Choosing a tax advisor for a less typical situation

Hello Mustachians,

Long time lurker, on a B-permit, Deutschschweiz, wanting to FI and some time later RE.

Recently my compensation has grown a lot due to stock appreciation.
I want to sell a part of the stock and diversify, and I also want to get specific advice related to the part I’d keep. The stock is a mix of shares and options and I have some flexibility in terms of location/canton. So I read most of the documents that my current Steueramt has put out and now I think I should pay for more specialized tax advice.

The big four accounting firms are what first comes to mind. Do you have feedback about picking one of them? And do you have suggestions for other firms? I prefer a personal consultation and Zürich or Basel are fine for me if I need to visit just a couple of times.

Maybe the first thing, are you sure you need help? Capital gain isn’t taxed, so afaik it would only be relevant for unvested grants and those are usually treated as income.

The tax office can also usually help answer questions.

Rules for income are pretty simple to assess (and there’s comparison website).

My understanding is that a competent tax advice will go in the many kCHF, so have to make sure it’s worth it.

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Thanks, all good points.

For me the hard part comes from the options part of the stock which is the big chunk. While not exercised they don’t count as wealth.

On the other hand with no capital gains tax, if one can exercise early, that minimizes taxes a lot. That is if the stock continues to appreciate. Also you have to put money in and pay wealth tax on the exercised stock.

Finally, if one can move to a low income tax Gemeinde, you can keep the options unexercised and avoid both the risk and the wealth tax until you want to liquidate.

As for the cost, I think low single digit kCHF will be worth it. I still haven’t got a reply from the ones I already wrote to but I think it will be around that. Not sure if I can negotiate the price down successfully and what to look for aside from the lowest price.

You can check here for RSU/RSAs. If you can exercise the options already, they will be counted as income (see point 3.1 sentence 1 from the link above)

If you already received the options, and you currently live in a rather tax-unfriendly Gemeinde, you need to move before 31.12.2021.

I’m not sure if this is true, at least from what I read from the document I linked above. If you can exercise options anytime (meaning those are not RSU/RSAs), it will be counted as income. But I’m no tax advisor, just a random dude on the internet :wink:

Edit: it seems to depend on the canton… Here is the link for canton Zurich, where unrestricted options are counted towards your personal wealth and you have to pay wealth tax for it. Kantönligeist anyone?

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Thank you, FIREstarter,

I will definitely bring this up - so far I’ve seen general guidance that most options are taxed at exercise from at least 3 different online sources:

My company’s own internal tax guide also indicates tax only at and after exercise.

I notice that the last of the 3 articles above hints that any options that cannot be traded themselves on stock exchanges might be considered “blocked” and therefore not taxable before exercise. Not sure if that’s a thing though.

I’ll probably wait for the offers, reject any that don’t include a number, and pick one based on some combination of ease of communication and price. If someone is interested, I can update with my results here.

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Thanks a lot for the links! Especially the handbook from Indexventures is a really cool and comprehensive guide. I just scrolled through it quickly, but Switzerland is unfortunately not mentioned in the handbook.
The 3rd link references Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, which is listed on London stock exchange (see here and here). At first glance, it doesn’t look like a fishy company.

I don’t know if your employer is an international company, but if it’s a Swiss company, why not try a tax advisor instead? You can also request information about prices from different tax advisors, and it might be cheaper than the big 4.

I’m definitely interested in your results, even though it’s not (yet) an option for me. But it might become an option in the future, if I want to hire employees and can offer them a good package (salary + stock options).

Pay for dbo. Great company and worth the money if your stash is above 100k

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