Learn about potential taxes on large transfers to the Land of Milk and Honey.
Emigrating, starting a business or helping a student studying in a Swiss university — whatever your reasons for sending money to Switzerland, there’s a lot to consider.
One thing you can’t avoid are the laws and legal paperwork that go along with transferring large amounts of money. Before you move your money out of the US, here’s what to know about laws and regulations in Switzerland.
How Switzerland regulates large remittances
Switzerland does not impose inheritance or gift taxes at the federal level, which typically affect remittances. However, similar to the US — where our 50 states are separate sovereign mini-governments — the Swiss Confederation comprises 26 states called cantons, each with varying laws on taxation.
Gift tax rates are generally based on your relationship to your remittance recipient and how much you’re sending. To stop citizens from attempting to get around a stiff inheritance tax by simply giving away their property and assets, most cantons impose some fort of a gift tax.
If taxes are required, your recipient pays them with their normal tax returns. Nearly all cantons exempt spouses, registered partners and children from taxes on large gifts, though it’s not immediately clear what the government constitutes as “large.” To learn more about potential taxes on your large money transfer, urge your recipient to contact a professional.
What are the penalties for not filing a large remittance?
Penalties vary by canton, but the government monitors remittances into and out of Switzerland closely — which means your large money transfer is likely to be caught. Encourage your friends and family in Switzerland to declare any large remittance on their general tax returns.
In general, if a Swiss taxpayer fails to file their taxes correctly, the government’s tax authorities can apply a default taxation. This default amount is typically much higher than the actual amount due but based on reasonable estimates.
Do I have to report large transfers out of the US?
To guarantee that you’re in compliance, yes. There’s no limit as to how much you can send from the US to Switzerland, but if you’re sending more than $10,000, you’ll need to abide by US laws in place to protect your money and the interests of the government.
In the wake of 9/11, banks report all cash transactions to Switzerland that exceed $10,000 — and any transaction that rouses their suspicions. Depending on the circumstances, a money transfer business can be required to report transfers as low as $1,000.
Sending a lot of money out of the country? Know what the IRS expects of you.
How will my recipient receive my remittance in Switzerland?
How your Swiss family or friends actually receive your money depends on the provider you choose and how you’ve chosen to deliver it. In Switzerland, convenient delivery options include bank transfers, cash pickup and transfer to mobile wallets.
If picking up your money in person, your loved ones may need to show government-issued ID or a confirmation number to prove they’re the intended recipient. Other deliveries may not require them to do anything at all.
How to set up a business entity in Switzerland
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