What is ‘Covid solidarity tax’ and should Switzerland impose it?

The idea of the so-called ‘Covid-19 solidarity tax’ continues to stir controversy in Switzerland. What is the idea behind it and what is it supposed to achieve?

What is 'Covid solidarity tax' and should Switzerland impose it?
Should profitable companies pay solidarity tax? Photo by AFP

The tax is the brainchild of Switzerland’s left-leaning political groups that want it to be imposed on companies which have profited from the coronavirus crisis.

Among them are pharmaceutical corporations as well as online retailers that made profits during the pandemic while other businesses faltered.

Green and Social Democratic parties say the virus has boosted these companies’ revenues, so it would be fair that they pay additional tax as a gesture of solidarity.

According to MP Sophie Michaud-Gigon from the Green Party, “there is certain logic in this tax, especially in the retail sector, where small businesses and markets have not been able to generate the usual income, and consumers have therefore turned to supermarkets and online sales”.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Reasons to be optimistic about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland 

However, business groups and most political parties are opposed to such a measure because they believe that companies which were able to make profit during the health crisis — and which continue to pay taxes on the income they earned — should not be punished.

National councillor Céline Amaudruz from the Swiss People’s Party said that “we can only encourage certain companies to help the less fortunate ones. But it is out of the question to create new taxes”.

While the proposal for solidarity taxes is brought up as the second wave of Covid-19 has shut down certain businesses — bars and restaurants among them — the idea is not new.

It was already raised during the first wave in the spring when Christian Levrat from the Social Democratic Party suggested that rich individuals should assume the costs of the crisis. 

While there are no official moves to implement this idea, a recent poll by RTS public broadcaster showed that most respondents believe solidarity tax is fair in current circumstances. 



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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?