FI working in International Organization

Hello all,

I work in an international organization in Geneva, which means I don’t pay taxes on my salary. I also have included a pension, so I know nothing about pillars and tax declarations (lucky me).
The idea is to stay working here for some years and if I’m lucky and I can FI, then go somewhere else (Italy, Spain, Greece, Malta, Portugal…).

As from a year ago, I opened an account with Interactive Brokers (UK branch) and I’ve been buying VTI, VWO, VGK and VPL (I thought about VT but I decided to do the allocation myself).

Although my salary is free of taxes, there are some limits. e.g. if I buy a house I would need to pay taxes on it. Which brings me to the question, what should I do with the taxes on my dividends?

So far I’ve filled the W-8BEN form with IB so I’m being withheld “only” 15% from the US.
I have gone to the tax office here in Geneva, but they didn’t know what to tell me. They said an expert would call me later, they took my phone number… and they never called (more than a year since).

Option A.
I don’t have to pay taxes on the dividends. I could even think of filling the DA1 and take back the 15%?

Option B.
I have to pay taxes on my dividends. Then I suppose it’s a total of 30%. I need to declare and probably use the DA1 to avoid double imposition. Then pay another 15% to Switzerland (15% were already held in the US).

Option C.
Legal limbo. I don’t say anything and stay as I am now, only paying 15% to the US and see what happens. Probably not the smartest and might blow in my face eventually.

I’m planning on going again to the tax office and ask, but I wanted to know if there are others in my situation or that might know what to do.


1 Like

Option D. Pay a lawyer or dig up into relevant treaties yourself and stop looking for free legal advice

I don’t have to pay taxes on the dividends. I could even think of filling the DA1 and take back the 15%?

As you don’t pay taxes to swiss, there’s nothing for them to pay you back via DA1

1 Like

Thanks for your reply @hedgehog.
Yes, I thought about Option D, but I wanted to run out of free options. I find quite strange that not even in the tax office can tell me how to do it.

The DA1 would be in case I declare to avoid double imposition, unless I missed something I think it makes sense.

They will tell you, but you need to ask specific and concrete questions. Succinctly describe your situation and ask if they want to tax your dividends and whether you should file tax declaration. Forget phone, you need a paper trail here, so email (they would usually reply) or send a letter. If they say “no” and you have proof to back it up, I think that should do it. For even more certainty if it’s about big money, you can ask them for a thing called “tax ruling”, then it’s 100% legally binding to them whatever they reply.

DA1 is for double taxation. From what i see you are not double taxed, but only by US, so swiss have nothing to do with 15% that were taken from you, that’s between you and the IRS.


Hi Mrka0,

I’m in the same, same situation… :frowning:

I’m living in Switzerland for more that 20 years, I’m not Swiss and I opened an account in IB also, I “cheat” a bit because I don’t have a AVS or Swiss TIN! So, I gave them my European TIN… But I’m very anxious about that because if US contact my European country telling about taxes and I don’t pay neither live any more in my EU country… ejem…

For the Swiss TIN I asked formally to the Tax in Geneva about my TIN because I wanted to pay or have this number to declare at least the money. The official answer has been that I don’t have a TIN number, they cannot give me one so, I’m really in a s****t… :frowning:

I wrote to IB about this situation and I’m waiting for they answer…

I really believe that if US Taxes, EU Taxes…etc… go “deep” they can frozen the accounts! I feel bad because I’m not a tax evader!!! I want to do the things correctly but nobody helps.

Now, solutions… Since I can request the Anticipated Taxes of 35% back if I operate with a Swiss broker… What do you think about opening an account let’s say in CornerTrader ? the maths:

1- CT: Pay (much) more per transactions + 0.3 Tax Stamp Duty - 35% of gains (I have to request but normally the give back)
2- Stay in IB and “pray” that they (US, EU,CH) don’t go deep in anything and I pay the 15%

Do you have an idea that what is the best? Paying less in IB and pay the 15% or pay more in CT for operation and don’t pay the 35% of taxes…

I’ll really appreciate any comment, hep, idea, etc.


EDIT: Solution:

Everybody working in Geneva has a TIN… The FI have it when they got a “Carte de Legitimation”. To get the number, talk with your HR department and ask who has access to the “Ordipro” application. There is all the information about the FI including the magic-13-number TIN :wink:

Hey there. The impôt anticipé of 35% only applies to Swiss dividends. You can claim them back because you don’t pay taxes in CH.

