Switzerland Rejects Corporate Tax Reform III in Public Vote

PicturePDFWith a majority of 59.1%, Swiss voters rejected the Corporate Tax Reform III (CTR III) in a public vote held on February 12, 2017. CTR III, which was the result of a long and complex political process, would have abolished current existing tax regimes, such as the rules for holding or mixed companies. At the same time, the reform would have introduced new internationally accepted measures such as the patent box, research and development (R&D) incentives, notional interest deduction, and basis step-up.

The negative vote raises a number of questions on the future tax landscape for companies in Switzerland and abroad, especially concerning the immediate impact on Swiss taxpayers. At a minimum, the ‘no’ vote means that the current tax legislation and tax rules remain in place and that Swiss taxpayers will not face any immediate, unanticipated changes.

Nevertheless, considering the worldwide debate and recent developments on taxation, pressure will remain on Switzerland to abolish its current tax regimes, so the need for reform remains undisputed by all parties and the Federal Council will have to work out a new reform proposal as quickly as possible. However, it is clear that the reform will not be ready to take effect in 2019 as originally planned. Instead, there will likely be a delay of two to three years.

Continue to read in detail in our current newsletter.

I have summarized the most important information for you in a short video.

VideoPictureArmin

If you have questions, please contact your usual PwC contact person or one of PwC Switzerland´s experts in CTR III named below.

Contacts

Andreas Staubli
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Services Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 44 72
andreas.staubli@ch.pwc.com
Armin Marti
Partner
Leader Corporate Tax Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com
Benjamin Koch
Partner
Leader Transfer Pricing and Value Chain Transformation
+41 58 792 43 34
benjamin.koch@ch.pwc.com
Daniel Gremaud
Partner
Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 81 23
daniel.gremaud@ch.pwc.com
Claude-Alain Barke
Partner
Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 83 17
claude-alain.barke@ch.pwc.com
Remo Küttel
Partner
Tax & Legal
+41 58 792 68 69
remo.kuettel@ch.pwc.com
Laurenz Schneider
Director
Corporate Tax
+41 58 792 59 38
laurenz.schneider@ch.pwc.com

Swiss parliament passes final corporate tax reform package to enhance global competitiveness

In brief
The Swiss parliament on June 17, 2016, following several back and forth debates, passed the final corporate tax reform package (CTR III) to strengthen Switzerland’s competitiveness as business location. CTR III includes several notable tax reform measures related to federal and cantonal tax laws, included expected reductions to certain cantonal tax rates.

 

Read the decisions of the National Council in detail in our current newsletter.

 

Next steps
The Federal Council determines when the reform measures will take effect. However, the referendum period of 100 days is first to be passed after the official publication of the legislation. If no referendum is requested, certain federal tax measures in CTR III could go into effect as early as the beginning of 2017. The cantons must then separately pass the measures related to the tax harmonization law as part of their cantonal tax legislation. Cantonal legislation changes, and any decision to reduce the cantonal corporate tax rate, would require additional approval by the cantonal electorate in case cantonal referendum would be requested as well.

A referendum opposing the federal government’s CTR III bill seems likely, as repeatedly announced by the country’s left parties. The cantonal electorate would likely have to vote on the bill in February 2017. In the event of a passing vote, the reform could take effect effective at the federal and cantonal levels starting in 2019.

The takeaway
Passage of CTR III marks an important milestone in Swiss tax legislation. Subject to approval by the Swiss electorate and subsequent implementation in the cantons, Switzerland will have an internationally recognized corporate tax system. The period of uncertainty is herewith ended and Switzerland can offer a stable tax and legal system outlook. The reform will have both, winners and losers. Switzerland will continue to have an internationally competitive federal tax system, independent of the decisions made by the cantons. Using the building blocks available under CTR III, each canton can design its own rules, tailored to its particular circumstances and requirements. However, inter-cantonal tax competitiveness is likely to increase due to diverging cantonal income tax rates.

Overall, CTR III’s reform measures are expected to keep Switzerland competitive globally for MNEs operating and domiciled in the country.

Despite maintaining tax-related location competitiveness in international comparison, the big winners of the reform will, however, be the Swiss SMEs. They will be able to benefit the most from the envisaged relief with the patent box, the R&D special deduction, the NID and the cantonal reductions in corporate income tax. The increase in partial taxation, as far as the cantons envisage this in connection with the introduction of the NID, should be bearable for entrepreneurs, as the overall burden for SME owners should not increase if one sets off the lower burden at company level against the additional burden at ownership level.

The reform is of pivotal importance for the medium- and long-term future of Switzerland. This awareness should be considered within the scope of the referendum and will be the decisive factor during the national referendum which seems to be an extremely likely possibility.

Corporate Tax Reform Act III from June 17, 2016

If you have questions, please contact your usual PwC contact person or one of PwC Switzerland´s experts in CTR III named below.

Contacts

Andreas Staubli
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Services Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 44 72
andreas.staubli@ch.pwc.com
Armin Marti
Partner
Leader Corporate Tax Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com
Benjamin Koch
Partner
Leader Transfer Pricing and Value Chain Transformation
+41 58 792 43 34
benjamin.koch@ch.pwc.com
Daniel Gremaud
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 81 23
daniel.gremaud@ch.pwc.com
Claude-Alain Barke
Partner
Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 83 17
claude-alain.barke@ch.pwc.com
Remo Küttel
Director
Tax & Legal
+41 58 792 68 69
remo.kuettel@ch.pwc.com
Laurenz Schneider
Director
Corporate Tax
+41 58 792 59 38
laurenz.schneider@ch.pwc.com

PwC Webinar: Final decision of Corporate Tax Reform III

Swiss companies and businesses will be significantly impacted by the new tax rules. At the PwC webinar we provide an update on the final CTR III package and answer questions such as:

  • What are the impacts for Swiss companies?
  • Which changes did the Parliament introduce?
  • What elements survived and what surprises does it hold?
  • And what are the next steps that lie ahead?

These and other questions are addressed during our webinar.

To access the webinar (via PC or Mobile device) – click on the following link to open the recording of the webcast:

Online recording

The presentation can be downloaded here:

Presentation

 

Speakers of this webcast

Armin Marti, Partner
Leader Corporate Tax and Member of the Working Group CTRIII
+41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com

Claude-Alain Barke, Partner
Tax & Legal
+41 58 792 83 17
claude-alain.barke@ch.pwc.com

Benjamin Koch, Partner
Leader Transfer Pricing and Value Chain Transformation
+41 58 792 43 34
benjamin.koch@ch.pwc.com

 

We look forward to welcoming you online.

CTR III VD

In September 2015, the modification of the Vaud income tax law (“LI”) has been voted by a large majority of the cantonal Parliament. Following said vote, two extreme left-wing parties launched a referendum against the revised bill. Last week end, the amendments of the bill have been approved by a surpringly vast majority of the voters (87% in favor of the new law).

The elements disclosed in the package that has been accepted can be summarized as follows:

1. Taxation of corporations

  • Abolishment of all privileged tax regimes granted at cantonal / communal level – i.e. mixed company tax regime as well as the holding tax status (provided in art.108, 109 LI). The abolishment of the articles will be effective as from January 1st 2019 onwards;
  • General reduction of the corporate income tax rate applicable at cantonal / communal level. The new rate will lead to a global effective tax rate (including federal, cantonal and communal levels), from January 1st 2019 onwards, of 13.79%;
  • Adaptation of the tax rates applicable to the “minimum tax” (art, 126 LI);
  • Harmonization of the capital tax. Regardless of the type of taxation applied to a company located in the canton of Vaud (art 118 LI), such entity will pay capital tax on the taxable equity at a rate of 0.06% to which communal multiplier will be applied (in general ranging from 2 to 2.5). The possibility to credit on the equity tax the income tax remains possible. This measure will enter into force from January 1st 2016 onwards.

2. Taxation of individuals

  • Rental values determination (deemed income for individuals owning real estate): modification of the lump sum deduction (increase from 20% to 30%) applicable to real estate aged over 20 years. The aim of this measure is to reduce the taxable amount resulting from owning real estate for a long period of time (measure aimed for retired persons to whom rental values represent an important income tax burden);
  • Increase of the lump sum deduction for health, life and accident insurance;

3. Taxation of individual who have the right to benefit from lump-sum taxation

Modification of the lump sum taxation principles as per the modifications voted at federal level. Such taxation principle is applied to non-Swiss resident who do not carry out any lucrative activities in Switzerland. Modifications are as follows:

  • Such regime will not be granted to persons with a Swiss passport. In the past, this was possible for a Swiss citizen to be married to a foreigner who was taking profit of this privileged tax regime and be granted with said regime. It was also possible to request such type of taxation regime for a Swiss citizen returning from abroad to Switzerland in the course of the first fiscal year following the return;
  • Requirements for the lump sum taxation will have to be met by both spouses;
  • Minimal lump sum amount to be determined as follows (maximal amount of the three values mentioned below and will be provided in art 15, al.3 LI):
    – CHF 400’000 of taxable basis;
    – 7 times the rental values of real estate owned;
    – 3 times the costs of lodging – amounts paid for living.
  • From January 1st 2016 onwards, lump sum taxation will also have to cover the wealth tax due by a lump sum taxpayer on its wealth attributable to Switzerland. In the canton of Vaud, it results in an increase of the minimal lump sum amount to CHF 415’000. If the determination as per the rental value or the lodging costs lead to a higher amount, percentage applied on such value or on such costs will be used to reflect wealth tax value in the determination of the lump sum amount.

