Still, it'd be curious to hear if anybody manages to extract a larger portion of their AHV thanks to their home country having no pension treaty of any kind with CH. I have a mate who may be in that position soon, so I'm hoping to update the thread...
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Old 10.07.2017, 05:57
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

For posterity, here is a couple of quotes from the explanation sheet that came with the refund slip:

Quote:
Der Rückvergutungsbetrag errechnet sich sowohl aus den Beiträgen des Arbeitgebers als auch aus jenen des Arbeitnehmers.
Quote:
Diese Rückerstattungssumme entspricht nicht dem Total der persönlichen geleisteten Beiträge. Seine Berechnung stützt sich auf Art. 4 der Verordnung über die Rückvergutung der AHV-Beiträge vom 29.11.1995 und die Rechtsprechung; die Rückerstattungssumme soll danach nicht höher sein als der Berwert aller AHV-Leistungen, die ein Rentner unter den gleichen persönlichen Voraussetzungen beanspruchen könnte.
So both one's own and one's employer's contributions are considered, but the amount refunded can be smaller than the total due to various regulations and it can't be larger than the pension one would receive. So be it.
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Old 10.07.2017, 07:28
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Found this report with all gory calculation details on that Barwert: https://www.bsvlive.admin.ch/vollzug.../4073_1_de.pdf

Basically, Barwert = factor from table 9 in the report * your yearly AHV pension to which you're currently entitled to, which is determined by number of contribution years and average AHV income.

Average income for purposes of AHV pension calculation is capped at 84600 Fr, any income above that won't increase your pension, so all AHV you paid on this income is expropriated from you
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Old 10.07.2017, 08:52
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Wow. That was an awesome find Ivank. I never expected to see a document from a government office with subscript indices, sigma sums, AND flowcharts in it. And sorry for misspelling Barwert as 'Berwert' in the quote I typed in.
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Old 18.07.2017, 17:05
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Interesting stuff..


Couple of questions:


- If you have dual citizenship (UK & Australia) and have worked in CH as UK citizen, but then leave CH permanently for Australia, can you still opt to withdraw the AHV? UK citizens apparently can't but Australians can so how is this decided? Would it be relevant that the contributions in CH were made as a UK citizen?


- If you do indeed have a choice (ie Aus citizen) would there be any financial benefit to just leaving the AHV contributions in CH & claiming them as a pension later?
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Old 18.07.2017, 17:22
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Great post, thank you very much for posting, we are about to through the same 'procedure'.
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Old 19.07.2017, 11:01
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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- If you have dual citizenship (UK & Australia) and have worked in CH as UK citizen, but then leave CH permanently for Australia, can you still opt to withdraw the AHV? UK citizens apparently can't but Australians can so how is this decided? Would it be relevant that the contributions in CH were made as a UK citizen?
The official "AHV for Foreign Dummies" brochure https://www.bsv.admin.ch/bsv/en/home...nd-depart.html doesn't seem to touch upon dual citizenship. In the refund claim form https://www.ahv-iv.ch/p/602.101.e you are pretty much supposed to list all of your citizenships (and support that with a biopage copy from each of your passports), so it looks like it will be up to the AHV office to work out your eligibility for a refund based on what you tell them and what they may already know about you.

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- If you do indeed have a choice (ie Aus citizen) would there be any financial benefit to just leaving the AHV contributions in CH & claiming them as a pension later?
Being a total ignoramus as far as long-term financial planning is concerned, I'm afraid I can't comment on this one. It should be possible to use the AHV formulas from the PDF Ivank found to work out one's CH state pension entitlement based on how long they worked for in CH and at what age they are claiming the pension or refund (if that matters).
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Old 19.07.2017, 16:31
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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- If you do indeed have a choice (ie Aus citizen) would there be any financial benefit to just leaving the AHV contributions in CH & claiming them as a pension later?
Only if you think you can't do better than 3% p.a. investing on your own in the long run. That's the discount rate they apply to derive current cash value of your pension for reimbursement.

