Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

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Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

Andreas Neumann-4
Dear PSC members and community,

Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption
from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the
letter.

They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by
dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions
for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open
Source works.

This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite
clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is
a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS
software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS
software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in
Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is
only a formality - apparently not.

What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary
efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other
countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?

For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax
payments.

I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices
- should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should
we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from
a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?

Any opinions and suggestions?

Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and
I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office. Apparently,
people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very
powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the
olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations
that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of
voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very
disappointed.

Andreas



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application-for-tax-exemption_negative-response-zurich-tax-office_2018-01.pdf (84K) Download Attachment
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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

Richard Duivenvoorde

Hi Andreas,

Ouch that hurts! So FIFA is less profitable then QGIS??

Shame on those Swiss Tax-people!!!

But do not blame yourself. You put a lot of effort in this.

We do not do 'marketing' of sofware is it? We do promoting of Free
Software, not so much marketing the financial terms?

Let's investigate if other FOSS projects got exemption, maybe even in
other kanton's? My experience with tax stuff is that sometimes you need
the right person on the right place :-(

7.7% ??
Well that is at least better then our dutch 21% :-)

Not sure if moving to another country is worth all the administrative
hassle...

It would be easier for euro payments though too...

Regards, and again, no regrets and thanks for all the work you did!

Richard Duivenvoorde



On 29-01-18 20:51, Andreas Neumann wrote:

> Dear PSC members and community,
>
> Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption
> from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the
> letter.
>
> They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by
> dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
> software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions
> for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open
> Source works.
>
> This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
> list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite
> clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is
> a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS
> software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS
> software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in
> Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is
> only a formality - apparently not.
>
> What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
> organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
> something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
> move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary
> efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other
> countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?
>
> For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
> bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax
> payments.
>
> I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices
> - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should
> we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from
> a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?
>
> Any opinions and suggestions?
>
> Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and
> I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office. Apparently,
> people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very
> powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the
> olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations
> that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of
> voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very
> disappointed.
>
> Andreas
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Qgis-psc mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/qgis-psc
>

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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

3nids
I second that Andreas, thanks for you work!
What a shame for Zürich.



Le lun. 29 janv. 2018 à 16:31, Richard Duivenvoorde <[hidden email]> a écrit :

Hi Andreas,

Ouch that hurts! So FIFA is less profitable then QGIS??

Shame on those Swiss Tax-people!!!

But do not blame yourself. You put a lot of effort in this.

We do not do 'marketing' of sofware is it? We do promoting of Free
Software, not so much marketing the financial terms?

Let's investigate if other FOSS projects got exemption, maybe even in
other kanton's? My experience with tax stuff is that sometimes you need
the right person on the right place :-(

7.7% ??
Well that is at least better then our dutch 21% :-)

Not sure if moving to another country is worth all the administrative
hassle...

It would be easier for euro payments though too...

Regards, and again, no regrets and thanks for all the work you did!

Richard Duivenvoorde



On 29-01-18 20:51, Andreas Neumann wrote:
> Dear PSC members and community,
>
> Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption
> from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the
> letter.
>
> They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by
> dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
> software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions
> for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open
> Source works.
>
> This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
> list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite
> clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is
> a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS
> software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS
> software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in
> Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is
> only a formality - apparently not.
>
> What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
> organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
> something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
> move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary
> efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other
> countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?
>
> For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
> bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax
> payments.
>
> I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices
> - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should
> we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from
> a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?
>
> Any opinions and suggestions?
>
> Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and
> I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office. Apparently,
> people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very
> powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the
> olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations
> that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of
> voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very
> disappointed.
>
> Andreas
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Qgis-psc mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/qgis-psc
>

_______________________________________________
Qgis-psc mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/qgis-psc

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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

Andreas Neumann-3
In reply to this post by Richard Duivenvoorde
Hi,

As a first action I am now contacting an Open Source lobbying group in Berne to see what they think and ask them for help.

At the same time, we should investigate if there are more Open Source friendly Cantons or countries around. Personally, I have no problem moving the domicile of the organization if we find a better solution.

Andreas

On 29 January 2018 at 21:31, Richard Duivenvoorde <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi Andreas,

Ouch that hurts! So FIFA is less profitable then QGIS??

Shame on those Swiss Tax-people!!!

But do not blame yourself. You put a lot of effort in this.

