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EXPAT GUIDE | PRESENTED BY GREENBACK

TAXES

US tax preparation in Switzerland

If you dread filing your US expat taxes each year, you aren’t alone. But Greenback Expat Tax Services can prepare your taxes efficiently, accurately and at a fair, honest price.

US tax preparation in Switzerland
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Company name: Greenback Expat Tax Services

Name of Interviewee: David McKeegan, Co-Founder

Who is Greenback?

Greenback specializes in providing expert expat tax preparation and services for Americans living around the world. My wife, Carrie and I, started the company back in 2008. We were expats ourselves and couldn’t find an affordable, experienced expat tax provider so we decided to create the kind of company we were looking for.  We’ve grown exponentially since our inception and now serve clients in over 140 countries—it’s an exciting time for our company!

Where is Greenback located?

Greenback actually operates with a unique business structure. Our entire team works remotely, without a physical office. Like us, many of our team members are expats themselves!

We wanted to remain location independent since we really enjoy the expat lifestyle, but operating virtually also allows us to find the most experienced accountant and management professionals, no matter where the live. 

What are Greenback’s greatest strengths?

We certainly believe the expertise of our accountant team is the core of this company. Providing accurate returns is critical and we are meticulous in our hiring process. Customer service is another strength. Many clients return to us year after year for our tax expertise, but also because we are genuinely nice people to work with.  That is the ultimate compliment.

Why would a US expat choose to work with an expat tax company instead of preparing their taxes on their own?

Expats can absolutely file on their own if they are comfortable doing so! But the US expat tax filing requirements are complex and ever-changing, which makes it really difficult for expats to accurately file their taxes year-to-year. Understanding the deductions and exclusions that are available to offset US taxes can also be a challenge so it’s helpful to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of expat tax filing.

Do you file foreign bank account reports for your clients?

Yes! We prepare and file both FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) and FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) forms. We file the FBAR form (FinCEN 114) electronically with the Department of the Treasury by June 30th each year, while FATCA Form 8938 is filed along with your US Federal Tax Return. (Remember that if you file for an extension on your US return, you get an extension on FATCA, but NOT FBAR—that is always due June 30th.)

How does the tax preparation process work?

We wanted to make it as simple as possible, so everything is done online. Documents are uploaded to a secure online folder and the accountant prepares a draft return in about a week. In most cases, our accountants can even e-file on behalf of their clients.

What if someone hasn’t filed their US taxes since moving abroad?

This situation is really common, as many expats never knew they needed to file. We can help by filing back taxes, as well as prepare the necessary forms and tax returns if someone chooses to file under one of the IRS amnesty programs for delinquent filers, such as the Streamlined Filing Procedures.

Greenback Expat Tax Services

This text was sponsored by Greenback Expat Tax Services.

 

For members

PROPERTY

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Switzerland is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under CHF 100k.

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe and Switzerland is no exception. As the average salary is high in Switzerland, finding homes for under CHF 1 million in some parts of the country becomes almost impossible.

Even when you do find cheap properties, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. For example, Switzerland’s famous one-franc home scheme had to be scrapped after nobody signed up. The cheap homes were, actually, too expensive when considering the costs for renovation or even how remote they were.

READ ALSO: Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Some of the properties in the scheme weren’t connected to the electricity grid, sewer system or even roads.

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Switzerland – that are still liveable or could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

Not an easy search

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Switzerland (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at CHF 500,000 (while our colleagues in Germany had theirs set at €100k, but, hey, this is Switzerland).

As of August 2022, we found 203 houses and 80 apartments following these criteria on sale.

Most of these definitely need some fixing up, but you can still snatch a home for under CHF 500,000 with lovely views of lakes and mountains or big terraces and gardens.

Going through the addresses with some of the properties, some things stand out:

Head for the border – most of the most affordable places are in Italian-speaking Switzerland. However, you can also find some of them in the French regions. In both cases, they are located very near the border with France or Italy.

Forget about cities – All the properties we found are quite far from the major cities of Zürich, Bern, and Geneva, which makes sense as the cost of living tends to rise in those regions. If you’re looking for a cheap home, you’re highly unlikely to find one in city centres.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Consider property type – It is also worth mentioning that there seemed to be a distinction between the homes in the west and those in the south. In the French region, there are more apartments and newer properties, with some outstanding options.

While in the Italian south, most of the properties are houses – and you need to inspect well because some will need a lot of work.

Research services – You should definitely check carefully the property’s location – some are not connected to basic services or even roads.

Renovation costs – Almost all of the properties we found were ‘renovation projects’. Some can turn out to be very good investments, but it takes time and work to renovate. Before buying, get an estimate of the likely works so you can see whether the property really will save you money in the long term, and be honest about your level of DIY/building skills and how much work you are willing or able to do.

Extra costs – Besides renovating costs, you must be mindful of property taxes and other living costs and how much they are in the region where you are buying property. Prices can vary quite widely depending on the canton, so research well.

You can check all our Property in Switzerland stories here.

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