Swiss agree to EU savings tax talks

Algirdas Semeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, welcomes better cooperation with Switzerland Keystone

The cabinet has decided to revise Switzerland’s savings tax agreement with the European Union. The goal is to close any loopholes that reduce tax income based on savings-generated interest.

This content was published on December 18, 2013 - 17:26 and agencies

As Finance Minister Evelyn Widmer-Schlumpf told the media on Wednesday, this would require changes to the bilateral accord on how interest is taxed. She added that a prerequisite for Swiss cooperation would be guaranteed market access for Swiss banks in the EU.

In May 2013, the Council of EU finance ministers (ECOFIN) told the European Commission to start negotiations on the revision of the existing taxation of savings agreement with Switzerland. The aim is to ensure that amendments are in line with the planned revision of the European Union Savings Directive.

The revision should close loopholes to prevent tax on interest income be circumvented by using intermediary companies or certain financial instruments.

According to Widmer-Schlumpf, the automatic exchange of banking information could be up for negotiation. However, she said that there would have to be a successful OECD standard in place in order for this to work.

In terms of content, the savings tax deal is to be amended based on the existing coexistence model: retention tax with voluntary disclosure as an alternative.

The negotiations with the EC should begin early next year.

The European Commission welcomed the Swiss mandate for the negotiation of “a tougher and more ambitious savings tax agreement with the EU,” a spokeswoman for EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said on Wednesday.

“However, the core of the new agreement between the EU and Switzerland must be the automatic exchange of information , especially against the background that this will soon be the new global standard,” she added.

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