Switzerland to hold national referendum on expat tax breaks

Published:  23 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Switzerland
Swiss nationals who disagreed with the special tax breaks available to expats have gathered well over the 100,000 signatures required to force a national referendum on ending the tax privileges.

The referendum is being put forward under the heading of ‘Stop Fiscal Privileges for Millionaires’ by the Alternative Left Party and will take place at some time between now and the end of 2014. At present, five of Switzerland’s 26 cantons already ban the scheme, crafted to allow foreigners to be taxed on their total annual spend in the country rather than on their assets and earnings.

The Swiss government’s announcement of the referendum came on Thursday, following a vote in Basel-Landschaft Canton which approved the ban, although the Bern Canton, home to the largest number of wealthy expats, rejected it. If the referendum results in a total ban, around 5,000 foreign residents already paying taxes of up to 700million Swiss francs annually, will be affected.

Supporters of the tax breaks insist that, if it is removed, the majority of wealthy foreigners will simply move to a more tax-friendly country. It has been pointed out that, in 2009, when the scheme was eliminated in Zurich, almost half of the city’s multi-millionaires moved on.
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