• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Bern ready to sign global tax-exchange deal

AFP · 9 Oct 2013, 15:48

Published: 09 Oct 2013 15:48 GMT+02:00

The agreement on information, brokered by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Council of Europe, concerns non-residents with assets in the country.

In a statement, the government said it was committed to complying with international standards on tax issues.
   
"The signing of the OECD/Council of Europe convention underscores Switzerland's willingness to conform to these standards," the government said.
   
"It also confirms Switzerland's commitment to the global fight against tax fraud and tax evasion with a view to safeguarding the integrity and reputation of the country's financial centre."
   
A cabinet meeting mandated Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf to prepare a draft law that would enable the country to sign the accord, which has already been signed by 50 nations and is in force in 30 of them.
   
The accord, drawn up by the OECD and the Strasbourg-headquartered Council of Europe -- which is separate from the European Union -- sets down ways for governments to cooperate in order to fix and levy taxes on non-residents.
   
The automatic exchange of information about non-residents, a particularly controversial area given Switzerland's trademark banking secrecy, is one of the options available in the accord.

But additional deals between individual signatory countries are required for such a measure to be applied.
   
With the financial crisis raising the stakes in the debate over offshore tax havens, Switzerland has opted to give ground in some areas in order to defend the overall principle of banking secrecy.
   
For example, Switzerland taxes the accounts of non-resident European Union citizens who have money in the country, and then transfers the cash to the individual's homeland without revealing their names.
   
In a related decision on Wednesday, the Swiss government also drew up a mandate for talks with the EU, which wants to update the current rules.
   
Switzerland taxes the savings of such depositors at a rate of 35 percent — raised from the original 20 percent in 2011 — and pays the funds anonymously back to member states.
   
Only interest in the narrowest sense is taxed, but Brussels wants to widen the net to cover dividends from shares and life insurance policies, as well as capital gains from the sale of shares and real estate.
   
Switzerland, which is not a member of the 28-nation EU, is surrounded by the bloc's members and has tight economic ties with them.
   
Switzerland has insisted that all the globe's offshore havens — for example, Britain's various Caribbean territories -- must also fall into line to ensure a level playing field.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Marcel Chassot/Bernaqua

Clients at a Bern waterpark were horrified to spot a drone hovering over a nudist area.

Kidnapping of Swiss boy raises online gaming fears
File photo: Rachel Johnson

A 12-year-old Swiss boy was allegedly abused by a German man he first met online.

Study: Swiss among world’s most socially progressive
Photo: Janek Skarzynkski/AFP

Switzerland is one of the world’s most socially progressive countries, according to a new report.

Escaped Swiss cow loses holiday rights
Ilana the cow spent ten days on the loose before being recaptured. Photo: Graubünden police

There will be no summer holiday for Ilana the Highland cow.

Swiss giant Nestlé bucks history with new top dog
Schneider, 50, is a German-US national. Photo: Daniel Roland/AFP

The appointment of new CEO Ulf Mark Schneider marks a new, nutrition-focused era for Nestlé.

Signs lay down law and order for Basel prostitutes
Photo: Justice and Security Department, Basel

New signs in Basel’s red light district will show streetwalkers where they may legally tout for business.

Muslim school kids must swim to be Swiss
Swimming lessons are compulsory in Basel's education system. Photo: Daniel Orth

Two Muslim teenage girls were denied a Swiss passport because they refused to participate in school swimming lessons on religious grounds.

Opinion
Brexit voters ‘misinformed’ on Swiss relations with EU
The Swiss president meets with European leaders on the first Gotthard train. Photo: Ruben Sprich/AFP

Leave campaigners calling for Britain to be like Switzerland did not truly understand Switzerland’s relationship with the EU, one commentator tells The Local.

France demands Swiss bank UBS face fraud trial
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The bank is accused of orchestrating a vast system of tax fraud in France.

Wimbledon
Federer wins uninspired Wimbledon opener
File photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Roger Federer was well short of his best as he advanced to the second round.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
File photo: Kochtopf
National
Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches
File photo: Jen/Flickr
Society
Geneva to get 'café fellatio' by end of year
Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
A guaranteed basic income: why did the Swiss say no?
Photo: Andreas Gerth/Swiss-Image.ch
Features
Switzerland’s breathtaking Unesco World Heritage sites
Photo: Nestle
Culture
Nestlé celebrates 150 years with museum openings
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
National
Report: Swiss are officially ‘good’ for the planet
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
World agog at bizarre Gotthard Base Tunnel opening
Photo: Coop
Swiss supermarkets look to scrap free plastic bags
Photo: IMD
Business & Money
Report: Swiss economy more competitive than US
Photo: Aargau police
National
Murderer escapes from Swiss psych hospital
Photo: Grande-Dixence SA/essencedesign.com
Features
8 fantastic reasons to visit French-speaking Switzerland
Photo: Terroir Fribourg
Lifestyle
Swiss village to make world’s biggest meringue
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Features
10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard
National
Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Sport
Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
Photo: Broad Bean Media
National
Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
4,684
jobs available