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Swiss ‘partially’ agree to US bank info request

Switzerland's government has "partially" agreed to a Washington ultimatum that information on US nationals who have money in the country be handed over, local media reported on Saturday.

According to the Swiss daily TagesAnzeiger, Swiss authorities, in a confidential letter to 10 local banks said the US request could “be partially agreed upon”, but that the data transfer would have to be done by the banks themselves, and not the government.  

Furthermore, the letter said the banks would need to provide data on banking activities only going back to September 30th 2009. Prior to that date, information should only be provided “if there is a violation of US legislation or obvious tax fraud”, the newspaper said.  

On Wednesday, Switzerland’s President Micheline Calmy-Rey told reporters that Swiss authorities had not provided the names of any clients of Swiss banks to US tax authorities.  

“For Switzerland, any exchange of information on client data is only possible if it is based on existing legislation,” she said, referring to the double taxation treaty reached in 2009 with the United States.  

Last week, local weekly SonntagsZeitung reported that Washington had asked for detailed information on US nationals who might have improperly hidden money in Switzerland, basing its report on a purported letter from the US deputy attorney general James Cole dated August 31st, addressed to Swiss authorities.  

US authorities want all data concerning private customers and US foundations which have deposited at least $50,000 (€35,300) in Switzerland between 2002 and July 2010, it said.

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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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