By Peter Ehrler, Elected Member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad for New Zealand
In Switzerland, women receive the AHV (OASI = Old Age and Survivor’s Insurance) pension from the age of 64 and men from the age of 65. This might change in the future.
With regards to the OASI, you may withdraw your pension 1 or 2 years ahead of time. This means that women can apply for the pension at the age of 62 and men at the age of 63.
Applying for the OASI earlier (maximum 2 years) will however reduce your pension throughout retirement (for the rest of your life). The reduction is 6.8% (one year earlier) or 13.6% (two years earlier). All the relevant information concerning your OASI pension can be obtained online.
We all know about the unfair deduction of Swiss pension from New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) when receiving NZS at the age of 65. According to the present policy and practice of the New Zealand authorities, our Swiss pension originating from compulsory contributions while working in Switzerland, is deducted from the NZS by the New Zealand authorities. On the other hand, voluntary contributions to the OASI pension scheme (Freiwillige AHV) are no longer deducted from NZS.
If one intends to apply (it is not compulsory) for NZS in New Zealand when reaching the age of 65, well aware of the fact that the Swiss pension, or part of it, will be deducted, one could consider the option of applying for the Swiss pension (OASI) one or two years in advance, for women at the present moment this would be up to 3 years before reaching the age of 65. Until this point of time the reduced OASI amount cannot be deducted and is regarded as normal income and taxable in NZ as such. This means that for maximum 2 years (men) or 3 years (woman) one would be receiving a slightly reduced Swiss pension without the New Zealand government getting their hands on it. Once receiving the NZS the “robbing” of your Swiss pension will commence unless policy in New Zealand changes.
A woman takes her Swiss pension at the age of 62 (2 years ahead and 3 years before reaching 65). Say she never paid any voluntary contribution and having been in New Zealand for a considerable period of time, her pension from Switzerland is, say NZ$ 700 a month.
Taking the pension 2 years ahead means a reduction of NZ$ 95.20 per month (13.6%). She will thus receive NZ$ 604.80 a month before New Zealand tax. Over a period of three years until eligible for NZS this amounts to a total of NZ$21’772.80.
Once reaching the age of 65 and applying for NZS, the New Zealand authorities will then reduce her NZS by NZ$ 604.80 per month. In other words, she will receive NZS but will lose her Swiss Pension as such. If she did not apply for an early Swiss pension, the full amount of NZ$700 would be deducted from NZS.
Considering a solution such as just mentioned above would have the advantage that, before 65 years of age, the slightly reduced Swiss pension is yours (minus tax) and at 65 the New Zealand government will receive (pickpocket) 13.6% less then they would if you waited until the normal pension age.
You will however need to take into consideration the possibility that one day Section 70 might be abolished and thus hopefully people will be able to keep their overseas pension. I personally think it will be abolished sometime in the future, but not tomorrow. When this happens, you should be entitled to NZS or part of NZS, depending on the solution the New Zealand government comes up with. However, your Swiss pension will continue to be paid out on top at the reduced scale (%) mentioned above.
I would like to clearly emphasise that this article is my personal standpoint and that every person needs to look in detail at his or her personal situation, as no case is the same as the other. There are so many factors to be taken into consideration if one intends to take the OASI in advance such as: the eligible OASI amount due, voluntary contribution, family situation, financial situation in general, just to mention a few.
Elected Member of the Swiss Abroad
Representing New Zealand
The legislative body of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), met for its biannual meeting at the town hall in Bern on 23 March 2019. For the second time, the meeting followed on an exchange with Swiss parliamentarians for an update on political issues with relevance for the Swiss Abroad.
From 13 April to 29 September 2019, the Swiss Abroad will be featured in the Swiss History Forum in Schwyz as part of the exhibition ‘Switzerland elsewhere’.
Canton Geneva has announced it can no longer afford to bear the cost of an e-voting system and plans to abandon the project, according to Swiss public radio, RTS. This leaves only one other e-voting project still standing in Switzerland run by Swiss Post.
Read the full Swissinfo report here
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney and the Embassy of Switzerland in Wellington inform that they plan to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Auckland (May)
• Northland (May – only if sufficient interest)
• Perth (first half of April)
• Melbourne (October)
Saturday, 15 September saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the third time in Victoria. 15 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and therefore have become fully-fletched Swiss citizens with all the rights and obligations that this entails, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by their mums and dads, grandparents and brothers and sisters.
The Valais city of Visp hosted the 2018 Congress of the Swiss Abroad and assembly of the Council of the Swiss Abroad from August 10- 12. The social program included an excursion to the Ryffelberg-Gornergrat on the final day.
Members of the Council of the Swiss Abroad meeting in the town of Visp on Friday, 10 August approved plans to launch an online petition calling for the introduction of e-voting over the next three years. Oceania was represented at the meeting by Katja Wallimann Gates and Beat Knoblauch (pictured), Peter Ehrler and Peter Canziani.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 28 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) welcomes the Federal Council’s decision to commission the Federal Chancellery with the preparation of a project that makes e-voting a regular voting option. This decision represents a significant step forward in the introduction of e-voting and recognises it as a safe and reliable option. For Swiss Abroad, this e-voting is often the only way to exercise their political rights.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 13 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) representing the interests of 751,800 compatriots living abroad, is disappointed that the Council of States today rejected Motion 17.3626 by 30 votes to 9 with 4 abstentions. The Council of States has decided not to follow the majority of its Foreign Policy Commission (APK-S) and has rejected a motion calling on PostFinance to accept Swiss Abroad on similar terms as citizens residing in Switzerland. The problem that has existed for our compatriots living abroad for ten years remains unresolved.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 30 May 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is relieved that the Council of States has today decided to follow the recommendation of its Commission on Social Security and Health (SGK-S) to delete the amendment to Article 4 (1) in the context of the supplementary benefits reform. This means that the current rules remain in place. Last March, the National Council approved an application whereby Swiss Abroad would have had to pay social security contributions (AHV) for at least ten years in order to qualify for supplementary benefits, which would have discriminated against Swiss Abroad.