We do not do 'marketing' of sofware is it? We do promoting of Free
Software, not so much marketing the financial terms?

Let's investigate if other FOSS projects got exemption, maybe even in
other kanton's? My experience with tax stuff is that sometimes you need
the right person on the right place :-(

7.7% ??
Well that is at least better then our dutch 21% :-)

Not sure if moving to another country is worth all the administrative
hassle...

It would be easier for euro payments though too...

Regards, and again, no regrets and thanks for all the work you did!

Richard Duivenvoorde



On 29-01-18 20:51, Andreas Neumann wrote:
> Dear PSC members and community,
>
> Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption
> from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the
> letter.
>
> They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by
> dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
> software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions
> for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open
> Source works.
>
> This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
> list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite
> clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is
> a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS
> software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS
> software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in
> Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is
> only a formality - apparently not.
>
> What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
> organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
> something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
> move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary
> efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other
> countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?
>
> For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
> bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax
> payments.
>
> I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices
> - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should
> we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from
> a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?
>
> Any opinions and suggestions?
>
> Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and
> I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office. Apparently,
> people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very
> powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the
> olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations
> that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of
> voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very
> disappointed.
>
> Andreas
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Qgis-psc mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/qgis-psc
>

_______________________________________________
Qgis-psc mailing list
[hidden email]
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--

--
Andreas Neumann
QGIS.ORG board member (treasurer)

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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

Tim Sutton-6
In reply to this post by Andreas Neumann-4
Hi Andreas

Beyond agreeing with Richard's comments, I would add:



On Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 9:51 PM, Andreas Neumann <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear PSC members and community,

Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the letter.

They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open Source works.

This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is only a formality - apparently not.

What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think, something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?

For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3 bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax payments.

​Doesnt your tax law work that you pay tax only on profit? If we can show that all the funds are used during the year does it mean we would not pay any tax?​

 

I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?

​I would propose to roll it into the total (so we keep 461.5) - we should also make it clear to people donating and sponsoring that a portion of their contribution will be lost to tax.​

 

Any opinions and suggestions?

Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office.

​How can we accept an apology that never needed to be made in the first place? I can only thank you for all the effort you have put into this!​

 
Apparently, people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very disappointed.


​Yeah it is a bit of a blow - lets regroup and think what we can do next. Maybe you have a friendly tax guru there who knows how to appeal the process? Otherwise lets work on the assumption for now that we will have to pay taxes - your VAT rate is at least surprisingly low....:-P

Regards

Tim​

 


Andreas



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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

jmckenna
Administrator
In reply to this post by Andreas Neumann-4
Dear Andreas,

As someone who was in your shoes for many years for OSGeo, I must say to
not be discouraged.

 From my years of talking with other foundation leaders and watching,
listening etc, I've noticed some interesting points:

- in 2017 a non-profit foundation did a lot of research and chose
Singapore as the best place to register for many reasons including tax
exempt status: https://blog.ghost.org/moving-to-singapore/

- a 2017 article on several different non-profit organizations in Europe
and why they chose a specific country to register (Netherlands, Germany,
etc): https://lwn.net/Articles/713073/

Also, even OSGeo's history, and reasons, can help give ideas as you
travel down this path:



It took the OSGeo foundation 8 long years of battling, to finally
achieve tax exempt status (credit to the early work of Tyler and
Daniel).  To be fully honest, even in the 8th year we were stuck, but
all along I was talking to other foundations, watching what was
happening, asking questions to other leaders, back and forth; then one
day in 2014 I noticed another foundation, OpenNTF, mention of their own
success by changing to a "Social Welfare Organization" for the IRS tax
people.  I mentioned this to the OSGeo Board, and our lawyer changed our
application to that type, and our tax exempt application was quickly
approved.  (!!?!!)

Now you might say 'yes but OSGeo is registered in the United States,
what similarities are there for here' but I really feel that getting to
know why OSGeo (and other foundations) choose to register in one
location over another, can really help QGIS.ORG down this path.  For
example, why do most fortune500 companies register in the U.S. state of
Delaware (as OSGeo did):
https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2016/11/01_leitner.html

That article lists many reasons, that you could use as check points in
your search for QGIS.ORG and the right location.

(to be fully honest and open here, as a Canadian I too often wondered
why OSGeo chose, of all places, to register in Delaware, but after a
long time I can understand the reasons why, as I'm not a lawyer at all)

Hope some of that history helps.

