A leftwing committee has gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the government’s proposed tax cuts worth over SFr2 billion ($1.52 billion).This content was published on October 9, 2003 - 16:13
The result is a second blow for the authorities after 11 cantons voted to hold an historic referendum against tax breaks for families and homeowners and on stamp duty.
The committee had until Thursday to submit the signatures to the Federal Chancellery. The Greens, the Social Democrats, the Far Left, tenants’ associations and public service unions are all behind the referendum.
“Unfair” tax cuts
The backers of the vote said the planned tax breaks for families and homeowners were unfair and made no sense, particularly at a time when political parties on the right are trying to reduce government expenditure.
“The losses generated by the tax breaks mean that the state has less room to manoeuvre,” said Ruth Genner, the co-president of the Green Party.
“As a result, the government has to save where it can, backing away from necessary investments.”
The committee criticised the fact that family tax breaks were given to everyone, irrespective of their real needs.
It added that property tax needed revising, but said that the model chosen by parliament was unsatisfactory.
The committee said it realised that its own work may seem redundant after the cantons decided to force a vote on the issue themselves, but said that it was the only way taxpayers could make their own opinions heard during the upcoming debate on tax reform.
Eleven cantons have so far approved holding the historic cantonal referendum, when only the approval of eight was necessary. It will be the first time ever that the cantons have forced a national vote on an issue.
Those supporting the vote say they cannot afford to lose income derived from federal taxes worth SFr510 million, a figure that does not include losses incurred from cuts to cantonal and local taxes.
It is mostly poorer cantons such as Bern and Vaud that have given their agreement to the referendum, while wealthier ones such as Zug or Schwyz have rejected it.
Voters will only be polled once on the tax breaks despite the fact there are two separate referendums. They will be asked if they support the government’s proposal or not.
The vote should take place next May. If the tax cuts are accepted, they will become effective on January 1, 2005.
swissinfo with agencies
Parliament approved tax cuts worth over SFr2 billion in June.
The tax breaks benefit families and homeowners, and also cut stamp duty.
The cantons have launched a historical referendum against the cuts, which could cost SFr510 million in federal funding.
A leftwing committee has also collected enough signatures for its own vote against the tax breaks, saying they are unfair and make no sense when the government is being forced to cut spending.
Swiss voters will decide in May next year whether to maintain the cuts.
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