Article originally published in Financial Times - FT Expat magazine, October 2001
Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the most attractive countries in the world to live in. Politically stable, wealthy, very clean and safe, it offers excellent communications and transport, efficient public services, schools with an international reputation, low tax rates, and many more advantages that make it the ultimate choice for business and residence. Investors and entrepreneurs as well as persons of independent means who have connections with Switzerland and wish to retire, would normally have no problem obtaining a residence permit.
Residence Permits for Investors and Persons of Independent Means
A residence permit may be obtained by establishing a company in Switzerland which then employs the individual seeking residence. Switzerland is keen to attract small and medium-sized enterprises as well as large corporations. Business-friendly by tradition, the 26 cantons offer a wide range of opportunities and a solution to suit all needs and expectations. The advantages associated with Switzerland are complemented by other benefits specific to each canton. Even tax breaks may be available if the business is going to be sizeable and create numerous jobs. In addition to these advantages, personal and corporate taxation in certain cantons of Switzerland is among the lowest in Europe.
Alternatively, you may establish your residence in Switzerland if you are over 55 years of age, financially independent and can show evidence of close ties to Switzerland. You may then avail yourself of a lump-sum taxation arrangement (forfait fiscal, Pauschalbesteuerung) instead of the usual taxation on worldwide income and assets. This special taxation regime - but not the granting of the permit, which has to be approved by the Federal authorities - is negotiated on an individual basis and is decided on by the cantonal authorities. The possibility of lump-sum taxation as well as the high degree of privacy and personal security enjoyed by its inhabitants make Switzerland the residence of choice for many celebrities and wealthy retirees.
Personal taxes in Switzerland vary depending on the canton and community in which an individual resides, works or has otherwise invested. While Swiss Federal tax applies throughout the country, each canton has its own tax system and sets its own tax rates. While normal taxation is already reasonable, foreigners who...