How to file your taxes with Swiss and foreign securities

Mr. The Poor Swiss | Updated: | Investing
How to file your taxes with Swiss and foreign securities

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One question I get often is how to file taxes with stocks and dividends. And this especially gets popular when we add foreign stocks and foreign dividends into the mix.

Many people are afraid of investing because they think it will make it complicated to file your taxes. But in practice, it is not complicated to file your taxes even with a large ETF portfolio.

In this article, we will see how to file your taxes with Swiss Stocks and dividends, which is very simple. And with U.S. Stocks and dividends, which is slightly more complicated.

Filing taxes

In Switzerland, taxes are different for each state. Each of the states has its own software and forms to complete your tax form. However, most of the forms are very similar and have similar names. So, if you can file your taxes in one state, you should not have many issues filing them in another state.

Since taxes are different from each state in Switzerland, I need to take an example. So, I am going to take Fribourg as an example and with the Fritax 2020 software. You can use this example to file your taxes for your own state. The concepts should be the same for each state, but the software to fill them will be slightly different.

Some of the Swiss tax apps are better than others. I have not tested many of them, but from what I have seen, Fritax is probably average. It is not always intuitive, but it is relatively easy to use.

Unfortunately, Fritax is not available in English. So I will use the French version for my screenshots. The forms will be the same in German as well.

If you do not know why I am using U.S. ETFs, you may want to learn about the advantages of U.S. ETFs. They are related to how you are going to file your taxes with U.S. securities.

Swiss Securities

First, let’s start to see how to declare Swiss securities. These are the securities that are subject to the Swiss dividend withholding taxes. Indeed, the Swiss tax office will withhold 35% of the dividends. Your broker will do this directly.

In your tax declaration, you will have a form to enter all your assets (bank accounts, bonds, stocks, and lottery gains). In my French software, this is called “Etat des titres”, which translates to “State of the securities”.

Here is the form before filling it:

Filing your Swiss Taxes "State of securities" form
Filing your Swiss Taxes “State of securities” form

In this form, you will have to list all of your Swiss securities, whether stocks or ETFs. Since I am recommending investments in ETFs, I will take an ETF as an example. But you would do exactly the same with a stock. For example, I will use CHSPI, the Swiss ETF I am using in my portfolio.

You will need to indicate that this is a security (choice 3) in the first column on each line. You then need to indicate that this is a private asset (choice P) in the second column.

Then, you can press the “Listes des cours” (Lists of prices) to search for the prices of a security. This assistant will help you with your dividends and prices. You can enter the ISIN number of your ETF and press search (Chercher). For instance, the ISIN number of CHSPI is CH0237935652. You can find the ISIN number of each ETF on the website of the fund provider.

Then, you will see all the taxable income for this security. You can enter the number of shares, and the buy date, and the taxable value, and the taxable dividend will be calculated for you. For instance:

Compute the dividends of a security when you file your taxes
Compute the dividends of a security when you file your taxes

The date will be taken into account to compute the dividends for this security. If you enter a date that is after some dividends have been issues, they will not be considered. And they will automatically compute the taxable wealth with the value of the security at the end of the year.

Here is an example of what this could look like.

An example of securities for your taxes
An example of securities for your taxes

The totals are automatically going to be done at the end of the form. And these values are going to be propagated into the rest of the forms.

If you already have securities before the beginning of the year, you have two options. If you are filing your taxes right after year without losing your tax declaration, you can keep all the buy operations from the previous year. Or you can use the total number of shares at the beginning of the year with a single entry and a date like the last year of the previous year. I have already done that in the past, and I have never had any issues.

If you have sold securities during the year, you also have to declare them. You can use a purchase date and sold date to let the software compute how much dividends you received before selling the shares. In that case, the software will automatically set the taxable value to zero.

Using ICTax

Unfortunately, not every Swiss taxes software allows you to get all these numbers from inside the app. So, in this case, you will have to use the ICTax website. This is the reference for all the official end-of-year prices and currency conversions to file your taxes. One good thing is that this website is available in English, contrary to the tax software.

You can go to the website and search for the ISIN again:

File your taxes with ICTax: Search the ISIN
File your taxes with ICTax: Search the ISIN

And then, you can click on the ETF of your choosing. After that, you will have to do pretty much the same as before from the tax software. You will be able to enter the number of shares and purchase date. The website will automatically compute the tax value and the gross return. You can then copy these values directly into your tax declaration.

How to use ICTax to help you file your taxes
How to use ICTax to help you file your taxes

It is a little less practical to file your taxes like this than having the software do it for you. But in any case, it should not take you long to complete your Swiss securities.

It is also a good reason to keep your trading limited to a few ETFs. If you are buying many securities during the entire year, you will have to enter many lines. But it is really not as complicated as many people believe.

If your ETF is not on ICTax, you can ask them to add it to the system. But most well-known ETFs should already be there. I have never had an issue so far.

U.S. ETFs / Securities

For U.S. ETFs and securities, it can get a little more complicated because there are a few possible cases.

First, it will depend on which broker you are using. If you are using a Swiss broker, you will pay two deductions:

  • 15% withheld by the Swiss broker
  • 15% directly withheld at source by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

If you are using a broker like Interactive Brokers, you will only see the IRS’s direct deduction. This is a foreign tax.

To claim back the foreign tax, you need to use the DA-1 form. And to claim back the Swiss withholding (if you use a Swiss broker), you need to use the R-US 164 form.

These forms are attachments to the form we covered in the previous section. And they are extremely similar. The difference will be in setting the percentages that you can claim back.

If you are using other foreign securities, the idea remains the same except that the percentages will differ. You will have to find the percentages for both columns for your situation.

In this case, Fritax did an excellent job since they put DA-1 and R-US 164 together. Therefore, there is only a single form to fill for foreign securities. This is a great idea!

