Rules change for foreign tax help
BERN, SWITZERLAND – Bern is busy this week with political agendas, Parliament’s and the Federal Council’s. A key legislative change for the country will be the new law covering how Switzerland works with requests for help from other countries in cases of suspected tax fraud and corruption.
The Federal Council today opened for public consultation the
“revision of the Tax Administrative Assistance Act, which provides for an easing of Swiss practices with regard to stolen data. It should now be possible to respond to requests if a foreign country has obtained the stolen data via normal administrative assistance channels or from public sources. However, administrative assistance is still not possible if a country has actively acquired the stolen data outside of administrative assistance proceedings. The proposed legislative amendment will clarify the legal situation while also taking account of international developments.”
France and Germany actively acquired stolen data in the past seven years that led to a number of charges against individuals for keeping undeclared assets in Swiss banks. The proposed change will give Switzerland more flexibility to respond to requests for help, but in past cases like that of Hervé Falciano and France, where the data was stolen and France used it as the legal basis for charging HSBC clients, the new law will not have an impact.
The press release from Bern in full:
“The Federal Council had previously proposed easing administrative assistance practices in the case of stolen data in 2013 with the first revision of the Tax Administrative Assistance Act. However, the majority of the cantons, parties and business associations rejected the proposal in the consultation on that occasion. Since then, international practice has established that exceptions to the exchange of information will be tolerated only on a very restricted basis. For instance, the exchange of information could be refused if it is incompatible with public policy, such as in the case of requests motivated by racist, political or religious persecution.
Swiss practices were therefore increasingly called into question by numerous countries and the Global Forum. The Federal Council is thus clarifying the legal situation and taking account of international requirements with the proposed legislative amendment. In addition, Switzerland will find itself in a better position for phase 2 of the Global Forum peer review on administrative assistance in tax matters.
Therefore, although Switzerland will continue to reject administrative assistance requests based on stolen data actively acquired by the requesting state outside of administrative assistance proceedings, it intends to respond to requests in the future that are based on data that has been obtained by the requesting state through normal administrative assistance channels or from public sources and that has not been actively acquired in any other way. Nevertheless, the foreign taxpayers concerned will retain their legal right to lodge an appeal against the exchange of bank client data within the framework of administrative assistance.
The consultation will last until 2 December 2015. The bill is due to be discussed in Parliament in summer 2016.”
Switzerland, China pursue financial talks: RMB
Efforts to “further facilitate the internationalization of the renminbi (RMB) through Switzerland” are on the agenda this week during a three-day series of meetings between financial ministers in China. The two governments have agreed that this includes “enabling the direct trading of currencies and further use of Chinese investment quota programmes.”
Also covered by the talks, being held at different government levels:
“international developments in financial markets and international monetary matters, the further expansion of bilateral cooperation in financial matters and mutual market access, the role of Switzerland as an offshore renminbi market and cooperation in multilateral bodies such as the IMF, the Financial Stability Board, the G20 and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.”
Key parliamentary group backs same-sex marriage
The judicial committee of the upper house of parliament voted 7-5 with one abstention this week to support a Green-Left proposal, “civil marriage for all”. The parliamentary initiative already has the backing of the lower house judicial committee. The new vote moves same-sex marriage closer to becoming law