How much VAT will you pay for 1 franc of turnover in Switzerland?

Be it a necessary evil or smart compliance, VAT is a key topic – and now also concerns companies without a business location in Switzerland, from their very first franc of turnover in Switzerland.

You operate a shuttle company headquartered abroad and drive passengers to a Swiss airport. Or you are a kitchen manufacturer in the EU and equip houses in Switzerland with the latest designs. Or you are responsible for catering at an event on the Swiss side of the border. These examples have one thing in common: since 1 January 2018 all these companies have been subject to the partially revised Swiss Federal Act on Value Added Tax (VAT Act) – with far-reaching consequences.

New VAT provisions for all companies without a business location in Switzerland

If your company does not have a business location in Switzerland, the revised VAT Act introduces changes to the VAT registration obligation. Your company may be subject to Swiss VAT even if it is not established in Switzerland. The key question is whether your services have a connection to Switzerland. In principle, this is the case if your company generates turnover in Switzerland. This means that Switzerland represents a place of supply for VAT – which you will have to pay.

From the very first franc

Your tax liability in Switzerland is not determined by your turnover in Switzerland, but by your global turnover. If you generate less than CHF 100,000 from your services in Switzerland, but at least CHF 100,000 internationally, from 2018 onwards you are subject to VAT in Switzerland from the very first franc of turnover.

Low-value consignments remain exempt from tax on importation. However, under the new VAT legislation, (online) retailers that generate over CHF 100,000 of turnover per year in Switzerland through the supply of goods will be liable for VAT from 1 January 2019 onwards. In other words, you must charge Swiss VAT on services of this type.

From now on: proceed step by step

You no doubt wish to continue your business operations in Switzerland. To do so, you need an intelligent solution that avoids excessive costs and tedious complexity. We recommend proceeding as follows – if possible very soon, because the revised VAT Act has been in force since the beginning of the year.

  1. Register for Swiss VAT to receive your Swiss VAT number.
  2. Appoint a reliable fiscal representative to deal with the Swiss tax authorities on your behalf.
  3. Register for the electronic filing of quarterly Swiss VAT declarations.
  4. Submit the required quarterly VAT declarations.
  5. Keep an overview of all your correspondence with the tax authorities – including your replies.

Clever solution with Smart VAT

We have developed an online solution that is both simple and fast, and exclusively designed for businesses like yours: Smart VAT. This platform offers a number of advantages at the same time: Your VAT registration only takes a few moments. You can then continue your business activities in Switzerland without any interruptions – and with peace of mind, because you are acting fully in compliance with the law. And last but not least, Smart VAT is as simple and user friendly as online banking. And remember: registration for Smart VAT is free of charge. You simply pay a minimum annual fee for fiscal representation.

Find out more about Smart VAT here.


Julia Sailer
Director, VAT compliance services leader
+41 58 792 44 57

Swiss bond trading report 2018

Regulation of bond trading: Setting the scene

The following chapter will provide an overview of the key regulatory requirements for trading professionally in securities in the form of a bond in Switzerland.

A bond in the form of a «security» in the sense of Art. 2 para. 1 lit. b FinfraG/FMIA is offered at uniform conditions to multiple parties. Securities are, in other words, standardised, certificated and uncertificated financial instruments suitable for mass trading. They are thus either offered publicly in a similar structure and denomination or placed with more than 20 clients, unless they are being created specifically for individual counterparties.

A security in the form of a bond can trigger multiple legal consequences when being traded. These consequences are:

  • Persons professionally trading in securities will potentially have to apply for a licence as a securities dealer (the Swiss equivalent of an investment firm or broker/dealer).
  • Facilities allowing for the multilateral trading of securities require a licence as a stock exchange or multilateral trading facility (MTF).
  • Facilities allowing for the bilateral trading of securities must be operated by a duly licensed operator (the Swiss bilateral version of an OTF,which replaces the Systematic Internaliser in the EU).
  • The public offering of securities requires a prospectus. The listing of securities on a trading venue (stock exchange and MTF) also requires the filing of a listing application and the creation of an accompanying prospectus.

