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Swiss President Hopeful On German Tax Deal

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

05 November 2012

Swiss Finance Minister and acting President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is optimistic that the German Parliament will back the controversial Swiss-German bilateral tax accord recently ratified by the German Bundestag, or lower house, despite opposition in the upper house where the government lacks a majority.

The agreement, which is similar to deals already ratified by Austria and Britain, is due to come into force on January 1 next year. German opposition parties including the SPD and the Greens have threatened to veto the deal in the German upper house, the Bundesrat, maintaining that the lack of provision for an automatic exchange of tax information, including the identity of account holders, is too lenient on tax evaders.

Widmer-Schlumpf said on Wednesday that: “There is a 50-50 chance that it is adopted” adding that she was confident that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble could bring it through. Widmer-Schlumpf added that even if the Bundesrat were to reject the deal, it could be saved by a mediation procedure that seeks to resolve the differences between the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.

In a separate development, the Swiss government said on Wednesday that it had granted permission for the finance department to increase the number of staff dealing with requests for assistance in tax affairs from foreign authorities. The number of such requests has increased from 370 last year to 704 so far this year and follows an agreement to weaken its rules regarding bank secrecy reached in 2009.

TAGS: individuals | compliance | Wealth | tax | investment | tax compliance | law | banking | offshore | offshore banking | tax planning | withholding tax | Germany | Switzerland

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