Statement of the Swiss Bankers Association on the FDF's discussion paper on the strategy for a tax-compliant and competitive financial centre

  • For over two years now, banks in Switzerland have been pursuing a strategy of tax compliance, the key elements of which consist of a solution for the past (regularisation), a solution for the future (final anonymous withholding tax for the future), the protection of privacy for taxed assets and growth through market access.
  • The SBA is pleased that the Federal Council continues to support this strategy and has clearly pronounced itself against an automatic exchange of information.
  • The SBA supports reasonable, practicable measures that help to ensure an effective and credible implementation of this strategy.
  • In this sense, the SBA has been working on risk-based codes of conduct that impose on banks due diligence measures, in a similar way to the well-established Swiss approach to combating money laundering. The relevant national tax laws will form the basis for initial assessments. Further criteria still need to be established while taking into account international developments.
  • The codes of conduct will stipulate a risk-based approach whereby it makes sense for banks to obtain a declaration from clients about their tax situation ("self declaration") if they have indications that the clients have not complied with their tax obligations. However, the SBA rejects a systematic duty of self-declaration as it has no credibility abroad, is unlikely to become an international standard, does not provide a solution for assets already deposed in Switzerland and casts suspicion over all clients.
  • It is important that in Switzerland not only banks but also all financial intermediaries be required to implement these new provisions. In addition, Switzerland must make every effort to ensure that other financial centres also resolutely commit themselves to tax compliance and take appropriate measures involving locally based financial intermediaries.