Read the full report

Contact Us

Martin Liebi
Director, PwC Legal Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 28 86

EMEA PE Webcast Series – Episode Four – VAT consequences of a corporate tax permanent establishment

Tuesday, 17 April 2018, 3.00 – 3.45 pm CET

After a short break, we are pleased to inform you that we will resume the PE Webcast Series, with Episode 4 – VAT consequences of a corporate tax permanent establishment.

In this webcast specialists from our international tax and VAT practice will compare the objectives and concepts of a corporate tax permanent establishment with a VAT fixed establishment (FE).

We will walk through practical examples to demonstrate the interaction of these rules, outlining the VAT consequences of creating a corporate tax PE, as well as the corporate tax position if you have a VAT FE.  As part of the discussion we will highlight trends in the application of PE and FE rules by tax authorities, leading in some cases to a blurring of the concepts.

You will have the chance to raise questions directly to our specialists.

Speakers for episode four will include:

  • Monica Cohen-Dumani – Partner, International Tax Services, EMEA ITS Leader – PwC Switzerland
  • Ine Lejeune – Partner Tax Policy, Dispute Resolution & Litigation – Law Square
  • Herman van Kesteren – Partner Indirect Taxes – PwC Netherlands

Registration Link

Complete the required registration fields and select “Submit”.
Once you have registered, you will receive the WebEx access details. The WebEx will be recorded and you will receive a link to the recording via e-mail after the event using the same details. There will be time for questions and answers with your speakers during the WebEx. Questions can also be sent in advance of the
WebEx session to the following email address:

We do hope that you will join us online!

Best regards,
Monica Cohen-Dumani


Monica Cohen-Dumani
Partner, EMEA ITS Central Cluster Leader
+41 58 792 97 18

Grasiele Teixeira Neves
International tax services
+41 58 792 98 25

QI and CRS Updates

IRS opens QI portal for the Responsible Officer Certification and published new FAQs

On 4 April 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has opened the QI portal and published new FAQs regarding the upcoming QI Responsible Officer certification. A new section titled “Periodic Certification” has been added to the existing FAQs.

Please refer to the following link for access to the updated FAQs.

Additionally, the IRS has updated the QI User Guide and made it available on its website (see “Publication 5262”). You can find the updated QI User Guide here.

OECD news regarding CRS

On 5 April 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) published an updated list of all activated CRS agreements on its website.

Please refer to the following link for access to the updated list.

There are now more than 2700 bilateral agreements in place.

Additionally, the OECD published an updated version of the CRS Implementation Handbook, which can be accessed under the following link.

The Implementation Handbook is a guidance for governments to refer to in terms of their implementation of CRS rules into their local legislation and guidance, as well as a practical overview of CRS for the financial sector and the wider public.

We will continue to keep you updated as we follow and analyze these updates over the next few days. In the meantime, we are happy to answer any of your QI- and CRS-related questions.


Bruno Hollenstein
Partner, Operational Tax
+41 58 792 43 72

Restrictions related to the sale, distribution, or marketing of CFD and Binary Options to EU-domiciled retail investors also for Swiss-based financial market participants coming soon

The European regulator ESMA has announced that soon restrictions related to the sale, distribution, or marketing of CFD and Binary Options to retail investors domiciled in the EU will become effective. The prohibitions will also apply  to Swiss based financial market participants engaging in such activities purely on a cross-border basis. The restrictions will become effective one month in case of Binary Options respectively two months in case of CFD after their publication in the Official Journal and will last for three months, but might be prolonged thereafter. Affected market participants have thus some limited time to prepare.

Restrictions applicable to contracts for difference (CFD)

Affected by the restrictions are contracts for differences (CFD), meaning any derivative other than an option, future, swap, or forward rate agreement, the purpose of which is to give the holder a short or long exposure to fluctuations in the price, level, or value of the underlying that must be settled in cash or may be settled in cash at the option of one party other than by reason of default or another termination event. Warrants and turbo certificates are not affected.

