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Message
2014/09/25 00:00:00 GMT+2

Statement from the Swiss Bankers Association regarding the “Yes to the protection of privacy” initiative (Matter initiative)

  • By seeking to strengthen financial privacy, the “Yes to the protection of privacy” (Matter initiative) is in principle addressing an important matter.
  • The scope of financial privacy with respect to the tax authorities is a political issue and must be decided by the Swiss voters.
  • But the banks in Switzerland are of the opinion that the initiative is inexpedient and the Swiss Bankers Association’s (SBA) Board of Directors has decided not to support the initiative for the following reasons:
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    A separate article in the Federal Constitution is unnecessary, because the protection of privacy is already sufficiently enshrined in the Constitution and the law. Any such article would seriously complicate potentially necessary future amendments to the tax laws.
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    Under the initiative, simple tax evasion remains possible and even becomes enshrined in constitutional law. This contradicts the objectives of a tax-compliant financial centre.
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    The banks are not the tax police and are not responsible for their clients’ tax situations. The SBA is of the opinion that the initiative goes directly against this principle. The banks and the bankers would be exposed to increased liability risks and would have more responsibility, in that, for example, they could be compelled to testify against their clients.
  • The banks in Switzerland recognise that there must be amendments to the tax law in the context of tax compliancy in Switzerland.
  • The SBA requests that the Swiss Federal Council first conducts an overall assessment of all tax-relevant dossiers and harmonises any potential measures.
  • The SBA will contribute constructively to this process, expects, however, that new measures will conform with the following five principles:
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    The state and the tax authorities should intervene as little as possible in the privacy of individual taxpayers.
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    Bankers are not responsible for their clients meeting their tax liabilities.
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    Bankers cannot take on any additional responsibilities.
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    Potential amendments must be flanked by fair solutions for the past.
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    The measures must stand up to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis and cannot compromise the competitive position of the Swiss financial centre internationally.