Expat tax obligations and being taxed at source Tuesday, 5 March, 2013 Those of you who are taxed at source in Switzerland—where your employer automatically deducts the amount you have to pay—might believe you’re off the hook when it comes to filling in complicated tax forms. However, that’s not necessarily the case as there are still issues over other types of income. WRS’s Jo Fahy talks to expat tax advisor in Nyon, Jamal Reddani:
Germany targets lump sum tax expats Thursday, 10 January, 2013 Tax seems to be the issue that never goes away for Switzerland. Although deals on taxing foreign client assets are now in effect for Austria and the UK, two major deals remain unsigned—with the U.S. and Germany. A German politician this week reportedly wanted harsher treatment of German citizens living in Switzerland who only pay a lump-sum tax. This echoed moves by the French government hoping to earn more tax revenue from citizens abroad. WRS’s Tony Ganzer asked University of Lausanne political scientist Georg Lutz why these countries are turning the screws on the Swiss?
Could tax pressure backfire on the French? Tuesday, 8 January, 2013 It’s been a tough start to the year for wealthy French citizens living in Switzerland and for their tax “arrangements.” Since January 1, France has begun demanding taxes from those who settled in Switzerland to enjoy the lump sum tax regime for foreigners here. By discreetly withdrawing a directive that exempted them from double taxation, the French government caught Switzerland off guard. The federal department of finance says it was told by “third parties” and not officially informed. Some Swiss politicians say it’s a “declaration of war” against the lump sum tax regime. WRS’s Dave Goodman talks to Geneva-based tax lawyer Philippe Kenel:
Zug, Geneva, Basel at risk in corporate tax spats Tuesday, 27 November, 2012 Pressure from the European Union over corporate tax rates could cost the canton of Vaud as much as 1.4 billion francs and 9,000 jobs. That’s according to the latest research from the CREA institute of macroeconomics at Lausanne University. The figures come as the debate rages over whether Swiss cantons should be allowed to continue charging companies lower tax rates for profits made outside Switzerland. WRS’s Catherine Allen spoke to Thomas Cottier, professor of international law at Bern University. She began by asking him about the risk of companies leaving, if the low tax rates are abolished:
Why UBS is not being fined in Switzerland Monday, 26 November, 2012 While British financial regulators have fined Swiss banking giant UBS 30 million pounds over major failings that allowed a rogue trader to lose 2.3 billion dollars, there has been no such fine from Swiss financial regulator FINMA. Instead, UBS will likely face more supervision, scrutiny from an independent auditor or stricter capital rules related to risks it may take. WRS’s Tony Ganzer asks University of Zurich legal researcher Franca Contratto whether FINMA’s actions are too soft:
German, Swiss tax deal on the fritz Friday, 23 November, 2012 Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, voted against implementing a tax deal that was supposed to end years of dispute over German accounts in Swiss banks. The deal would have allowed Swiss banks to transfer withholding taxes to Germany on behalf of their clients without revealing their identities. Hopes now rest on a meeting of the conciliation committee on December 12. WRS’s Alex Helmick finds out what happens next from reporter Terry Martin in Berlin:
Bern divided over 'self-declaration' tax strategy Tuesday, 6 November, 2012 Should new bank clients be required to sign a declaration swearing that they have paid all their taxes at home? This idea, known in Bern as so-called “self-declaration,” has been hotly debated recently. It is reportedly part of the “clean money strategy” finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf presented last week. But the government is by all accounts still divided on the issue. Host Dave Goodman asks WRS’s Jordan Davis why self-declaration inspires such ambivalence in Bern:
Hundreds of Americans give up passports Thursday, 25 October, 2012 The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland says hundreds of Swiss dual citizens have given up their American passports in what he calls a “big phenomenon” now in the country. Donald Beyer told the business paper the Handelszeitung that stricter enforcement of U.S. laws make having a U.S. passport less attractive. He said the relationship with Switzerland only has one problem: American justice officials trying to pursue tax evaders without infringing on Swiss laws. The paper asked Beyer why the American relationship was so much better with Liechtenstein, to which he replied that the principality made a decision to break from black or gray lists, and adopted a “clean money strategy” very early.
Is writing on the wall for an end to tax breaks for the rich? Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 Basel Country voted “yes” to abolishing tax breaks for wealthy foreign residents at the weekend but in the canton of Bern the same proposal got a “no.” Voters did however agree to a counter project that’ll make qualifying for these breaks more difficult. It’ll also raise the amount to be paid. So what does all this mean for the future of lump sum taxation in Switzerland? WRS’s Lucas Chambers went to find out:
Vote leaves tax regime for the rich in Bern mostly intact Monday, 24 September, 2012 Famous Gstaad residents, including Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and French rock star Johnny Hallyday may have opened a bottle or two of champers last night. Why? Well Bernese voters have rejected an initiative to abolish the tax regime that’s attracted the wealthy to settle down there. But they did restrict the qualifying conditions to pay what’s called “lump sum tax.” They allow wealthy foreigners who live there to be taxed on their spending, rather than on their wealth and income. Bern Social Democrat Margret Kiener Nellen fought to abolish the lump sum taxes and talks WRS’s Dave Goodman:
What 'grouped requests' mean for banking secrecy Friday, 14 September, 2012 It’s been a week of bad news for defenders of Swiss banking secrecy. On Tuesday, UBS Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld received a $100 million reward for telling authorities about the bank’s efforts to help U.S. clients hide their money. And on Wednesday, MPs gave up the fight to stop what are known as so-called “group requests”—that means it’ll be even easier for foreign tax authorities to get information on suspected tax evaders. WRS’s Jordan Davis has been watching the Federal Palace this week and WRS’s Dave Goodman asked him to explain what was new about grouped requests:
'Reward may spur more whistleblowers' Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 Bradley Birkenfeld, a former employee at Swiss bank UBS, has accepted a record-breaking reward of $104 million. The Whistleblower Office at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said he had provided comprehensive information that was “exceptional in both its breadth and depth” about secret accounts. World Radio Switzerland has learned from a source with knowledge of the case that Birkenfeld also intends to pursue further reward claims in court. WRS’s Alex Helmick asks Jean-Christophe Schwaab, president of the French-speaking section of the Swiss Association of Bank Employees and an MP in the canton of Vaud, whether this will spur more whistleblowers in the Swiss banking sector:
UBS whistleblower Birkenfeld gets record-breaking reward Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 Bradley Birkenfeld, a former employee at Swiss bank UBS, has accepted a record-breaking reward of $104 million. The Whistleblower Office at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said he had provided comprehensive information that was “exceptional in both its breadth and depth” about secret accounts. World Radio Switzerland has learned from a source with knowledge of the case that Birkenfeld also intends to pursue further reward claims in court. From Washington Daniel Ryntjes reports:
Should Swiss just accept banking secrecy? Monday, 10 September, 2012 Is it time for Switzerland to give up its contentious banking secrecy? For the Swiss government, for the time being surrendering it is out of the question. But many think it is only a matter of time before it disappears. Talking on French-speaking TV a few days ago, Philipp Hildebrand, former chief of the Swiss National Bank, said he sees it happening within five to 10 years—and he is not alone. Liechtenstein’s prime minister also declared last week that striking tax deals with European countries to preserve banking secrecy may just not be worth the effort. So are the defenders of Swiss banking secrecy starting to feel cornered? WRS’s Pete Forster talk to Christian Lüscher, vice-president of the Swiss Liberal party and a firm supporter of banking secrecy: