Published: 22 Oct 2012 11:37 GMT+02:00 | Print version
Updated: 22 Oct 2012 11:37 GMT+02:00
Michael Schumacher, the champion Formula One driver, says he is prepared to leave Switzerland if tax breaks given to foreigners in the country are abolished.
On Friday, a left-wing alliance filed 106,000 signatures backing a popular initiative to halt “tax privileges for millionaires”.
The proposal, if accepted by voters, would eliminate the financial breaks received by foreigners such as Schumacher, a German citizen, who do not have to pay taxes on income they earn outside of the country.
The motor racing star, a resident of Gland in the canton of Vaud, told Der Sonntag newspaper that he hoped such a measure would not be approved in Switzerland.
The seven-time world champion, who earlier this month announced he would retire at the end of this season, told the newspaper that he regarded himself as a “jet-setter” who did business all around the world but not in Switzerland.
It was earlier reported, however, that he signed a sponsorship deal with Swiss fashion groups Navyboot and Jet Set worth more than $5 million a year.
Schumacher said he could imagine that many wealthy foreigners like himself would leave the country if the tax deal was ended.
“They will probably move, one after another, to no longer stay in Switzerland,” he said.
Schumacher said he does pay “lump sum” taxes, plus the wages of his Swiss employees.
If foreigners leave the country, ordinary taxpayers will have to make up the difference in revenues, he indicated.
A 20-year resident of Switzerland, Schumacher was listed earlier this year as the second wealthiest sportsman in the world by The Sunday Times, which estimated his net worth at £510 million ($824 million).
His official residence, built in 2008 and valued at 35 million francs, is on a sprawling waterfront estate overlooking Lake Geneva.
He is among 5,500 wealthy foreigners in Switzerland, including other F1 stars such as Lewis Hamilton (a Geneva resident), who benefit from low taxes because their income is earned abroad.
Several cantons, including Zurich and Basel, have already decided to end such breaks.
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