The English language version is created automatically. The text may therefore contain linguistic and terminological errors.

Isabelle Homberger Good

VAT pitfalls with trusts and foundations


Workshop on "VAT pitfalls with trusts and foundations" by Isabelle Homberger Gut on the occasion of the ISIS seminar "Structuring private wealth by means of trusts or foundations" on October 31, 2023.

The complete PDF of the seminar folder can be downloaded for CHF
The corresponding case solutions can be purchased for CHF
(introductory price)
can be purchased in the shop.
The workshops are also available individually in the "Documents" section.
The case solutions and other documents can be obtained free of charge in the shop.

Case 1: Foundation domiciled in Switzerland

1. facts of the case

A foundation was established in November 2019 by Mrs. & Mr. Meyer, residing in Bern, to help children with rare diseases. Indeed, their own daughter had died a few years earlier at the age of 16 from one of these rare diseases without being able to receive adequate treatment.

The aim of the foundation is therefore to promote research and development of new therapeutic solutions and generally improve medical care for patients with incurable rare diseases. The foundation has its headquarters in Bern.

Among other things, the foundation seeks partnerships with physicians and the pharmaceutical industry who are willing to invest in research into new treatments. Many partnerships are concluded with physicians abroad. For this reason, the contracts that govern these collaborations are almost always drawn up by lawyers based abroad, who address their fees to the foundation. The logo of the foundation and the design of the website were created by a company based in Munich. In order to reach as many people as possible, a small brochure explaining the Foundation's mission, values and needs was created and displayed in various hospitals and doctors' offices. The said brochure was translated into various languages by a Warsaw-based freelance translator.

To promote its work to physicians, the foundation organized a conference in February 2021. This conference could only take place online due to the health situation. The foundation therefore received invoices from Google and Zoom, among others, so that the conference could take place online.

The provider for the logo and the website invoiced an amount of CHF 12,000 in 2020. The lawyers invoiced CHF 5,000 in 2020 and CHF 8,000 in 2021 for their services The amount invoiced by the translator in 2021 was the equivalent of CHF 3,500 Finally, the costs associated with setting up the online conference, costs for providers such as Google, Zoom, etc. amounted to CHF 5,000 These costs were all invoiced in 2021.


  1. Do you see any obligation in terms of VAT and if so, what is it?
  2. What is the problem here?
  3. You are the trustee of this foundation, what advice do you give him?

Case 2: Revocable trust

1. facts of the case

A Luxembourg-based asset manager invoices the trust for its fees for the asset management of the trust. The trust was established under Anglo-Saxon law. The asset manager invoices his fees on a quarterly basis. They amount to approximately EUR 5,000 per quarter. The settlors are three brothers, one of whom resides in London, the other in Geneva and the third in Zurich.


  1. Possible impact on Swiss VAT?
  2. Variant: Changes somewhat if the asset manager is a bank domiciled in Switzerland.

Case 3: Irrevocable trust

1. facts of the case

Mr. Thomas, resident in Lucerne, has established an irrevocable trust in June 2020. In the trust deed, he names his two children and their own children as beneficiaries. If there are no more beneficiaries, the trustee will allocate the assets to the non-profit institution "Families in Need" based in Lucerne. Currently, Mr. Thomas' daughter lives in Stuttgart with her husband and their three children. Mr. Thomas' son lives in Zurich. He is divorced and has two children living with him (residing with the father). The trustee is resident in Lucerne.


  1. To which country should the trust be assigned and what are the criteria?
  2. The trust company X AG, domiciled in Lucerne, is entrusted with certain specific administrative and accounting tasks in connection with the trust (support of the trustee). Do the invoices it issues to the trustee or trust have to be subject to Swiss VAT?

Please change your browser!

Microsoft Internet Explorer uses outdated web standards and is no longer supported by our platform. For an optimal display of the zsis) we recommend that you use one of the following browsers.
For more information about the outdated technology of Internet Explorer and the resulting risks, please visit the blog of Chris Jackson (Principal Program Manager at Microsoft).