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Switzerland To Recognize EU Tax Code Of Conduct

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

27 June 2014

EU Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta said on June 20, 2014, that, following two years of discussions on business taxation with Switzerland, he is satisfied that changes will be made to the Swiss regime that will eliminate "harmful" tax arrangements.

Confirming the agreement, the Swiss Government said that, "during its meeting [on June 20, 2014], the Federal Council gave the go-ahead for the initialing of a mutual understanding between Switzerland and the EU on business taxation. On the EU side, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council [has also] approved this understanding. The business taxation dialogue between Switzerland and the EU is thus nearing completion."

The agreement follows the adoption in 2011 of a report entitled "Tax Policy Coordination" by EU finance ministers from states participating in the Euro Plus Pact. One of its key recommendations, in its section on avoiding harmful practices, was to engage with third countries to apply the Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) principles. It said at the time that specific attention should be given to potentially harmful tax schemes in Switzerland.

According to Swiss reports, a total of five "harmful" measures may be disassembled. These include in particular cantonal tax regimes, which the European Commission said in 2007 were seen to be distorting competition in Europe due to the differing treatment of domestic and foreign income. According to the Code of Conduct's 2011 Work Plan, other concerns raised are thought to be about ringfenced tax regimes, and the treatment of multinationals headquartered in Switzerland and branches of multinationals located in Switzerland.

In a June 20 statement issued by the European Commission (EC), Šemeta said: "Switzerland has agreed to remove a number of harmful tax regimes that were of concern to member states. Our efforts to secure fair tax competition are bearing fruit, even beyond EU borders. I must commend everyone involved in these discussions for the great outcome, and the member states themselves for the support they lent this process."

"Switzerland and the EU have now managed to reach a mutual understanding within the scope of the dialogue conducted since 2012. This understanding contains no state treaty obligations and is limited to the listing of principles and mutual intentions," it said. "Switzerland will remain actively involved in efforts to develop international standards for company taxation within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)," it added.

TAGS: compliance | tax | business | European Commission | tax avoidance | budget | Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) | agreements | multinationals | legislation | tax planning | transfer pricing | Switzerland | tax reform | standards | regulation | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe | Tax | Tax Evasion

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