Position of Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) on Swiss Government’s planned revisions to administrative assistance in tax matters

  • The SBA notes that the Swiss Government wants to make technical revisions to the requirements for administrative assistance in tax matters because of the risk of a negative peer review from the OECD’s Global Forum. With regard to the identification of a taxpayer and also of the holder of the relevant information (i.e. a bank), the proposed revisions foresee that other criteria besides a name will in exceptional cases be allowed. A bank account number, for example, together with sufficient other references could suffice to identify a client provided that no “fishing expedition” is intended.
  • In most cases, however, the identification of taxpayers and holders of the relevant information (i.e. a bank) in the context of requests for administrative assistance will continue to be done by means of a name and address.
  • The SBA is examining the proposed revisions, taking into account various fundamental changes that have taken place since March 2009. Since then the Swiss banking sector has declared it is to focus on acquiring and managing assets which have been subject to taxation and the ongoing negotiations with Germany and the United Kingdom are taking this position into account.
  • In its decision whether or not to agree to the proposed revisions the SBA will of course take into account the interests of the Swiss economy as a whole. The Swiss economy would face a substantial risk if Switzerland were once again to be placed on some grey or black list.
  • The SBA expects the following from the Swiss Government:
    1. The proposed revisions must not make any substantial difference to administrative assistance procedures in practice. So-called “fishing expeditions” and also mass-requests for information must continue to be ruled out and administrative assistance must continue to be based on justified requests.
    2. Any revisions to double taxation treaties must adhere to the Government’s fundamental principles on administrative assistance laid down in March 2009 and, when the treaties are applied in practice, positive identification of an individual must continue to be the rule.
    3. Within the context of the OECD the interests of the Swiss financial centre must be represented in a consistent and robust manner and any attempts to introduce a system of automatic information exchange must be resolutely rejected.
  • The SBA was surprised by the Global Forum’s action but now expects its peer review to be concluded rapidly and in a manner that is positive for Switzerland.