However, when receiving dividends from a foreign entity they will withhold some taxes at the rate of that country. If you want to claim them back then you should do that country by country.

No idea how this would work with the US, probably doesn’t apply.

I’m really interested in you case since you pay taxes nowhere :slight_smile: Lucky you.

How can you live there without having an AVS number?
(Couldn’t you at least register for one?)

Hi Ed,

Thank you very much for your comment.
You say I’m lucky about taxes… well… I’ll answer you in the next post :wink:



Hi San Francisco,

Thank you for passing by…

Well, you cannot imaging how complicate is the day-by-day life in Switzerland without this number…or without paying taxes. I know, I know…some of you are going to yell… but let me explain.

I promise you that I would pay something to have it! Because we are NO WHERE in the system!
I don’t have a permit…B, C, or whatever neither! So, if I ask online for, example, an car insurance, when the ask about my permit…always I have to put “Other” and… quickly they thing I’m illegal, trying to do some cheat…etc.

We cannot have it, it is impossible unless you buy a property in Switzerland, then, we got one…
Hopefully schools, etc, they are aware about that and let us filling documents without the number but is really painful explain again and again the situation.

I was living in France and for that they are better… one thing at least :wink:

They give you a official Tax number. After, you make your Tax declaration to them, put incoming: 0 and it’s done. You don’t have any incoming but at least you have a number!

When I was investing in France, I put in the declaration: Work incoming: 0 Investments gains (i.e.): 1000 Euros… I paid something for that and done!


Did you register your domicile in Switzerland, at the municipality? If no, why not?

Hi Strabor,

Yes, of course it’s done. In fact is the International Organisation that do that for us… If I check in the official register in Geneva (where I live) I find perfectly my official address, phone number, etc. In the tax reports,etc, nothing.

We MUST announce our residential address changes to the OI and them change it in the official registers in Switzerland.

I tried “fulfilling” an online tax report :wink: Just to “start” the wheel… and the system don’t let me do it…haha,.


Interesting. Do you want to share which organisation you are working for?

Hi, yes, no problem. The CERN.

Well, I fail to see how this is relevant.

His status is the case for most people who work for international organisations. No taxes paid in Switzerland, no right to benefits either. Since there is no permit, there is no right to citizenship either, regardless of the time spent in Switzerland. Another example: pension plans are private by necessity.

This can be very interesting if you play it well.

What I really would like to know is how this works regarding international taxes. The “double taxation” agreements do not apply because there is no double taxation, just the foreign one. But! One can claim taxes back if they’re not due for non-residents of that country.

Well, maybe not relevant but very interesting. I had no idea that CERN staff had that status too.

So I stand corrected.

Hi Ed,

Just to everybody… we have special rights, it’s true, but since I’ve been working for the Swiss industry, I can tell you that the conditions are “normal” for the same post in same industry… I mean, probably we don’t pay taxes for the salary incoming or cars, but we pay all the rest and when you check salaries…well… we are below the same post/qualification in Switzerland.

Said that, about your question of taxes, etc… We cannot get any tax back because we cannot proof all what I told you because they are really small cases, not too well documented, etc. I.e. in you can check the particularities for EACH OI!!! It’s crazy! Where do you work, are you Swiss or not… are you married with a Swiss…etc…etc… And…all in French!!!

All the official treats are coming from 1920, 1969, etc… very old, old treats that have been updated more or less…

Complex problem… really…

1 Like

Well. You actually can get a Swiss permit, if you resign from your CdL.
In this case, your stay counts towards nationality, you get the Permit B (and later C), you get the tax number.

What is the cost: Your salary becomes taxed as any other person living in CH :slight_smile:

I don’t know the details, but I have friends that did it - exactly to have the years spent here counted towards Permit C, and nationality.

CERN tax status is quite good.
Especially if you live on the French side of the border…

Apart from no taxes on salaries, there is a tax free allowance (every two years) of:

  • one car
  • one plane
  • one boat



Interesting and, as I can imagine, complicated (and complating) stuff.

What about health insurance? Do you have a Swiss health insurance? (And if yes, is the AVS no. field blank on your insurance card?)

Yes Karol but don’t forget… the car/boat are not in “standard” plates! Even in Geneva, you cannot sell to somebody that doesn’t have the same rights… if you want to sell it you have to pay the TVA or wait (I don’t remember how long) to pass the car to standard one and selling… So, for personal use it’s OK

1 Like