The federal government, the states, and the local authorities (e.g. cities) levy taxes. Federal income tax is the highest. State income tax is significantly lower. Some states do not levy income tax at all.

The applicable tax regime and legal provisions differ depending on whether the foreigner concerned is a resident or a non-resident. Green card holders are considered residents, as are people who have spent at least 31 days in the current year and at least 183 days in the last two years in the US. (One third of days spent in the US the previous year and one sixth of those of the year preceding the previous year are counted here.)

Double taxation

There is an agreement between Switzerland and the US to avoid the double taxation of income. The agreement only applies to US federal income tax:

  • Individuals domiciled in Switzerland who are temporarily in the US and work for a Swiss employer are only taxed in the US if their stay exceeds 183 days.
  • Apprentices and students who are in the US solely for educational purposes do not have to pay tax on study and maintenance allowances they receive as income from outside the US.
  • Individuals domiciled in the US can reclaim Swiss withholding tax levied on dividends and interest in whole or in part under certain conditions. In addition, a Swiss-US double taxation agreement on inheritance tax has been in effect since 1951.


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