On one hand earning 3% interest in CHF is not particularly bad in current rates environment. On the other hand there's the risk that the laws will be changed any moment for better or for far worse... I'd take cash.

Last edited by ivank; 19.07.2017 at 17:13.
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Old 21.07.2017, 10:40
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

I have just downloaded the form for Pillar 1 refund, and sent to Geneva. It actually seems rather straight forward attaching the documents. Hopefully i can make a (successful) update in a couple of months....
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Old 05.09.2018, 09:48
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

yarique, thank you for sharing your experience!

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I have just downloaded the form for Pillar 1 refund, and sent to Geneva. It actually seems rather straight forward attaching the documents. Hopefully i can make a (successful) update in a couple of months....
kiwii, did it worked out for you?

I am in a similar situation, I'm Brazilian and Switzerland has no pension treaty with Brazil.
I will leave Switzerland by the end of January 2019, to take employment in Denmark by April 2019. I was hoping to cash on my 6 years of contributions to pillar 1 and pillar 2 in the 2 months in between, in which I will be effectively a Brazilian resident. I fear that the time interval is too short, and I do not want to owe income taxes in Denmark. I am currently 31 yo, and I'm not keen to have these accounts frozen and subject to arbitrary changes in Swiss laws for the upcoming 30~35 years.
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Old 05.09.2018, 12:55
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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yarique, thank you for sharing your experience!
You are welcome. I was very happy to help the community a little bit.

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I am in a similar situation, I'm Brazilian and Switzerland has no pension treaty with Brazil.
I will leave Switzerland by the end of January 2019, to take employment in Denmark by April 2019. I was hoping to cash on my 6 years of contributions to pillar 1 and pillar 2 in the 2 months in between, in which I will be effectively a Brazilian resident. I fear that the time interval is too short, and I do not want to owe income taxes in Denmark. I am currently 31 yo, and I'm not keen to have these accounts frozen and subject to arbitrary changes in Swiss laws for the upcoming 30~35 years.
No idea what the Danish tax laws are in this respect; Australia provides a 6-month tax holiday on cashing out foreign pension contributions. AFAIK one is free to either keep the cash or deposit it in an Aussie superannuation account tax-free. Here is how long it took for us to get the cash into our bank account:

2nd Pillar - just around 2 weeks, and you can, and should, start the process before your actual departure (pretty much as soon as you've deregistered at the Commune.) If I remember correctly, first you do the paperwork with your employer, then with the Pillar 2 fund, then with the fund in a low-tax canton such as Schwyz you are channeling your Pillar 2 through. Most of this can be done by email these days and the rest comes through fast enough thanks to die Post. All three (the employer and the funds) provided very helpful instructions in our case.

1st Pillar - it took 3 months and a week from the submission by post to the bank deposits from the AHV.

Hoping this helps.
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Old 13.09.2018, 09:47
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Thank you again!
A very helpful answer once more

I expect to receive a very special reduced income tax rate of ~32% in Denmark. I am, therefore, quite worried about paying taxes on my pillar 1 and 2 withdraws.

I do not understand well how the tax year will count, and if I am supposed to pay for income before settling there (I should have pillar 2 before officially moving, and pillar 1 while living there, but both in the same tax year).
I will probably contact a tax office there to gather information and then open a new thread here with the specifics of my case.

What doesn't make things simpler is that I am likely to acquire Italian citizenship in a few years, and then I do not know whether it is a good idea to cash on my pillar 1 contributions at all!
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Old 13.09.2018, 12:47
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

I’m familiar with the Danish taxation regime - it’s a sweet deal when you consider cost of living up there - but I thought you couldn’t withdraw your pension funds if your destination country is an EU country, regardless of citizenship...
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Old 14.09.2018, 11:44
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

You can withdraw Pillar 1 according to your nationality. If I understood it correctly, Pillar 1 can be reimbursed if the individual is not national to any EU union country or any country holding a pension treaty with Switzerland (my case), or if the pension treaty allows it (the case described by yarique).

