Tuesday, March 2, 2010
It has recently emerged that Switzerland is to evaluate a series of tax initiatives, designed to tackle the existence of foreign undeclared assets in Swiss bank accounts, but without compromising the country's cherished banking secrecy laws.
Determined to safeguard the future of its financial centre, the government is preparing to negotiate solutions with individual countries, in order to discourage undeclared funds from being deposited in its banks.
Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz told a recent press conference that the Swiss government no longer wants "untaxed money from abroad" in the local financial system, but he conceded that "it won't be easy to tackle the issue."
The Swiss Federal Council has already put forward the idea of introducing a withholding tax provision in future bilateral agreements, together with, or as an alternative to, the requirement that clients complete a self-declaration form confirming that they have already fulfilled their tax obligations at home. Merz confirmed, however, that the government has categorically ruled out an automatic exchange of tax information, determined to protect individual privacy and the future of the Swiss financial centre.
Switzerland is eager to negotiate an amicable solution to the tax information question to avoid being overtaken by future events.
According to Merz, the government's preferred strategy remains the negotiation of separate agreements with each country.