-jeff



On 2018-01-29 3:51 PM, Andreas Neumann wrote:

> Dear PSC members and community,
>
> Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption
> from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the
> letter.
>
> They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by
> dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
> software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions
> for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open
> Source works.
>
> This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
> list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite
> clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is
> a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS
> software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS
> software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in
> Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is
> only a formality - apparently not.
>
> What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
> organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
> something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
> move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary
> efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other
> countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?
>
> For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
> bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax
> payments.
>
> I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices
> - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should
> we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from
> a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?
>
> Any opinions and suggestions?
>
> Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and
> I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office. Apparently,
> people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very
> powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the
> olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations
> that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of
> voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very
> disappointed.
>
> Andreas
>
>
>
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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

pcav
Hi all,
thanks Andreas for updating us, and for all your work on this.
I believe we should not surrender, and try again to let them understand
our good reasons. It is a plain fact that we are not, nor intend to be,
a commercial entity of any sort.
In the worst case, we might even consider moving under a more favourable
legislation. Apart from the financial impact on our budget, we should
also consider that missing a nonprofit status will make donation much
less attractive in several countries, so it is worth insisting or
finding alternatives.
I realize this will imply more burden on Andreas shoulders, and I'm
ready to help if useful.
All the best.

Il 29/01/2018 23:09, Jeff McKenna ha scritto:

> Dear Andreas,
>
> As someone who was in your shoes for many years for OSGeo, I must say to
> not be discouraged.
>
> From my years of talking with other foundation leaders and watching,
> listening etc, I've noticed some interesting points:
>
> - in 2017 a non-profit foundation did a lot of research and chose
> Singapore as the best place to register for many reasons including tax
> exempt status: https://blog.ghost.org/moving-to-singapore/
>
> - a 2017 article on several different non-profit organizations in Europe
> and why they chose a specific country to register (Netherlands, Germany,
> etc): https://lwn.net/Articles/713073/
>
> Also, even OSGeo's history, and reasons, can help give ideas as you
> travel down this path:
>
>
>
> It took the OSGeo foundation 8 long years of battling, to finally
> achieve tax exempt status (credit to the early work of Tyler and
> Daniel).  To be fully honest, even in the 8th year we were stuck, but
> all along I was talking to other foundations, watching what was
> happening, asking questions to other leaders, back and forth; then one
> day in 2014 I noticed another foundation, OpenNTF, mention of their own
> success by changing to a "Social Welfare Organization" for the IRS tax
> people.  I mentioned this to the OSGeo Board, and our lawyer changed our
> application to that type, and our tax exempt application was quickly
> approved.  (!!?!!)
>
> Now you might say 'yes but OSGeo is registered in the United States,
> what similarities are there for here' but I really feel that getting to
> know why OSGeo (and other foundations) choose to register in one
> location over another, can really help QGIS.ORG down this path.  For
> example, why do most fortune500 companies register in the U.S. state of
> Delaware (as OSGeo did):
> https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2016/11/01_leitner.html
>
> That article lists many reasons, that you could use as check points in
> your search for QGIS.ORG and the right location.
>
> (to be fully honest and open here, as a Canadian I too often wondered
> why OSGeo chose, of all places, to register in Delaware, but after a
> long time I can understand the reasons why, as I'm not a lawyer at all)
>
> Hope some of that history helps.
>
> -jeff
>
>
>
> On 2018-01-29 3:51 PM, Andreas Neumann wrote:
>> Dear PSC members and community,
>>
>> Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax
>> exemption from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I
>> attach the letter.
>>
>> They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent,
>> by dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
>> software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax
>> exemptions for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't
>> understand how Open Source works.
>>
>> This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
>> list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow
>> quite clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that
>> there is a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to
>> make GIS software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford
>> to use GIS software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax
>> exemption in Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in
>> Switzerland is only a formality - apparently not.
>>
>> What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
>> organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
>> something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
>> move our organization to a country that better values all the
>> voluntary efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any
>> suggestions of other countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?
>>
>> For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
>> bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for
>> tax payments.
>>
>> I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship
>> invoices - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship
>> amounts, or should we declare that the sponsorship already includes
>> VAT, meaning that from a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?
>>
>> Any opinions and suggestions?
>>
>> Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter -
>> and I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office.
>> Apparently, people and organizations are not "equal" in my country.
>> While very powerful organizations like the world soccer organization
>> (FIFA), the olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt -
>> organizations that have turnovers in the billions - small
>> organizations with lots of voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax
>> exempt. I am personally very disappointed.
>>
>> Andreas
>>
>>
>>
> _______________________________________________
> Qgis-psc mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/qgis-psc


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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

Andreas Neumann-4

Hi all,

Thanks all for the encouragement and ideas and links to how others dealt with similar issues.

