20 November 2014

Switzerland moves toward automatic information exchange

Swiss Bank secrecy and data protection have been eroded by The Department of Justice investigations and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Switzerland has now taken a formal move toward greater transparency.

The Federal Council of Switzerland has adopted a new mandate for introducing a global standard for automatic exchanges of tax information with partner states. Consultation with the competent parliamentary committees and cantons has been completed and discussion with partner states will start shortly.

This past May, a draft mandate was approved to begin automatic exchange of tax information with the European Union, the US and other countries. On July 21, 2014, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) published a standard for automatic exchange of tax information which was approved by the G20 in September.

The Federal Council has recently issued a statement that there should be only one global standard which would provide that the exchange of information should be reciprocal, data protection must be ensured, and the beneficial owners of trusts and other structures must be identified. The Federal Council also stated that the issues of regularization of the past should be addressed and solutions sought as part of the negotiations.

Switzerland also reaffirmed its intention to introduce a statutory basis for the automatic timely exchange of tax information that could commence as early as 2018 with data collection to commence in 2017.

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