101.7 FM IN GENEVA DAB+, CABLE & SATELLITE ACROSS SWITZERLAND
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Focussing merely on the tax incentives given by each canton is misleading. Often indirect taxes on goods services and payroll taxes can provide a more meaningful fiscal contribution to a canton than corporation tax. If transparency is wanted, then awareness is also required of the clawbacks or restrictions that are imposed on incentives granted to any company coming to Switzerland. In the event of non compliance with the terms of the incentive and or the departure or restructuring of the company these clawbacks are invoked thus recovering the tax that has been saved as a result of the incentive. Moreover, Switzerland is not a cheap place to relocate a business too, so its naive to think that the financially they would do so unless there was significant commercial operational and fiscal benefits for these companies, especially when their businesses are not growing or the economic outlook is uncertain.
Where the focus of discussion ought be directed is whether Switzerland is doing its best to ensure foreign multinationals are compliant with Swiss and foreign tax laws, be it indirect taxes, withholding taxes or transfer pricing. It is not uncommon for financial professionals to discover that large trading companies may have inadequate systems and controls to report their tax burdens correctly and in the worst case this can result in the under reporting and payment of taxation. Politically Switzerland doesnt want to be seen as heavy handed when it comes to tax audits, but on the other hand Switzerland must not be seen as a light touch and should aggressivly pursue those companies where there is any whiff of an abuse of law. Ultimately this is a question of resource. Does Switzerland have sufficiently qualified and experieced tax inspectors that can handle the increasingly complex cross border transactions that large groups undertake. The objective being to ensure that not only Switzerlands position is proteceted but also that Switzerland is comfortable in defending its position against foreign tax authorities if challenged.