Here is the empty combined DA-1 / R-US 164 form:

Empty DA-1 R-US form to file your taxes with foreign securities
Empty DA-1 R-US form to file your taxes with foreign securities

As we can see, it is extremely similar to the previous form. And it works exactly in the same way. You still have to select that this is an action and part of your private net worth. Then, you can use the same assistant to get all the information for your taxes by pressing the “Liste de cours” button on top of the form.

They have all the information, even for U.S. ETFs, such as Vanguard Total World (VT). Here is an example of how to fill it with VT:

Get information Vanguard Total World (VT) for your DA-1 form
Get information Vanguard Total World (VT) for your DA-1 form

Once you have filled a line, you still need to select the country in column 3. This will be US in our case.

Then, you need to update columns 7 and 9 with the percentages for your case. If you are only filling the DA-1 form (with Interactive Brokers), you need to set column 7 to the value 15. If you are filling the R-US 164 form (with a Swiss broker, for instance), you need to set column 9 to the value 15.

Then, the tool will automatically compute how much taxes were withheld in both cases. And Fritax will automatically fill the total.

Here is a filled DA-1 form with both sides filled:

Example of a fille DA-1 form with Vanguard Total World
Example of a filled DA-1 form with Vanguard Total World

If you use Interactive Brokers and only pay 15% of dividends withholding, you can change column 9 to the value 0.

All the other details are the same as for the Swiss securities, so you can look at the previous sections to get all the information. But with the Fritax software, it is really not that bad to file your taxes with foreign securities. As you can see, the DA-1 and R-US 164 forms are almost the same as the standard securities form.

Using ICTax

If your tax software does not have support for getting the values directly from it, you can use the ICTax website for foreign securities too. It will give you all the dividends in CHF and the tax value of your securities at the end of the fiscal year.

This will be done exactly like we did for Swiss securities. For instance, you can search for Vanguard Total World on the website:

Vanguard Total World on ICTax
Vanguard Total World on ICTax

Make sure you choose the Stock version and not the bond version (unless you have both, of course). And then, you can fill it up like before. For instance:

Use ICTax to file your taxes with foreign securities
Use ICTax to file your taxes with foreign securities

Then, you will only have to copy these values into the DA-1 or R-US 164 form and select the correct withholding percentages. It is not more complicated than for Swiss securities.

Conclusion

There you have it! If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to file your taxes with Swiss securities and foreign securities! It is really not as complicated as many people believe.

Even for U.S. Securities, it is not complicated. You will have to fill an extra form (DA-1) in the best case and two in the worst case (DA-1 and R-US 164), but these forms are almost the same as for the Swiss securities. So, I do not think this is a big deal.

Hopefully, this will help you file your taxes with securities.

If you want more information about taxes, I have an in-depth guide about Swiss taxes.

Mr. The Poor Swiss is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

39 thoughts on “How to file your taxes with Swiss and foreign securities”

  1. Could you please explain us the difference between taxing/paying in Switzerland cumulative and noncumulative dividends?
    Does it work the same way?
    Thank you
    Cris

  2. Hi ! Would it be the same procedure if you invested in european ETFs as the swiss explanation? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi mette,

      Yes, I think it should be the same except that nothing will be withheld and you do not have to fill the DA-1 form. You can file it with the standard form and indicate that none of the dividends were subject to withholding.

  3. Good morning,
    nice article! What about someone who doesn’t work in Switzerland (just the wife), and still wants to start investing? ¿does the wife’s income counts towards the rule of non tax on capital gain? and what about the rule of no more than 50% dividends in case someone doesn’t work, but the partner?
    please keep going…

    1. Hi,

      This rule applies to your tax declaration. So, if you pay taxes in Switzerland and you pay taxes together (should be the case if you are married), then the total income applies (yours and your wife’s) to the calculation.

  4. Mr. the poor Suiss,
    Hi. I am wondering to know in cases of shares/ ETFs, dividends loss (from actual or previous year), how to you tax/declare them? do you have any deductions in your tax system? would you please explain how it works.
    Also, I did not get how to declare Cumulative dividends in Switzerland…
    Do you maeby hold a referred link for a new account opening with Ib that may benefit both? Im planning to open one…
    Cheers,
    Cris

    1. Hi Cristiana,

      What are dividends loss? I don’t understand your question. We have plenty of deductions in our tax system, but nothing related to dividends.
      If by cumulative dividends, you mean an ETF that accumulates dividends, they are declared exactly the same way as for distributing.

      1. Than you again for this valuable information.
        Sorry, I meant whenever you have losses in one fiscal year in your portfolio, can you declare them in yous Swiss system? How does this deductions work, at 100%?

        Thanks in advance!

        1. Oh, I get it now!

          No, they are not deductible. Since capital gains are usually tax-free, it makes sense that capital losses are also usually not tax-deductible.
          I say usually, because if you are a professional investor, capital gains will be taxed.

  5. Thanks a lot for this article and many others.

    It seems like a big hassle to file the taxes when it comes to securities. Would you need to file all of this information if you would be considered a non-professional investor?
    Currently I hold a bunch of smaller positions to be well diversified, but that would make taxes a nightmare. Also, would compiling an Excel sheet and attaching that be sufficient?

    It’s a shame the relatively wealthy Swiss people cannot do easily partake on buying fractional shares like the many US platforms offer. There’s a lot more money to be made than holding a few ETF’s.

    Cheers,
    Mark.

    1. Hi Mark,

      It’s indeed a hassle. And yes, you are supposed to file that even though you are not a professional since this data is used to define whether you are a professional investor.
      I have no idea about Excel, I just drop the entire annual statement from IB and it works.
      There are quite a few platforms that allow fractional shares such as IB and FlowBank at least.

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