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Referendum signatures Swiss to have final say on corporate tax and gun law reforms

Campaigners with boxes and man with rifle and old Swiss army uniform

Opponents of the plans to adapt Swiss gun law argue old traditions are in danger.

(Keystone)

Campaigners have handed in the necessary signatures for nationwide votes in May on a reform on the Swiss gun law and a separate decision by parliament for an overhaul of the corporate tax system.

An alliance comprising rifle associations, hunters, gunsmiths, as well as militia officers and rightwing parties said on Thursday that it had collected over 125,000 signatures over the past three months to challenge parliament which wants to adapt the gun law to European Union rules.

The campaigners argue the EU rules will end Switzerland’s tradition of public marksmanshipexternal link competitions and impose tighter controls on Swiss gun owners.

“This diktat goes against freedom and it is unjust, useless, dangerous and anti-Swiss,” the alliance president said.

Parliament approved the bill last September and the government warned the failure to adopt and implement the regulation could lead to a dispute with the EU over the single border Schengen accord, including a common police database. 

+ The compromise deal about the gun law in parliament

Tax and pension reforms

Also on Thursday, a leftwing committee handed in 55,000 signatures to challenge a parliamentary decision concerning the overhaul of the corporate tax law combined with a reform of old age pension system.

A giant candy in red wrapping with poison sign

The proposed overhaul of the corporate tax system, combined with a financial boost of the old age system, is 'poison' according to leftwing opponents.   

(Keystone)

The group, including the Green Party and trade unions, said the law granted unfair tax advantages to international companies at the expense of spending cuts in the health and childcare sector.

“It aims to replace an inacceptable tax system with equally inacceptable fiscal privileges,” said Balthasar Glättli of the Green Party.

He added that the law was similar to a proposal rejected by Swiss voters in 2017.

Two other committees from the political right and the centre collected an additional 7,000 signatures separately. They argue it is undemocratic to link a tax reform with a planned CHF2 billion ($2 billion) injection into the ailing old age pension scheme.

Supporters of the amended tax law say Switzerland is under pressure from the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to comply with international requirements by eliminating special tax rebates for foreign companies.

The government and a majority in parliamentexternal link argue the proposed law allows Switzerland to retain its attractiveness as a low tax destination for all companies as tax reductions for patents, research and development are offset by an increase in the dividend tax. 

The government set May 19 as the date for the ballots. It will most likely be the last set of nationwide votes this year. However, parliamentary elections are scheduled for October.

swissinfo.ch/urs

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