Stolen data tax aid rejected

Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, here at a recent meeting in Luxembourg, has some explaining to do about tax assistance Keystone

The Swiss cabinet has dropped plans to allow tax administrative assistance to countries whose requests are based on stolen data. The bill is still to be discussed by parliament.

This content was published on October 16, 2013 - 14:56 and agencies

The cabinet also decided to suspend automatic notification of taxpayers before data on them is transmitted to a requesting state, while deferred notification of people who are the subject of administrative assistance proceedings is limited to exceptional cases, according to the finance ministry.

“Switzerland will thereby fulfil the applicable international standard,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Last year, parliament approved group requests for legal assistance on tax matters in line with international standards.


However, a proposal to facilitate legal assistance criteria for requests based on stolen data has been withdrawn following consultations with political parties, organisations and other institutions.

The cabinet regrets the negative response as an easing “would have created more favourable conditions for Switzerland with regard to the Global Forum”.

Under pressure

The panel, under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Group of 20 major powers, works in the area of transparency and exchange of tax information.

The government has warned that Switzerland risks being blacklisted if it fails to align with the international community on tax assistance matters.

The Global Forum is due to begin the second phase of a regular peer review.

Several countries, including India, Spain and the Netherlands, have criticised the restrictive Swiss policy. Switzerland has also been under pressure from G20 members to implement the forum’s recommendations on legal assistance.

The Swiss parliament is to discuss Wednesday’s bill at a later stage. Observers say the cabinet could face an uphill battle to win a majority in parliament.

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