Filing tax returns in Switzerland as an international person can feel like trying to navigate a maze. Luckily some people “speak tax” and can guide us through the fiscal world.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Ledure, managing partner of taxadvice. They are located in the heart of Nyon and specialise in international tax for individuals. She tells me about her own professional journey, taxadvice and its values and services. She also gives some tips we can apply for ourselves.
Living in Nyon: Christine, thank you for speaking to me today. I’m looking forward to hearing more about you and taxadvice. Could you tell me a little bit more about yourself and how you came to the very niche field of international tax?
Christine Ledure: I came to this field by chance. I’m originally from Belgium where I studied law. My family and I moved to Geneva where I studied international law and human rights law. I was offered the possibility to work at taxadvice part-time by the former owner. This was a great opportunity for me as it allowed me to continue working with the international side of the law and combine my family life as I had 3 young children at the time, of which one was a newborn.
As the company grew it was decided that I would eventually take over from the former owner. I learned all about tax law; but also how to organise the company, how to run the business and how to be an entrepreneur. She retired in 2017 and I took over as planned.
She would call me her “successoeur”, a play on the French word “successeur” but the last part reflected the sisterly aspect of our collaboration.
LIN: That’s a powerful picture, and it leads nicely into the company culture aspect and the values of taxadvice as a company. Could you elaborate a little more on that?
CL: The company culture is based on sharing. For example, we share information, skills, responsibilities. There are always two of us working for a client so as to provide the best service in terms of knowledge but also accessibility for our clients.
And we don’t judge. Our clients are persons who have to feel comfortable giving us all the necessary information in order for us to suggest the best and most appropriate solutions for them. It can be a complex field and we really want to keep the proximity with them and build a relationship based on mutual trust.
LIN: What are the services you offer, specifically for individuals?
CL: In the end it’s always about individuals. Whether the person is coming for their family matters or their company. The legal status may vary but it’s always about the needs of the individual.
It’s difficult to say what a “typical” service is. It’s all highly personalised. But for example, when preparing tax returns on behalf of our clients, our process is created in the way that we need to gather all the information up front. We then ask questions and make sure that there is not some relevant information that has been forgotten. Everything is reflected in your tax returns and people don’t always realise that.
The tax return process is ongoing throughout the year. It gives us the opportunity to plan for the future for our customers and help them optimise their future taxes on the basis of facts and opportunities we have noticed when preparing their tax returns. We can help avoid tax pitfalls too according to their projects, or if they are facing major changes in their personal or professional life.
LIN: The company has been growing steadily for the past years. In your opinion, what has allowed you to keep up the growth curve and keep developing?
CL: It’s very simple I believe. It’s all about excellence, proximity and high-level service.
LIN: It’s interesting because there is a clear connection between you mentioning the international aspect that appealed to you in law in the first place and the human rights law. You are in the international tax field today, but both elements remain very present!
CL: This is exactly what makes things very, very interesting! Every day we meet people in different emotional states. Some are happy, others are anxious. It’s a very personal process and we need to be sensitive to that. We also need to understand everything in order to best “defend” them. Some of our clients have been with us for over 25 years, as a tax consultant it’s not just about filling in some forms. It’s about thinking ahead. We offer our clients peace of mind!
LIN: And how has our current sanitary crisis impacted the fiscal world?
CL: Working from home has been a big topic as a result of the pandemic. If you do not work from your usual workplace, this may involve different compliance, tax and social security obligations, both for the employer and/or the employee. Not only internationally active companies but also smaller companies and expatriates may see a big difference which in turn can generate shifts in HR policies as well. International tax policies will certainly need to consider consequences of digitalization on individuals’ taxation, and not only on GAFA’s or multinational companies’ taxation.
People with international statuses are where we really have the biggest expertise. International taxation of income from employment and international social security is a topic that is close to my heart. That’s because it’s what I have done most of my research on and it’s a topic I give a lecture on at university. Besides that, I myself was an expatriate which gives me first-hand experience.
LIN: In that sense, are there any tips you have for our readers in terms of filing the tax returns?
CL: What’s really important is that you look at your tax returns as a reflection of your life. Factor it all in there and gather up the information properly. Ask yourself, what has changed in my life over the last year? Do I have any projects in the near future? Do they affect my present tax return, or my future tax situation in some way?
Before you go into the details of the numbers, look at your life as a whole to get a much better picture of how best to go about filing your taxes.
LIN: That’s interesting indeed. Take a step back and look at the longer-term picture, and how it reflects in your taxes. What would you suggest for our readers who are interested in some more information or support?
CL: Our site has a good overview of the services we offer, but the best is really just to give us a call and let us know what you are looking for. We can then organise a meeting to give you more information based on your context.
Thank you so much Christine for the crash course on international tax! Get in touch with Christine and her team here for more information.