Trusts are unknown under Swiss law and family foundations are not commonly used because their purpose is very limited by law. Consequently, many Swiss trust companies, family offices or lawyers act as trustees of non-Swiss trusts or as members of family foundations. It is not uncommon for trustees, trusts or foundations, and underlying companies to be established under the laws of different jurisdictions, and typically Liechtenstein is used.
Foreign trusts and foundations, foreign trustees and underlying holding companies that invest in the U.S. must determine their classification under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“F.A.T.C.A.”) and possibly a relevant intergovernmental agreement (“I.G.A.”). In the case of Switzerland, a Model 2 I.G.A. exists.
The determination must be made prior to the end of June 2014, even if no U.S. owners or beneficiaries are involved. The reason is that, by 1 July 2014, a foreign entity that is a Foreign Financial Institution (“F.F.I.”) must register on the I.R.S. F.A.T.C.A. portal and receive a G.I.I.N. The I.R.S. has announced that the last date to register and receive a G.I.I.N. prior to 1 July 2014 is 5 May. Registration is required unless the F.F.I. is a certified deemed-compliant F.F.I. or a Non-Financial Foreign Entity (“N.F.F.E.”). An exempt F.F.I. could be a sponsored investment entity, a sponsored closely held investment vehicle, or an owner-documented F.F.I. In each of those fact patterns, another entity is engaged to carry out the F.A.T.C.A. reporting. An N.F.F.E. is an entity that is formed outside the U.S. that is not an F.F.I.