Based on a general decision taken by Switzerland’s Federal Council in March 2009, Switzerland provides for administrative assistance in tax matters upon specific request only, and exclusively for those jurisdictions with which a respective double taxation agreement, or an agreement on exchange of information, has been concluded.
However, until today, the governments of 69 countries, including all G20 states and including Switzerland, have signed the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. In July 2014, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) council defined an enhanced global standard for automatic exchange of information. As of October 2014, 51 countries had already signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) in order to support this automatic exchange of information.
Swiss sign up
Since not only the countries of the EU, but also jurisdictions such as the Bermudas, British Virgin Islands, Mauritius and many more are among the signatory countries, and considering the international pressure put on Switzerland to follow the new global standard, the Swiss Federal Council signed the MCAA in November 2014, too. On 14 January 2015, the draft legislation in order to adopt the convention, as well as the MCAA, was published.
Given the rather complex and time consuming legislation process in Switzerland, the respective amendments of the existing administrative assistance rules will most probably not be effective prior to 2018. Nevertheless, it might be worthwhile having a closer look at the expected changes.
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Christoph Niederer is a partner and the head of Zurich Tax Department, and Fiona Gao Yue is an associate of China Desk at VISCHER.
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