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Cross-border workers France pays Switzerland overdue tax bill

Finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, nudged her French counterpart, Michel Sapin - shown here in at a meeting last year in Bern - before the tax bill was settled, over three months late.


Switzerland has confirmed it received CHF320 million ($332 million) of taxes overdue since June from France for cross-border workers employed in Switzerland.

The payment was finally settled on Wednesday after Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf reminded her French counterpart Michel Sapin of the unpaid bill at the annual summit of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Lima.

Mario Tuor, a spokesman for the State Secretariat for International Matters (SIF), told that his department, responsible for global taxation matters, “sent letters to different levels of the French administration asking ‘why have you not yet paid? The deadline was on the June 30’”.

The response received at the time, he said, was that payments were being made and that “there had been administrative problems”.

When the ministers met in Lima, Sapin told Widmer-Schlumpf he would take care of it, according to Tuor.

Tuor added that SIF had offered the French a course on “how to make quick payments”, before they invoked administrative issues.

This is the second time France has taken its time in paying Switzerland. In 2013, taxes due in June weren’t credited to Swiss authorities until mid-December.

Importance for communes

A number of Swiss communes rely heavily on the fiscal revenues. Pascal Broulis, finance minister for canton Vaud, said in September that in some communes a third of their budgets came from the French transfers.

According to a bilateral tax agreement for cross-border workers, also known as frontaliers, taxes are collected by French authorities from cross-border workers who work in all Swiss cantons – with the exception of Geneva – but reside in France. Switzerland receives 4.5% of frontaliers’ salaries.

Geneva cantonal authorities tax cross-border workers directly on their locally earned salaries.

According to the Federal Statistics Officeexternal link,  approximately 156,000 French residents work in Switzerland, out of a total of some 300,000 cross-border workers nationwide.

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