Concerning Pillar 2, there are threads saying that a mandatory insurance amount may be withheld if moving to other EU countries, and that one may cash only a portion of the total.

To all practical ends, I will become a resident in Brazil for 2 months, which should be enough to cash on Pillar 2 contribution. But the correctness of this is foggy to me, as I know I will be moving to an EU country right after these 2 months.
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Old 15.09.2018, 11:58
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

Thanks to everyone for adding their own little bit of clarity....sadly I'm going to add a bit of complexity! Im due to move back to the UK in Apr next year, which happens to be one month after Brexit (whatever that means). Im trying to establish my rights with the various parts of my pension under both scenarios. Below is what I perceive to be correct in theory but happy for some more knowledgeable people here to help!

UK stay in the EU/EFTA or similar style arrangement:

Pillar 1: Can I transfer this
Pillar 2a: From what i've read this either has to be transferred, or similar to law in Switzerland I can use this money against the purchase of a property under certain conditions
Pillar 2b: As this was not mandatory I am able to draw this out in cash? if so, is this taxed in Switzerland?

UK leave the EU/EFTA (depending on timings):

Would be eligible to claim back all pillars upon departing?


Thanks in advance for any help!

G
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Old 12.10.2018, 12:45
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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Thanks to everyone for adding their own little bit of clarity....sadly I'm going to add a bit of complexity! Im due to move back to the UK in Apr next year, which happens to be one month after Brexit (whatever that means). Im trying to establish my rights with the various parts of my pension under both scenarios. Below is what I perceive to be correct in theory but happy for some more knowledgeable people here to help!

UK stay in the EU/EFTA or similar style arrangement:

Pillar 1: Can I transfer this
Pillar 2a: From what i've read this either has to be transferred, or similar to law in Switzerland I can use this money against the purchase of a property under certain conditions
Pillar 2b: As this was not mandatory I am able to draw this out in cash? if so, is this taxed in Switzerland?

UK leave the EU/EFTA (depending on timings):

Would be eligible to claim back all pillars upon departing?


Thanks in advance for any help!

G
Would also be interested in knowing, as in a similar situation.
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Old 12.10.2018, 14:32
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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Thanks to everyone for adding their own little bit of clarity....sadly I'm going to add a bit of complexity! Im due to move back to the UK in Apr next year, which happens to be one month after Brexit (whatever that means). Im trying to establish my rights with the various parts of my pension under both scenarios. Below is what I perceive to be correct in theory but happy for some more knowledgeable people here to help!

UK stay in the EU/EFTA or similar style arrangement:

Pillar 1: Can I transfer this
Pillar 2a: From what i've read this either has to be transferred, or similar to law in Switzerland I can use this money against the purchase of a property under certain conditions
Pillar 2b: As this was not mandatory I am able to draw this out in cash? if so, is this taxed in Switzerland?

UK leave the EU/EFTA (depending on timings):

Would be eligible to claim back all pillars upon departing?


Thanks in advance for any help!

G
G - if you look at the form on this page, it states that you're not entitled to claim back your pillar 1 if you're a national of an EU member state. As such, currently, I don't think UK passport holders will be able to get a refund.
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Old 16.10.2018, 14:11
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Re: AHV (1st Pillar) cashout success story

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Interesting stuff..


Couple of questions:


- If you have dual citizenship (UK & Australia) and have worked in CH as UK citizen, but then leave CH permanently for Australia, can you still opt to withdraw the AHV? UK citizens apparently can't but Australians can so how is this decided? Would it be relevant that the contributions in CH were made as a UK citizen?

- If you do indeed have a choice (ie Aus citizen) would there be any financial benefit to just leaving the AHV contributions in CH & claiming them as a pension later?

The answer to this is that if ANY of your nationalities had a pension arrangement with Switzerland (such as the EU) then you cannot withdraw Pillar 1, regardless I’d wheee you are leaving to. In Geneva you can call them and speak to them i English.
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