SBA response to the draft amendments to the law on tax offences

The SBA strongly opposes the current draft amendments to the law on tax offences and is calling for the amendment process to be suspended:

  • Instead of the original idea of harmonisation, what is happening now is an unnecessary and disproportionate tightening of domestic tax law by the back door. The result is to place an unneeded burden on the traditional relationship of trust between citizen and state in Switzerland.
  • A new and unnecessary tax problem is being created at home in addition to the international taxation developments under way at present.

There are several reasons for rejecting the proposed coercive measures:

  • The draft does not define the conditions for opening proceedings for fiscal offences.
  • The draft also suggests that tax authorities should be able to use coercive measures such as arrest, searches and interrogation of witnesses on the mere suspicion of tax evasion. Coercive measures such as the interrogation of bank employees or access to bank data by tax officials should only be decided by a court.
  • Furthermore, these coercive measures would allow tax officials to question business partners, fiduciaries, bank employees, family members and even third parties such as neighbours. Questioning bank employees bears the risk that tax officials get unrestricted access to suspects' bank details.
  • The coercive measures put forward lay the basis for the creation of a tax police at cantonal and federal level. A tax police is unnecessary, and alien to Switzerland’s tradition in tax matters.