I am now digging more into the issue. Even if we are not tax exempt, it means that we don't have to pay taxes on donations, because there is no direct service in return from QGIS.ORG. The same holds true for sponsoring - if - and this would mean a change of our practice - we don't do advertising for the sponsors. I dived into the VAT law, and it mentions that a simple listing of sponsors is ok, also with their location and logo. However, we wouldn't be allowed to mention what the sposor does (e.g. company active in area xy) and we wouldn't be allowed to link to the sponsors web page. Linking to a sponsors web page counts as advertising.

See also https://www.gate.estv.admin.ch/mwst-webpublikationen/public/pages/taxInfos/cipherDisplay.xhtml?publicationId=1000283&componentId=1000543&lang=de&winid=520820 (german, but also available in french or italian).

So what would it mean for us? If we remove the links to the sponsors web pages from https://www.qgis.org/en/site/about/sponsorship.html and the visual changelogs (e.g. https://www.qgis.org/en/site/forusers/visualchangelog218/index.html#sponsors-for-qgis-version-2-18-0) then we don't have to pay taxes on the sponsorships either. Would this be acceptable? Note that this is only a problem for commercial sponsors - local government organizations or non-profit donors can be linked. However, if we decide to remove the URLs, I think we should better remove them from all sponsors.

Most likely, this will make sponsoring a bit less attractive to our "commercial" sponsors, but maybe it isn't a problem to many of them. On the plus side, this would probably mean that we wouldn't be contacted by dubious organizations/companies who only want visibility/URL exchange are aren't involved in the spatial domain.

I will also do a phone call today to the person involved at the tax office to double check if my findings above are true.

Given that our income depends  to > 95% on donations and sponsorships and if we don't do advertising for the sponsors, it would probably mean that taxes only have to be paid for our training certificates. This would be marginal and not a problem.

Opinions?

Greetings,

Andreas

On 2018-01-30 07:34, Paolo Cavallini wrote:

Hi all,
thanks Andreas for updating us, and for all your work on this.
I believe we should not surrender, and try again to let them understand
our good reasons. It is a plain fact that we are not, nor intend to be,
a commercial entity of any sort.
In the worst case, we might even consider moving under a more favourable
legislation. Apart from the financial impact on our budget, we should
also consider that missing a nonprofit status will make donation much
less attractive in several countries, so it is worth insisting or
finding alternatives.
I realize this will imply more burden on Andreas shoulders, and I'm
ready to help if useful.
All the best.

Il 29/01/2018 23:09, Jeff McKenna ha scritto:
Dear Andreas,

As someone who was in your shoes for many years for OSGeo, I must say to
not be discouraged.

From my years of talking with other foundation leaders and watching,
listening etc, I've noticed some interesting points:

- in 2017 a non-profit foundation did a lot of research and chose
Singapore as the best place to register for many reasons including tax
exempt status: https://blog.ghost.org/moving-to-singapore/

- a 2017 article on several different non-profit organizations in Europe
and why they chose a specific country to register (Netherlands, Germany,
etc): https://lwn.net/Articles/713073/

Also, even OSGeo's history, and reasons, can help give ideas as you
travel down this path:



It took the OSGeo foundation 8 long years of battling, to finally
achieve tax exempt status (credit to the early work of Tyler and
Daniel).  To be fully honest, even in the 8th year we were stuck, but
all along I was talking to other foundations, watching what was
happening, asking questions to other leaders, back and forth; then one
day in 2014 I noticed another foundation, OpenNTF, mention of their own
success by changing to a "Social Welfare Organization" for the IRS tax
people.  I mentioned this to the OSGeo Board, and our lawyer changed our
application to that type, and our tax exempt application was quickly
approved.  (!!?!!)

Now you might say 'yes but OSGeo is registered in the United States,
what similarities are there for here' but I really feel that getting to
know why OSGeo (and other foundations) choose to register in one
location over another, can really help QGIS.ORG down this path.  For
example, why do most fortune500 companies register in the U.S. state of
Delaware (as OSGeo did):
https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2016/11/01_leitner.html

That article lists many reasons, that you could use as check points in
your search for QGIS.ORG and the right location.

