My heirs live abroad. Do they have to pay inheritance tax abroad or in Switzerland?

My relatives live abroad. When I pass away, I would like to favour cousins in my will. Do they have to pay inheritance tax in Switzerland or abroad?

Your heirs are liable for tax in the canton where the deceased was last resident (spouses/registered partners are, however, exempt from inheritance tax in all cantons and descendants in most cantons). Depending on the country in which the heirs live, additional taxes may apply there.

Almost all cantons in Switzerland levy an inheritance tax of varying amounts. The tax rate is generally based on the degree of kinship or proximity to the deceased. Close relatives can benefit from tax relief or exemptions.

Usually, taxation principles are quite similar: the tax liability exists in particular if the deceased’s last place of residence was in the canton or the inheritance was opened in the canton. In international relations, tax liability also exists if movable assets located in the canton are transferred or if real estate or rights to real estate located in the canton are transferred.

Whether the heirs or beneficiaries must also pay a comparable tax abroad is determined by foreign law. In addition, any double taxation agreements between Switzerland and the countries of residence of the heirs may apply.

More about this topic
How do I draw up a will as a Swiss abroad?
Inheritance tax Switzerland – An overview of the cantons
Inheritance and gift taxes hit non-relatives harder
Exemption from inheritance tax and gift taxes in Switzerland

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