4. Modification applicable to both corporations and individuals (admin matters only)

  • Payment of the taxes due. The system will be modified for corporations to align it on the one applied to individuals (monthly payment of corporate income tax amount – applicable for FY16 onwards);
  • Formal modifications of the Vaud tax law in order to reflect latest adjustments of the Swiss commercial code – formal requirements regarding the presentation of the financial statements of a company, etc.

5. Further modifications

The above mentioned bill does not include all elements currently under discussion at the federal level (Patent Box, Notional interest deduction, step-up mechanism). However, please note that there will be a transition clause that in case Vaud tax law has not legalized the step up, which will set up tax treatment of hidden reserves after abolishment of special regimes, or other federal tax reform elements into its Cantonal law as per 1 January 2019. Such transition clause will ensure that the introduction of the reduced tax rate and abolishment of special regimes as per 1 January 2019 in Vaud is aligned to the benefits to be introduced by federal tax reform timing wise.

A complete summary of parliamentary debates can be found on PWC newsletter.

Recent Developments – The decisions of the National Council

CTR_III_EN_MarchIntroduction
After in February 2016 the Economic Committee of the National Council (WAK-N) had set the parameters for Corporate Tax Reform III, on 16/17 March 2016 the National Council (NC) discussed the bill.
The matters resolved by the NC are predominantly identical with the positions taken by the National Council Committee (refer to our News Alert with the results of the WAK-N here).

Decisions of the National Council
Read the decisions of the National Council on the Federal Law on fiscal measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the business location Switzerland ( short Corporate Tax Reform III ) in our current newsletter.

The next steps
The reform package now goes back to the Council of States, which will deliberate on the remaining differences in the summer session. If significant differences were to remain between the two councils, the reform would again be passed to the National Council for further reconcilement in the autumn session. Otherwise the final vote could be held already in summer. Provided that a referendum were not called against it, the CTR III could in that case come into force as early as 2017 and the required implementation in the cantons as early as 2019.

If you have questions, please contact your usual PwC contact person or one of PwC Switzerland´s experts in CTR III named below.

Contacts

Andreas Staubli
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Services Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 44 72
andreas.staubli@ch.pwc.com
Armin Marti
Partner
Leader Corporate Tax Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com
Benjamin Koch
Partner
Leader Transfer Pricing and Value Chain Transformation
+41 58 792 43 34
benjamin.koch@ch.pwc.com
Daniel Gremaud
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 81 23
daniel.gremaud@ch.pwc.com
Claude-Alain Barke
Partner
Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 83 17
claude-alain.barke@ch.pwc.com
Remo Küttel
Director
Tax & Legal
+41 58 792 68 69
remo.kuettel@ch.pwc.com
Laurenz Schneider
Director
Corporate Tax
+41 58 792 59 38
laurenz.schneider@ch.pwc.com

New Swiss corporate tax reform positions introduced for parliamentary discussion

In brief
The Swiss parliament on June 17, 2016, following several back and forth debates, passed the final corporate tax reform package (CTR III) to strengthen Switzerland’s competitiveness as business location. CTR III includes several notable tax reform measures related to federal and cantonal tax laws, included expected reductions to certain cantonal tax rates.

Read the decisions of the National Council in detail in our current newsletter.

 

Next steps
The Federal Council determines when the reform measures will take effect. However, the referendum period of 100 days is first to be passed after the official publication of the legislation. If no referendum is requested, certain federal tax measures in CTR III could go into effect as early as the beginning of 2017. The cantons must then separately pass the measures related to the tax harmonization law as part of their cantonal tax legislation. Cantonal legislation changes, and any decision to reduce the cantonal corporate tax rate, would require additional approval by the cantonal electorate in case cantonal referendum would be requested as well.

A referendum opposing the federal government’s CTR III bill seems likely, as repeatedly announced by the country’s left parties. The cantonal electorate would likely have to vote on the bill in February 2017. In the event of a passing vote, the reform could take effect effective at the federal and cantonal levels starting in 2019.

