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2020 Will Mark the End of an Era: Swiss Corporate Tax Reform Accepted

2020 Will Mark the End of an Era: Swiss Corporate Tax Reform Accepted

On May 19, 2019, Swiss Federal and Genevan cantonal voters accepted proposed corporate tax reforms by a large majority.  As explained by Thierry Boitelle and Aliasghar Kanani of Bonnard Lawson Geneva, Switzerland will abolish its widely criticized cantonal special tax regimes and certain Federal regimes.  At the same time, Switzerland and the cantons will introduce generally applicable reduced and attractive corporate income tax rates and several new special regimes, meeting current international standards and requirements.  These changes will be effective as of 2020.

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Revised Swiss Corporate Tax Reform Will Keep Switzerland a Top Corporate Location

Revised Swiss Corporate Tax Reform Will Keep Switzerland a Top Corporate Location

Beginning in 2015, Switzerland has struggled over the adoption of a tax system that is consistent with B.E.P.S. Many different stakeholders are involved, ranging from the Swiss Federal government to the cantons, various political parties, and the E.U. At last, a version of tax reform has been adopted by the Swiss Federal National Assembly. Known as the Federal Act on Tax Reform and A.H.V. Financing ("T.R.A.F."), it contains provisions designed to please all participants while maintaining Switzerland's global reputation as an attractive jurisdiction for multinational enterprises. Danielle Wenger and Manuel Vogler of Prager Dreifuss AG, Zurich, guide the reader through the various iterations of the reform and the provisions of the T.R.A.F.

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Reform of the U.S. Tax Regime – The Swiss Perspective

Published by Prager Dreifuss, Tax Newsletter (February 2018).

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Swiss Federal Council Opens Consultation Process on Tax Proposal 17

Swiss Federal Council Opens Consultation Process on Tax Proposal 17

When Swiss voters rejected the Corporate Tax Reform Act III (“C.T.R. III”) in a referendum on February 12, 2017, Swiss tax reform was not derailed, only delayed.  Events that took place in September have moved the process forward. Existing cantonal tax privileges will be abolished, as agreed with the E.U., and replaced by mandatory introduction of a patent box regime in all cantons, voluntary introduction of additional deductions for research and development (“R&D”) expense, and a step-up in basis of hidden reserves created under the old tax regimes or before immigration to Switzerland.  Reto Heuberger, Stefan Oesterhelt, and Martin Schenk of Homburger AG, Zurich, explain the most important aspects of these and other aspects of T.P. 17.

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Spontaneous Exchange of Tax Rulings – The Swiss Angle

Spontaneous Exchange of Tax Rulings – The Swiss Angle

Most – but not all – global tax advisers know that the tax planning universe has changed.  The few holdouts hoping that the old ways may yet be available were disappointed, again, when Switzerland announced procedures for the spontaneous exchange of tax rulings.  Rulings issued on and after January 1, 2010, will be exchanged beginning January 1, 2018.  Michael Fischer and Marc Buchmann of Attorneys Fischer Ramp Partner AG, Zurich, explain the new procedures and how taxpayers may take steps to stop the spontaneous exchange of existing rulings.

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New Proposal for Swiss Corporate Tax Reform

New Proposal for Swiss Corporate Tax Reform

Through the first ten days of February, Swiss tax advisers were contemplating life after the adoption of the Corporate Tax Reform III (“C.T.R. III”).  Then, the bottom dropped out from under their feet as Swiss voters defeated the tax reform package by an almost 60-40 majority.  Now, a Steering Committee representing the cantons and Swiss Federation has issued T.P. 17, recommending a modified version of corporate tax reform.  Peter von Burg and Dr. Natalie Peter of Staiger Attorneys, Zurich, compare the provisions in T.P. 17 with those in C.T.R. III.

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Swiss Corporate Tax Reform Postponed

Swiss Corporate Tax Reform Postponed

Through the first ten days of February, Swiss tax advisers were contemplating life after the adoption of the Corporate Tax Reform III (“C.T.R. III”). Then, the bottom dropped out from under their feet as Swiss voters defeated the tax reform package by an almost 60-40 majority.  Peter von Burg and Dr. Natalie Peter of Staiger Attorneys at Law in Zurich explain the benefits that were contemplated under C.T.R. III and ponder about what will be adopted in its place.  Switzerland must act promptly to cobble together a replacement package that will appease opponents of C.T.R. III and meet the deadline under its agreement with the E.U. for eliminating existing special benefits allowed to base companies. How much of C.T.R. III can be salvaged?

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Insights Vol. 3 No. 10: Updates & Other Tidbits

Insights Vol. 3 No. 10: Updates & Other Tidbits

This month Sultan Arab, Nina Krauthamer, and Galia Antebi look briefly at several timely issues, including (i) a Swiss court order granting UBS the right to appeal an administrative order to disclose French client information to French tax authorities, (ii) the expansion of I.R.S. offshore tax avoidance investigations to banks in countries other than Switzerland, and (iii) a continuing controversy over the Common Consolidated Tax Base, known as the C.C.T.B., proposed by the E.U. Commission.

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The Forfait Tax Regime in Switzerland – A Venerable Alternative

The Swiss forfait tax regime is discussed by Michael Fischer of Froriep in Zurich. The forfait is battle-tested and has beaten back a referendum in 2014 that would have repealed the benefit. Beware – the forfait is not available in all cantons and the minimum tax rate varies widely. In comparison to the U.K. and Ireland, remittances from abroad are not penalized with tax.

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More Swiss Banks Reach Resolution Under D.O.J.'s Swiss Bank Program

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The U.S. Department of Justice’s (“D.O.J.”) “Swiss Bank Program” (officially called the “Program For Non-Prosecution Agreements”), was announced in August 2013 and provided a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the U.S.

Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the D.O.J. by December 31, 2013 that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts. Banks that were already under criminal investigation related to their banking activities were expressly excluded from the program.

Swiss Trustees and Board Members of Foundations Have to Prepare for F.A.T.C.A.

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BACKGROUND

Trusts are unknown under Swiss law and family foundations are not commonly used because their purpose is very limited by law. Consequently, many Swiss trust companies, family offices or lawyers act as trustees of non-Swiss trusts or as members of family foundations. It is not uncommon for trustees, trusts or foundations, and underlying companies to be established under the laws of different jurisdictions, and typically Liechtenstein is used.

Foreign trusts and foundations, foreign trustees and underlying holding companies that invest in the U.S. must determine their classification under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“F.A.T.C.A.”) and possibly a relevant intergovernmental agreement (“I.G.A.”). In the case of Switzerland, a Model 2 I.G.A. exists.

The determination must be made prior to the end of June 2014, even if no U.S. owners or beneficiaries are involved. The reason is that, by 1 July 2014, a foreign entity that is a Foreign Financial Institution (“F.F.I.”) must register on the I.R.S. F.A.T.C.A. portal and receive a G.I.I.N. The I.R.S. has announced that the last date to register and receive a G.I.I.N. prior to 1 July 2014 is 5 May. Registration is required unless the F.F.I. is a certified deemed-compliant F.F.I. or a Non-Financial Foreign Entity (“N.F.F.E.”). An exempt F.F.I. could be a sponsored investment entity, a sponsored closely held investment vehicle, or an owner-documented F.F.I. In each of those fact patterns, another entity is engaged to carry out the F.A.T.C.A. reporting. An N.F.F.E. is an entity that is formed outside the U.S. that is not an F.F.I.