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Clarification of the framework governing the issuance of internal tax annual certificates for associated members of personnel


Questions have recently been raised with respect to the framework applicable to the issuance of internal tax annual certificates to associated members of the personnel (MPAs).

Today, the term “subsistence allowance” is used for both allowances that CERN pays to MPAs* and allowances that it processes in favour of MPAs upon the instruction, and on behalf of, third-parties, i.e. institutions involved in the experimental collaborations or the collaborations themselves. In the interest of transparency, the Management has proposed to introduce the term “cost-of-living allowance (COLA)” for the latter case in the Staff Rules and Regulations.  The purpose of both allowances is to defray the costs incurred by MPAs in the local region during their time at CERN.

Regardless of the name, allowances processed on behalf of a third party are not paid by the Organization, which therefore cannot issue internal tax certificates for those payments. This resulted from the recommendations by CERN’s Internal Audit Service and from numerous exchanges with the fiscal authorities in our two Host States, France and Switzerland. For this reason CERN has announced already in 2017 that it will no longer issue internal tax annual certificates for allowances processed on behalf of a third party. Although this measure should have been implemented with immediate effect in order to fix an historical anomaly, a one-year grace period was negotiated with the Host States and a second year was granted because the accompanying support measures for completion of the tax declarations could not be put in place due to difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 2020 onwards, recipients of third-party allowances shall receive an “Individual Annual Statement” which can be used in preparation of their tax declarations. With respect to France, any actual costs incurred during the recipients’ stay in the local region may be deductible for income tax purposes. Practical modalities will be specified in the Admin e-guide in due course.

The proposed new framework introducing the new term COLA was approved by the Council at its December 2020 Session and will come into effect on 1 January 2021.

*This covers all students, project associates and payments initiated by CERN.