The takeaway
Passage of CTR III marks an important milestone in Swiss tax legislation. Subject to approval by the Swiss electorate and subsequent implementation in the cantons, Switzerland will have an internationally recognized corporate tax system. The period of uncertainty is herewith ended and Switzerland can offer a stable tax and legal system outlook. The reform will have both, winners and losers. Switzerland will continue to have an internationally competitive federal tax system, independent of the decisions made by the cantons. Using the building blocks available under CTR III, each canton can design its own rules, tailored to its particular circumstances and requirements. However, inter-cantonal tax competitiveness is likely to increase due to diverging cantonal income tax rates.

Overall, CTR III’s reform measures are expected to keep Switzerland competitive globally for MNEs operating and domiciled in the country.

Despite maintaining tax-related location competitiveness in international comparison, the big winners of the reform will, however, be the Swiss SMEs. They will be able to benefit the most from the envisaged relief with the patent box, the R&D special deduction, the NID and the cantonal reductions in corporate income tax. The increase in partial taxation, as far as the cantons envisage this in connection with the introduction of the NID, should be bearable for entrepreneurs, as the overall burden for SME owners should not increase if one sets off the lower burden at company level against the additional burden at ownership level.

The reform is of pivotal importance for the medium- and long-term future of Switzerland. This awareness should be considered within the scope of the referendum and will be the decisive factor during the national referendum which seems to be an extremely likely possibility.

 

If you have questions, please contact your usual PwC contact person or one of PwC Switzerland´s experts in CTR III named below.

 

Contacts

Andreas Staubli
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Services Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 44 72
andreas.staubli@ch.pwc.com
Armin Marti
Partner
Leader Corporate Tax Schweiz
Tel. +41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com
Benjamin Koch
Partner
Leader Transfer Pricing and Value Chain Transformation
+41 58 792 43 34
benjamin.koch@ch.pwc.com
Daniel Gremaud
Partner
Leader Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 81 23
daniel.gremaud@ch.pwc.com
Claude-Alain Barke
Partner
Tax & Legal Romandie
+41 58 792 83 17
claude-alain.barke@ch.pwc.com
Remo Küttel
Director
Tax & Legal
+41 58 792 68 69
remo.kuettel@ch.pwc.com
Laurenz Schneider
Director
Corporate Tax
+41 58 792 59 38
laurenz.schneider@ch.pwc.com

Swiss Corporate Tax Reform III: how Switzerland will remain attractive

On 5 June 2015, the Swiss Federal Council published Corporate Tax Reform III for debate in parliament. The legislation is designed to boost trust in Switzerland and strengthen its position as a tax domicile. If parliament reinstates the notional interest deduction, Switzerland will be able to retain its place among the most attractive locations for doing business.

Topics of this article

  • Reform project: background and current status

  • Important reform for Switzerland

  • The reforms in detail 

Read more here.

Summary

Dating back more than thirty years, the current rules on corporate taxation – particularly the tax regimes that are due to be abolished – have been a major factor in Switzerland’s success. Plans to do away with these rules have created a great deal of legal uncertainty, raising the question of how competitive Switzerland will remain in terms of attracting international businesses.

This uncertainty came to an end when the CTR III reform package was released for parliamentary debate on 5 June 2015. Provided that parliament re-adopts the notional interest deduction, the package will contain the reform elements necessary to ensure Switzerland remains among the most attractive tax jurisdictions for corporations.

Given that Swiss public finances are in relatively good shape by international standards and that the will exists on the part of parliamentarians and the general public to adopt and implement CTR III, Switzerland will be able to preserve its reputation as a reliable, long-term, business-friendly location and an attractive tax jurisdiction for international companies. The new corporate tax legislation will help ensure the continuing success of the Swiss model in the coming decades.

 

The impact of Swiss Corporate Tax Reform III (CTR III)

Position paper of PwC Switzerland

Background

CTR III is a consequence of the tax dispute between Switzerland and the EU and a response to the internationalisation of tax competition. In the face of increasing pressure, Switzerland relented and reached an agreement with the EU, under which it must align its corporate taxation with international standards. Specifically, this involves the equal treatment of foreign and domestic income, the abolition of tax benefits for certain types of companies and the reconsideration of tax reliefs.

