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EXPAT GUIDE | PRESENTED BY GREENBACK

TAXES

US tax preparation in Switzerland

If you dread filing your US expat taxes each year, you aren’t alone. But Greenback Expat Tax Services can prepare your taxes efficiently, accurately and at a fair, honest price.

US tax preparation in Switzerland
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Company name: Greenback Expat Tax Services

Name of Interviewee: David McKeegan, Co-Founder

Who is Greenback?

Greenback specializes in providing expert expat tax preparation and services for Americans living around the world. My wife, Carrie and I, started the company back in 2008. We were expats ourselves and couldn’t find an affordable, experienced expat tax provider so we decided to create the kind of company we were looking for.  We’ve grown exponentially since our inception and now serve clients in over 140 countries—it’s an exciting time for our company!

Where is Greenback located?

Greenback actually operates with a unique business structure. Our entire team works remotely, without a physical office. Like us, many of our team members are expats themselves!

We wanted to remain location independent since we really enjoy the expat lifestyle, but operating virtually also allows us to find the most experienced accountant and management professionals, no matter where the live. 

What are Greenback’s greatest strengths?

We certainly believe the expertise of our accountant team is the core of this company. Providing accurate returns is critical and we are meticulous in our hiring process. Customer service is another strength. Many clients return to us year after year for our tax expertise, but also because we are genuinely nice people to work with.  That is the ultimate compliment.

Why would a US expat choose to work with an expat tax company instead of preparing their taxes on their own?

Expats can absolutely file on their own if they are comfortable doing so! But the US expat tax filing requirements are complex and ever-changing, which makes it really difficult for expats to accurately file their taxes year-to-year. Understanding the deductions and exclusions that are available to offset US taxes can also be a challenge so it’s helpful to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of expat tax filing.

Do you file foreign bank account reports for your clients?

Yes! We prepare and file both FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) and FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) forms. We file the FBAR form (FinCEN 114) electronically with the Department of the Treasury by June 30th each year, while FATCA Form 8938 is filed along with your US Federal Tax Return. (Remember that if you file for an extension on your US return, you get an extension on FATCA, but NOT FBAR—that is always due June 30th.)

How does the tax preparation process work?

We wanted to make it as simple as possible, so everything is done online. Documents are uploaded to a secure online folder and the accountant prepares a draft return in about a week. In most cases, our accountants can even e-file on behalf of their clients.

What if someone hasn’t filed their US taxes since moving abroad?

This situation is really common, as many expats never knew they needed to file. We can help by filing back taxes, as well as prepare the necessary forms and tax returns if someone chooses to file under one of the IRS amnesty programs for delinquent filers, such as the Streamlined Filing Procedures.

Greenback Expat Tax Services

This text was sponsored by Greenback Expat Tax Services.

 

For members

MOVING TO SWITZERLAND

All you need to know about bringing your pets to Switzerland

Planning pet travel to Switzerland can be overwhelming at the best of times, and the last thing you want to do is overlook some details that will delay your reunion with your furry friend. We’ve compiled all the key information that you need before making the journey to the land of cheese and chocolate.

All you need to know about bringing your pets to Switzerland

Passport

First things first: Whether you’re crossing the border in the company of a dog, cat or ferret, (for other animals see link at bottom of page) your pet must have an EU or EU-recognised pet passport from other European countries or territories (Switzerland, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino, Vatican City), if they originally came from those countries to enter Switzerland.

For countries outside Europe (including the United Kingdom), a veterinary certificate and owner’s declaration must to be presented in the place of a pet passport.

Note: A maximum of five pets can be brought into Switzerland under the current pet regulations.

Microchip

In addition to packing your pet’s passport, your furry companion will also need to be microchipped (ISO standard 11784, scannable with a reader according to ISO standard 11785) prior to getting a rabies vaccination.

Rabies vaccination

Since dogs, cats, and ferrets can introduce diseases from other countries, travel with these animals is subject to strict veterinary regulations to prevent animal diseases being brought into Switzerland.

Animals younger than 12 weeks of the above-named species do not have to be vaccinated against rabies. In any case, the owner must confirm by means of a written declaration that their pet has never come into contact with wild animals whose species is susceptible to rabies since birth. The latter includes but is not limited to bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets between 12 and 16 weeks old must be vaccinated against rabies. If said pet is to enter Switzerland earlier than 21 days after its vaccination, the owner must again provide the aforementioned written declaration.

In the case of young animals that accompany their mother and are still being suckled, no declaration from the owner is required if the mother can be proven to have been vaccinated against rabies before birth. Puppies up to 56 days old must be accompanied by their mother if they are to enter Switzerland.

Travelling to Spain with your dog

Travelling to Switzerland with your dog. Image: Tadeusz Lakota / Unsplash

Registration

Pets brought into Switzerland by air are checked at the red customs exit. Should the pet not meet the entry requirements, or the owner fail to provide the required documents, the animal will be taken to the border veterinary office in the freight area for an extensive examination. All resulting costs are the responsibility of the owner, so preparation is key!

When bringing your buddy into Switzerland by land via an EU country, it is necessary to register your pet with Swiss customs, and owners are advised to keep the receipts for proof and, if applicable, the payment of VAT.

As a dog owner you will further have to register your animal as well as yourself (as a dog owner) with the Swiss municipality that you reside in. Your veterinarian must additionally register your dog in Switzerland’s dog database (AMICUS) within 10 days of crossing the border.

Beware: It is prohibited to enter Switzerland with cropped or docked dogs (ears and/or tail). However, owners can consult with the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO ([email protected] or BLV, Postfach, 3003 Bern) regarding possible exceptions, such as short stays, other forms of holidays, or moving house.

After being taken over the border, it is prohibited to sell or hand over pets to new owners.

Dog Tax

While we’re on the topic of dogs, man’s best friend is taxed in Switzerland. The fees vary from canton to canton, with some charging a flat rate while others choose to tax according to your pet’s size and weight.

In 2011, the municipality of Reconvilier made headlines when it resurrected a law from 1904 that allowed the town to put down dogs if their owners didn’t pay the annual pet tax for their pooch. Luckily, this caused quite an uproar across the country and the law never saw the light of day. Still, taxes must be paid to this day. But on the flip side, poo bags are free! (Well, sort of…there’s a dog tax for that).

Dog Classes

On June 1st, 2022, Switzerland updated its dog law. The amended law sees that new dog owners who are looking to adopt a dog – whether it be a small or big breed – must take part in mandatory dog classes consisting of a two-hour course with an exam as well as a practical course comprising six lessons.

Everyone whose pooch crossed the border before May 31st is to adhere to the previous dog law, which dictates that puppies and young dogs take part in dog classes. Some adult large breed dogs must also be signed up. It is best to ask your local municipality for more details.

Swiss animal laws

Switzerland has some of the tightest animal welfare laws in the world and while this is great news for the animal world, it might mean that simply bringing along your single pet may go against the Swiss law.

If your furry friend happens to be a “social animal”, such as a guinea pig or parakeet, you will be required – by law! – to get your pet a friend for company. It is also essential to ensure that your pet’s cage is an appropriate size (I’m looking at you fish owners!).

For a comprehensive list on the Swiss import regulations for animals please CLICK HERE.

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