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Swiss to supply bank information to US: report

Swiss authorities will meet some of Washington's demands to transmit information on accounts held by US citizens in the country, local media reported on Tuesday.

According to Swiss daily TagesAnzeiger, state secretary for international affairs Michael Ambuehl will transmit by Tuesday evening information on the number of accounts and the total sum held by US citizens in Switzerland.  

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority surveyed a number of Swiss banks and determined that between $20 billion to $30 billion dollars (€14.2-21.3
billion) was held by “tens of thousands” of US customers, the newspaper said.  

According to the weekly SonntagsZeitung, the United States has asked for detailed information on US nationals who have hidden their money in Switzerland, basing its report on a letter from the US deputy attorney general James Cole dated August 31, addressed to Swiss authorities.  

The letter mentioned Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, Credit Suisse, as well as about another 10 banks, notably Julius Baer, Wegelin, and the cantonal banks of Zurich and Basel, the Sunday paper alleged.  

US authorities want all the data concerning private customers and US foundations which have deposited at least $50,000 (around €35,000) in Switzerland between the period of 2002 and July 2010, it said.  

Swiss finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said on Monday on Swiss television that she disagreed with the ultimatum.  

“This is not how to deal with other states,” she said.  

“We have suggested to the Americans how to solve (…) the problem,” she said, explaining that a solution would have to be based on existing fiscal agreements between the US and Switzerland, or on recent agreements with Germany and the United Kingdom.  

This latest request is not the first by US officials. Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS was forced to disclose the names of 4,450 US clients for whom it had offered to conceal funds from the eyes of the US tax inspectors.  

Widmer-Schlumpf added the use of emergency laws, as was the case for the UBS affaire, was excluded.

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TAX

Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

Switzerland and Italy have pledged to conclude a long-awaited tax arrangement for cross-border workers by the end of the year.

Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’
Photo: ALESSANDRO CRINARI / POOL / AFP

At a meeting in Rome between Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the two leaders said progress was being made on a cross-border tax arrangement. 

The agreement, originally negotiated in 2015, has as yet not been signed by either state. 

READ: How Switzerland avoided a coronavirus 'catastrophe' by protecting cross-border workers 

A 1974 agreement between the two countries doesn’t define cross-border worker. 

Sommaruga praised Switzerland’s decision to reject an initiative which would have restricted migration from EU countries and perhaps had impacts on cross-border workers. 

“In last Sunday's referendum, the Swiss people once again said that they want the free movement of people. It is a good thing for our country but it is also a good thing for the whole of Europe,” she said. 

“With neighbouring countries, Switzerland has adopted a regional approach excluding border regions and also cross-border workers from the quarantine regime. 

“I hope we can continue like this.”

While Switzerland rejected the migration limitation initiative, Ticino was one of four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons to vote in favour. 

Conte told reporters he hoped a deal was concluded “as soon as possible” and hoped it would be concluded by 2021. 

Conte hailed Italian cross-border workers as essential to the health system in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. 

READ: How Switzerland's cross-border workers are growing in number 

In the canton of Ticino, one in five healthcare workers lives over the border in Italy – approximately 4,000 people. Ticino’s population swells from approximately 360,000 people to 440,000 during an average work day due to cross-border workers from Italy.

Unlike with Italy, Switzerland has struck a tax deal for cross-border workers from neighbouring France, which was amended during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

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