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Switzerland Preparing To Automatically Exchange Tax Info

by Ulrika Lomas, Lowtax.net, Brussels
27 May, 2014

The Swiss Federal Council has adopted draft negotiation mandates for introducing the new global standard for the automatic exchange of information (AEI) in tax matters with partner states.

Switzerland endorsed the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters on May 6, committing to implement a new single global standard on AEI. The Swiss Federal Council has newly insisted, however, that there must be only one global standard, that exchanged information should be used solely for the agreed purpose (principle of speciality), information exchange should be reciprocal, data protection must be ensured, and the beneficial owners of trusts and other financial constructs should also be identified.

Furthermore, the Federal Council stressed that, where appropriate, the issues of regularization of the past and market access are to be incorporated into negotiations on the automatic exchange of information. It also said that, in general terms, the introduction of the automatic exchange of information should create a level playing field, and Switzerland's reputation and that of its financial center in the area of taxation should be improved.

In the draft mandates, the Federal Council specifically recommends taking the following steps in the further course of action:

  • The introduction of the exchange of information is to be negotiated with the EU such that the ongoing negotiations on extending the EU savings tax agreement will be reorientated;
  • Regarding implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a switch from Model Two to Model One should be negotiated with the United States, so that data would be exchanged automatically between the competent authorities on a reciprocal basis;
  • Negotiations on the automatic exchange of information with other selected countries is to be examined. During an initial phase, priority would be given to the introduction of the automatic exchange of information with countries with which there are close economic and political ties, and which, if appropriate, provide their taxpayers with sufficient scope for regularization, and which are considered to be important and promising in terms of their market potential for Switzerland's finance industry;
  • The introduction of the automatic exchange of information with foreign countries would be conducted by means of separate bilateral agreements with the partner countries. Moreover, implementing legislation would be required in national law. Existing legislation excludes the automatic exchange of information.

The relevant parliamentary committees and cantons will be consulted on the draft mandates in the next few months and they should definitively be adopted by the Federal Council in the autumn.

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