EU to remove Switzerland from tax haven lists

Canton Obwalden's low tax rates attract companies and millionaires Keystone

European Union finance ministers are set to remove Switzerland from the bloc’s lists of countries deemed to act as tax havens, an EU document said. 


On October 10 they are expected to remove Switzerland from the grey list that includes countries that have committed to change their tax rules to make them compliant with EU standards. 

Switzerland has delivered on its commitments, the document said on Friday, acknowledging that a tax reform passed last year – and due to be in force from 2020 – was sufficient to meet EU demands.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be dropped from the blacklist, which includes jurisdictions that have failed to cooperate with the EU on tax matters. The Pacific archipelago of the Marshall Islands will also be removed from that list.  

That would leave nine jurisdictions on the list: Belize, Fiji, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and the three US territories of American Samoa, Guam and the US Virgin Islands.

Blacklisted states face reputational damage and stricter controls on transactions with the EU.

Tax reforms

The 28-nation EU set up a blacklist and a grey list of tax havens in December 2017 after revelations of widespread avoidance schemes used by corporations and wealthy individuals to lower their tax bills. The lists are regularly reviewed to take account of overhauls or to add new jurisdictions.

The EU placed Switzerland on the grey list in December 2017. There had been fears that Switzerland would be black-listed after voters rejected corporate tax reforms earlier in the year. Voters believed the new regime would unfairly benefit big companies at the expense of smaller firms and individuals. 

Albania, Costa Rica, Mauritius and Serbia are also set to be removed from the grey list next week. Dozens of jurisdictions around the world remain listed, including the Cayman Islands, Turkey, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

If they fail to deliver on their commitments by set deadlines, they are moved to the blacklist.

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