Objectives

With CTR III, the Swiss Federal Council has laid the foundations for Switzerland as an attractive business location. The new system is intended to strengthen Switzerland’s position as a competitive tax location and a reliable partner for domestic and international groups and Swiss SMEs. This should help to create and maintain attractive jobs and to consolidate the prosperity of Swiss society. In addition, the system seeks compliance with international standards and the safeguarding of a balanced corporate tax base.

Read more in our position paper.

If you have any further questions please contact:

Andreas Staubli
Partner, Leader Tax & Legal
andreas.staubli@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 44 72
Armin Marti
Partner, Leader Corporate Tax
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 43 43
Laurenz Schneider
Director Corporate Tax
laurenz.schneider@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 59 38
Claude-Alain Barke
Partner Tax & Legal Romandie
claude-alain.barke@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 83 17
Remo Küttel
Director Tax & Legal
remo.kuettel@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 68 69
Gil Walser
Senior Manager Tax & Legal Romandie
gil.walser@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 67 81
Benjamin Koch
Partner, Leader Transfer Pricing and
Value Chain Transformation
benjamin.koch@ch.pwc.com
+41 58 792 43 34

Federal Council sets parameters for dispatch of the Swiss Corporate Tax Reform III

Introduction

Today, the Swiss Federal Council published the main parameters/measures which are to be addressed in the Swiss Corporate Tax Reform III (CTR III) proposal, which is to be submitted to the Swiss Parliament in June 2015.

Summary of the Swiss Federal Council’s communication

The parameters, published by the Swiss Federal Council today, are based on the results of the consultation on the draft CTR III bill. The draft bill was published in September 2014 and contained a variety of new measures with the objective of maintaining and fostering Switzerland’s competitiveness as a business location, while at the same time resolving the tax controversy with the EU and also taking into account international tax developments.

Based on the findings of the consultation process, the Swiss Federal Council has given instructions to make various adjustments to the draft CTR III bill published in September 2014. The parameters set out by the Swiss Federal Council can be summarised as follows:

  • Abolition of certain current tax rules including cantonal holding, administrative and mixed company status.
  • Introduction of a Swiss Patent Box at cantonal level. This measure is subject to modifications, taking into account the latest international developments at OECD level.
  • Optional introduction of an input tax super deduction for research and development costs at cantonal level.
  • Reduction of the annual cantonal capital tax.
  • Abolition of issuance stamp tax on equity capital.
  • Introduction of comprehensive rules regarding the treatment of hidden reserves and goodwill (“step-up”).
  • Harmonisation of partial taxation rules on dividend income for private individuals.
  • Reduction of cantonal income tax rates at the discretion of the individual canton.

The Swiss Federal Council decided not to further pursue the following measures, which were part of the draft CTR III bill:

  • A capital gains tax on privately held securities by individuals shall not be introduced.
  • The proposed changes to the participation exemption and the suggested changes regarding tax loss carry forward rules will no longer be pursued.
  • As the introduction of an interest-adjusted profit tax (i.e. notional interest deduction – NID) was controversially discussed during the consultation phase and a majority of the cantons were against the introduction of NID, the Swiss Federal Council has decided, for now, to exclude the NID proposition from the reform proposal.

In addition, the Swiss Federal Department of Finance (FDF) is requested to review whether a tonnage tax should be introduced. Furthermore, the Swiss Federal Council proposed an adaptation of the fiscal equalisation rules – the Federation will participate by absorbing half of all costs which may be triggered by the cantons when reducing their cantonal income tax rates.

Next steps

As a next step, the Swiss Federal Council has instructed the FDF to prepare a dispatch of the CTR III law by June 2015 for debate in the Swiss Parliament. Due to the Swiss political process, it can be expected that the new reform measures will not come into effect before 2018 or 2020.

PwC comments

The parameters set out by the Swiss Federal Council are certainly a step in the right direction towards regaining certainty for businesses in terms of their likely future tax situation in Switzerland. They will also help to maintain Switzerland’s position as an attractive business location and demonstrate that Switzerland is keen to comply with the new international taxation standards. However, for the future prosperity of Switzerland as business location, we are of the opinion that NID should once again be made part of the CTR III law. It seems that a number of cantons have not (yet) recognised the fundamental importance of this measure for Switzerland. It will therefore be important to convince political stakeholders still further (i.e. representatives of the Swiss Parliament) that the NID measure should be re-introduced.

For any questions, please contact the following Corporate Tax III Champions at PwC Switzerland:

Armin Marti
Leader Corporate Tax Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 43 43
armin.marti@ch.pwc.com

Andreas Staubli
Leader Tax & Legal Services Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 44 72
andreas.staubli@ch.pwc.com