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Swiss Family Firms Under Threat From IHT Initiative

by Ulrika Lomas, Lowtax.net, Brussels
25 March, 2014

Swiss business federation Economiesuisse has warned that the adoption of a levy of 20 percent on inheritances over CHF2m (USD2.3m) could lead to the closure of many family businesses.

The plans were submitted by the Socialist Party on February 15, as part of proposals to ensure long-term financing for the nation's social security and pension fund (AHV).

Ahead of a parliamentary debate, Economiesuisse argued that the proposal puts at risk thousands of family-owned enterprises, which are currently exempt from inheritance tax in almost all cantons in Switzerland. Family businesses with insufficient funds to cover the levy will either have to be liquidated or sold, affecting tens of thousands of jobs, the association warned.

Furthermore, Economiesuisse highlighted a number of practical problems, insisting that it will be difficult to assess the value of bequeathed corporate assets, potentially leading to bottlenecks in the system. Finally, the association said that the proposal will lead to a cantonal revenue shortfall, and will not place the AHV fund on a long-term sustainable footing, despite the Socialist Party's claims.

The Swiss Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxes of the Council of States (CEAT-S) is to launch a consultation with business associations and cantons shortly.

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