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Tax Geneva continues to leak super-rich taxpayers

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According to the Le Temps newspaper, lawyers blame Geneva’s current tax regime, in particular wealth tax, to partly explain why wealthy residents are leaving the canton


Over the past eight years, canton Geneva lost a steady stream of wealthy residents – those who pay over CHF1 million ($1 million) a year in tax - who moved to more tax-friendly locations like Britain and other Swiss cantons, according to a news report. 

The French-speaking Le Temps newspaper said on Thursday external linkthat between 2010-2018, Geneva had suffered a net loss of 35 of its 300 biggest taxpayers, or 11%, who had left the canton mainly to Britain and other Swiss cantons. 

During the same period, a total of 69 major tax contributors left Geneva, mainly to Britain (20), to other Swiss cantons (17), and to the United States (12). Over the same period, 34 settled in Geneva, mainly from Britain (16), other Swiss cantons (6), France (5) and the US (4). The newspaper said it had received the tax information via the Department of Finance and Human Resources. 

To explain the hemorrhaging of wealthy taxpayers, Le Temps cited several lawyers who blamed Geneva’s current tax regime, in particular wealth tax, as well as the uncertain situation and lack of opportunities to build new homes.

The 35 super-rich residents leaving the western Swiss canton contributed on average over CHF1 million a year in tax between 2010 and 2015. Their tax bill included cantonal and communal taxes on income and fortune, direct federal tax and additional accommodation tax. 

The statistics do not give a complete picture, however, as they do not include foreigners who benefit from the tailormade lump sum taxation regime. This is the cantonal system for tax exiles who pay a fixed annual sum based on their Swiss living expenses that ignores overseas earnings or accumulated wealth. This levy typically amounts to between five and seven times the rental value of their property. 

Le Temps/sb

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