Switzerland: New Rules on Expatriate Tax Deductions Announced

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Jan. 30—“Expatriate” will be more narrowly defined under amendments to the Expatriates Ordinance announced Jan. 16 by the Federal Department of Finance. To qualify for expatriate tax deductions under the new rules, which are effective Jan. 1, 2016, an individual must be a senior employee or a specialist with special professional qualifications sent to Switzerland temporarily by a foreign employer.

Under other changes to the ordinance:

• expatriates' housing costs will be tax-deductible only if a dwelling abroad is permanently maintained for their own use;

• moving expenses will be deductible only if they are directly related to a move; and

• tuition for a foreign-language private school will be deductible for minors not fluent in one of the four national languages of Switzerland (German, French, Italian and Rumantsch) if public schools do not provide tuition in the child's native language, but costs relating to food, transport and supervision before and after classes will not be deductible.


The changes are the result of a 2009 parliamentary initiative (09.3528) calling for an investigation into the legality of the Expatriates Ordinance. In a legal opinion, the Federal Office of Justice confirmed the ordinance's constitutionality but recommended that the provisions on deductions relating to private school and moving costs be made more precise.

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For more information on Swiss HR law and regulation, see the Switzerland primer.