(to be fully honest and open here, as a Canadian I too often wondered
why OSGeo chose, of all places, to register in Delaware, but after a
long time I can understand the reasons why, as I'm not a lawyer at all)

Hope some of that history helps.

-jeff



On 2018-01-29 3:51 PM, Andreas Neumann wrote:
Dear PSC members and community,

Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax
exemption from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I
attach the letter.

They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent,
by dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free
software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax
exemptions for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't
understand how Open Source works.

This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the
list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow
quite clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that
there is a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to
make GIS software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford
to use GIS software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax
exemption in Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in
Switzerland is only a formality - apparently not.

What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source
organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think,
something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we
move our organization to a country that better values all the
voluntary efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any
suggestions of other countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?

For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3
bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for
tax payments.

I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship
invoices - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship
amounts, or should we declare that the sponsorship already includes
VAT, meaning that from a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?

Any opinions and suggestions?

Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter -
and I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office.
Apparently, people and organizations are not "equal" in my country.
While very powerful organizations like the world soccer organization
(FIFA), the olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt -
organizations that have turnovers in the billions - small
organizations with lots of voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax
exempt. I am personally very disappointed.

Andreas


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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

Alessandro Pasotti-2
In reply to this post by Andreas Neumann-4
Hi Andreas,

sorry to hear the bad news, btw don't even try to blame yourself: you've done an amazing job to put all this paperwork together, thanks for all your endless efforts!

Unfortunately I cannot recommend Italy for hosting the foundation: we are (in)famous for our complicated bureaucracy.




On Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 8:51 PM, Andreas Neumann <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear PSC members and community,

Unfortunately I got a negative reply for my application of tax exemption from the Zurich tax office. For those who can read German I attach the letter.

They claim that our statutes imply that we follow an economic intent, by dealing with software development, bug fixing and marketing of free software. They also state, that in general they don't do tax exemptions for Open Source associations. Clearly, they don't understand how Open Source works.

This comes at a real surprise to me, because when I had a look at the list of tax-exempted organizations in Zurich, that seem to follow quite clearly an economic intent, whereas I have the impression that there is a lot of voluntary work going into QGIS with the intent to make GIS software available to the ones who otherwise could not afford to use GIS software. Because the german QGIS user group got tax exemption in Germany, I had the impression that a similar thing in Switzerland is only a formality - apparently not.

What are the next steps? First I will ask other Open Source organizations in Switzerland about this topic and if they think, something could be done about it. Otherwise, I will suggest, that we move our organization to a country that better values all the voluntary efforts that go in to Open and free software. Any suggestions of other countries who may host QGIS.ORG international?

For the budget, it will mean that I can't commit to additional QGIS 3 bug fixing currently - I will set aside a couple thousand Euros for tax payments.

I also don't know how to deal with VAT in upcoming sponsorship invoices - should I add the 7.7% VAT on top of the sponsorship amounts, or should we declare that the sponsorship already includes VAT, meaning that from a € 500.- sponsorship we can only keep € 461.5 ?

Any opinions and suggestions?

Anyway - I deeply apologize for my failing to deal with the matter - and I apologize for the misbehaviour of my country's tax office. Apparently, people and organizations are not "equal" in my country. While very powerful organizations like the world soccer organization (FIFA), the olympics and the world economic forum are tax exempt - organizations that have turnovers in the billions - small organizations with lots of voluntary people like QGIS cannot be tax exempt. I am personally very disappointed.

Andreas



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--
Alessandro Pasotti
w3:   www.itopen.it

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Re: Bad news: negative reply from Zurich tax office

pcav
Il 30/01/2018 13:22, Alessandro Pasotti ha scritto:

> Unfortunately I cannot recommend Italy for hosting the foundation: we
> are (in)famous for our complicated bureaucracy.

that was also my feeling. I'm deeply surprised realizing now that this
is not the case: CH bureaucracy proved much more cumbersome than IT one,
unbelievably so. Kudos to Andreas for the huge effort he put into it.
I think we should not discard a priori the idea of moving in a more
favourable country to lower this burden.
All the best.
--
Paolo Cavallini - www.faunalia.eu
QGIS & PostGIS courses: http://www.faunalia.eu/training.html
https://www.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=IT&q=qgis,arcgis
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