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The Swiss Charitable Foundation

Herman Krul

With all these organisations active in Switzerland, it is natural that the Swiss Charitable Foundation is a frequently used entity; a large number of them actively cooperating with the various GO/NGOs.

The combination of a favourable tax regime and a regulated environment is an advantageous one. In addition, the Federal Circulars of December 1990 and July 1994 provide a clear description of the relevant requirements. These factors combined make the Swiss Charitable Foundation an effective estate planning vehicle, that is suitable for charitable, international and philanthropist activities. A growing number of High Net Worth Individuals use the Swiss Charitable Foundation for their private inheritance planning.

The specific requirements are as follows:

  • Creation
The deeds of a Foundation need to be executed by a public notary, the Foundation is then registered at the Registry of Commerce to acquire legal personality. In general a minimum initial capital of CHF 50.000 is requested.

  • Taxation
When the Foundation is exclusively in the public interest, it can obtain a tax exemption (federal and cantonal), and as such gifts made and/or received by the foundation are tax-exempt. Being dedicated to public interest means, amongst others, that the Foundation  should have activities in charitable, humanitarian, educational, cultural, health or scientific  areas. In addition it cannot have any lucrative business involvement and the range of beneficiaries cannot be limited. The attribution of resources is irrevocable.

  • Operation
A minimum of three board members must be appointed. At least one of them has to be resident in Switzerland. Family members with appropriate qualifications can become a member. Foundations which operate on an international basis are usually supervised by the Federal Authorities. An annual management report needs to be issued by the Board. Auditors must be appointed to approve the annual financial accounts.

The Swiss Charitable Foundation is a well organised, reputable and effective estate planning entity, which is particularly suitable for international philanthropy.

ATC's Geneva office has wide ranging experience of setting up and administering these Foundations. Please get in touch for any further information required.
Switzerland is well known for its large number of international governmental and non-governmental organisations. A lot of these GO/NGOs are active in the field of human assistance for people and countries with a large variety of problems, for example the WHO (World Health Organisation), ICRC (International Red Cross), Unicef, UNHCR , WFP (World Food Program), and so on.
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