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Swiss firmly attached to banking secrecy

Almost two-thirds of Swiss are against the abolition of banking secrecy, according to a survey commissioned by Le Matin Dimanche and the SonntagsZeitung newspapers.

However, the majority of those questioned said they would be in favour of scrapping the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion.

When asked whether banking secrecy should be abolished, 36 per cent said “no” and 26 per cent said “rather no”. The strongest defenders of banking secrecy were in the 15 to 34 age group.

The automatic exchange of information with foreign tax authorities was rejected by 55 per cent of those surveyed.

The scrapping of the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion for foreign account holders, as set out in the double taxation agreements signed by the government, was supported by 67 per cent of respondents.

A 55 per cent majority were also in favour of applying the same rules to Swiss citizens.

Up to now, Switzerland has succeeded in safeguarding the distinction it created between tax evasion, a civil offence, and tax fraud, a criminal one. The principle of secrecy stands in civil cases but is waived in instances in which authorities suspect a crime has occurred.

The survey of some 600 people was carried out by the institute Isopublic between February 11 and 13, with a margin of error of 4 per cent. and agencies

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