Italian tax talks back on the cards

Now ready to talk: Italian Economy and Finance Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni says the wait is over Keystone

Italy and Switzerland are preparing to restart negotiations over the taxation of Italian assets held in Swiss bank accounts to avoid higher tax rates. Talks were put on hold before the Italian elections in February.

This content was published on October 18, 2013 and agencies

Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf spoke with Italy’s Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni in Washington last week on the sidelines of a meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors.

The State Secretariat for International Financial Matters confirmed the meeting on Friday. Spokesman Mario Tuor told the two ministers agreed to restart discussions, which the Italians had put on hold given the political uncertainty earlier in the year and the change of government.

Tuor added that experts from both sides would meet in the coming weeks but no ministerial-level talks were planned yet.

Saccomanni told journalists in Rome on Thursday he had met his Swiss counterpart to discuss the issue.

Big windfall?

According to some reports, Rome is considering new rules on fiscal treatment of Italian funds sheltered in Switzerland which could bring as much as €15 billion (CHF18.5 billion) back to Italy, a source with direct knowledge of the proposals told the Reuters news agency.

The valuation is based on an estimate by Swiss authorities that Italians have parked some €100 billion of funds in the country to sidestep taxes at home, the source said.

It is considered tax fraud if an Italian puts money in a Swiss bank account without declaring it to the Italian authorities, even if they pay a Swiss levy on the deposit.

The Italian government is also apparently considering incentives to dissuade Italians from shifting their savings outside the country and encourage those already holding money in Switzerland to come forward and declare their assets.

Switzerland has already struck deals to tax assets of British and Austrian nationals but an agreement has yet to be reached with Italy since talks began last year. The British have complained though that the windfall from the agreement has been far less than expected.

A similar deal with Germany fell through after the German senate refused it.

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