• Switzerland edition
 
Swiss to go after domestic tax cheats
Swiss Federal Chancellery (File)

Swiss to go after domestic tax cheats

Published: 24 Feb 2012 11:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Feb 2012 09:40 GMT+01:00

The Federal Council is seeking to put tax evasion on a par with tax fraud so that both offences become criminal in Switzerland.

The Finance Minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, wants to crack down on intentional tax evasion committed by Swiss citizens, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

Currently there exists in Swiss law a distinction between tax evasion, which is not a criminal offence, and tax fraud, which is.

Many acts that would incur criminal penalties for tax evasion elsewhere in the world are treated only as civil affairs in Switzerland. These include deliberately misreporting income on a tax return.

As a result, Switzerland has been traditionally considered lenient on tax cheats.

This may all now change. If it does, then Swiss law may be brought into line with international standards as to what constitutes a criminal offence in the event of non-payment of tax.

“In Switzerland, a tax offence is considered a trifle while it is a crime in the United States,” Jean-Christophe Schwaab of the Social Democratic Party told the newspaper. “Attitudes must change.”

Changes to the current law would enable Switzerland to focus its attention not only on foreigners hiding their money in Swiss banks, but also on the Swiss.

As is the case with foreign accounts, the proposed law would not allow investigators to go on fishing expeditions, but would require them to have clear evidence of a crime being committed.

Left-wing politicians are pleased by the idea of clamping down on those hiding taxes from the state. Didier Berberat of the Social Democratic party points out that it is really only those with independent money that are in a position to hide money from the taxman.

“Employees are much less able to deduct money,” he told the Tribune de Genève.

The implications for the international community could also be interesting should the scope of the law be extended in Switzerland.

Currently, Switzerland will only give mutual assistance to foreign countries that can show that a crime has been committed according to Swiss standards .

This means that in many instances where countries have provided evidence that their nationals are guilty of tax evasion, Switzerland has refused to assist because it does not consider the activity sufficiently serious.

Should tax evasion become criminal in Switzerland, the number of cases in which Switzerland would agree to provide assistance may also rise.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss hailed for saving Jews from Holocaust
Ruth Goduner, daughter of Paul Gruninger, admires plaque celebrating her father's deeds with police officials. Photo: Saint Gallen cantonal police

Swiss hailed for saving Jews from Holocaust

A Swiss policemen who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust and ended up being punished for forging their entry documents was honoured by his former force on Friday. READ  

Man shot dead in Saint Gallen city mosque
Photo> Saint Gallen cantonal police

Man shot dead in Saint Gallen city mosque

One person was killed on Friday in a shooting in the prayer hall of a Swiss mosque, police said. READ  

‘Mugged’ youth admits he stabbed himself
Photo: R. Nial Bradshaw

‘Mugged’ youth admits he stabbed himself

A man who claimed to have been attacked and stabbed by muggers in Balsthal, in the canton of Solothurn, has confessed to police that he made the incident up and actually stabbed himself. READ  

Rhaetian Railway derailment
Graubünden derailment claims first fatality
Five people were seriously injured in the incident. Photo: Graubünden cantonal police

Graubünden derailment claims first fatality

An 85-year-old man injured in the Rhaetian Railway train derailment in the canton of Graubünden on August 13th has died in hospital. READ  

Jura to vote on extending expat political rights
Photo: FutUndBeidel

Jura to vote on extending expat political rights

Foreigners may be allowed to become local councillors in the canton of Jura if the population votes in favour of an extension of political rights for expat residents in a referendum on September 28th. READ  

Swiss workers face increased physical risks
Physical and mental risks at work can lead to ill health. Photo: Christopher Meredith

Swiss workers face increased physical risks

More than half of employed people in Switzerland are exposed to physical risks in the workplace, ten percent more than five years previously, according to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office this week. READ  

Violent fare-dodger jailed by Zurich court
The Austrian was caught without a ticket on a Zurich bus. Photo: Tim Adams

Violent fare-dodger jailed by Zurich court

An Austrian man who tried to evade police after being caught fare-dodging in Zurich last year was jailed this week for pulling a gun on his pursuers and firing several shots. READ  

Lost passenger sparks Geneva airport scare
Photo: Geneva airport/File

Lost passenger sparks Geneva airport scare

A lost passenger sparked a security alert at Geneva airport on Thursday that forced staff to halt boarding and caused disruption to several flights, a spokesman said. READ  

Julius Bär sued over 'lost' East German cash
Photo: Sporst

Julius Bär sued over 'lost' East German cash

Berlin is suing one of Switzerland's largest banks in its bid to recuperate hundreds of million euros that went missing during the reunification of East and West Germany, the bank said on Thursday. READ  

Swiss travel firm Kuoni suffers weak results
Photo: Eddie

Swiss travel firm Kuoni suffers weak results

Shares in Switzerland-based global travel group Kuoni plunged on Thursday after the company posted weak results for the first half of 2014, blaming unrest in many parts of the world. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
National
Villagers in Graubünden valley reject hydro plant to protect vultures
Business & Money
Court rules against appellation for absinthe from Neuchâtel valley
National
Two hundred passengers rescued after landslide derails Swiss train
Travel
Switzerland remains world champion for per capita train travel
Culture
Social media backlash forces Polanski to bow out of Locarno film festival
National
Two policemen identified among three Israelis killed in train crash
Features
Untouched Alps: The Local explores Switzerland's only national park
National
Swiss government secretary tweets nude ‘selfies’ taken at work
International
Swiss couples fined in Ibiza for making love in van without seatbelts
National
Schumacher medical record theft suspect hangs himself in Zurich cell
National
Thousands of motorists drive without permits in Switzerland: report
National
Switzerland celebrates the centennial of national park in Graubünden
National
Animal rights group protests over dead fish throwing at festival
National
Federer forced to tear down kids' play area at Graubünden holiday home
National
Zurich taxis charge world’s most expensive fares: new survey
National
Swiss bus driver charged with careless driving in fatal Norway crash
National
European Union rejects Swiss bid to rejig freedom of movement deal
Tech
Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking systems: IT experts
Sport
Video of Bern football player's spectacular own goal goes global
Tech
Switzerland stays on top of innovation rankings for fourth year
National
Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn play tennis at Jungfraujoch (VIDEOS)
Business & Money
Competition commission launches probe into Swiss car leasing 'fiddle'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,087
jobs available