The restrictions will consist of the following measures:

  • Leverage limits: leverage limits will apply on the opening of CFD positions. The following initial margin requirements will apply:
    • 3,33% if the underlying is composed of any two of the following currencies: USD, EUR, JPY, GBP, CAD, or CHF.
    • 5% when the underlying is one of the key mentioned international indices, a currency pair of at least one of the currencies mentioned above, or gold.
    • 10% when the underlying is another commodity or another equity index.
    • 50% if the underlying is a cryptocurrency.
    • 20% if the underlying is a stock not listed above.
  • Margin close-out rules per account: margin close-out rules per account and not per position apply if the sum of the funds in the CFD trading account and the unrealised net profits of all CFD positions connected to that account fall to less than half of all initial margins of these CFD-positions. Margin close-out rules of 50% per position are still applicable.
  • Negative balance protection on a per account basis: negative balance protection on a per account basis limits a retail investor’s aggregate liability for all CFDs connected to a CFD trading account with a CFD provider to the funds in the CFD trading account.
  • Restrictions of incentives of CFD trading: no monetary benefits can be provided to retail investors other than the proof of a CFD. These restrictions will apply to all existing and prospective clients.
  • Risk warning: appropriate risk warnings must be included in all communication and publications containing the percentage of retail investors that lost money over the preceding twelve months.

Restrictions applicable to Binary Options

Restrictions will also apply to Binary Options, meaning any cash settled derivative in which the payment at close-out or expiry of a predetermined fixed monetary amount or zero depends on whether one or more specified events in relation to the underlying occur at, or prior to the derivative’s expiry. There will be a three-month prohibition on the marketing, distribution, or sale of Binary Options to retail investors domiciled in the EU.

Contact Us

Martin Liebi
Director, PwC Legal Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 28 86


A primer on the regulation of the trading in cryptocurrencies and the asset management related to cryptocurrencies in Switzerland

Cryptocurrencies, which are based on distributed ledger technology, have gained importance in financial services in the recent past. This primer seeks to give an overview of the key obligations under Swiss regulatory laws related to:

  • Trading in cryptocurrencies
  •  Initial coin offerings (ICOs)
  • Entities trading in cryptocurrencies
  • Asset management related to cryptocurrencies
  • Anti-money laundering obligations

Trading in cryptocurrencies is increasingly subject to regulation on multiple levels, namely:

  • Trading
  •  ICOs
  • Entities trading in cryptocurrencies
  • Asset management related to cryptocurrencies

Payment tokens, exchange of cryptocurrencies into fiat money, custody wallets, banks, securities dealers and asset managers are generally subject to anti-money laundering requirements, such as registration, supervision and identification of counterparty requirements. Anti-money laundering obligations are the basic regulatory requirements that apply to most entities trading in cryptocurrency markets. Depending on their additional activities, they might require a licence as a bank, securities dealer (Swiss version of an investment firm), bilateral organised trading facility (OTF) or asset manager, or a combination of these licences. Switzerland is also planning to introduce a new licence category in the near future, called fintech-bank. Licences are required in the cases listed below.

  • Accepting client deposits, in particular when issuing OTC derivatives which are not securities, generally requires a banking licence. The banking licence is the highest regulated category of financial market participation. Cryptocurrencies and their associated private keys may be deposits under the Swiss Banking Act.
  • Trading in cryptocurrencies which are securities, either on behalf of clients or on one’s own account (if certain turnover thresholds are being exceeded), generally requires a securities dealer licence. The licensing requirements also apply to the entity’s public issuing of derivatives. Bilateral systematic internalisation of cryptocurrencies and related derivatives or financial instruments is subject to additional regulatory requirements under the Swiss Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FMIA).
  • Asset management activities related to Swiss and foreign collective investment schemes regarding cryptocurrencies and related financial instruments generally require a licence. The distribution of collective investment schemes and the representation of foreign collective investment schemes also require a licence. Individual portfolio management and advisory activities are, under the current regulatory regime, not subject to a licensing requirement (except for AML registration). However, this is likely to change under the new regulatory regime planned to enter into force soon.

Trading in cryptocurrencies that are derivatives may be subject to multiple obligations depending upon the status of the counterparties involved, such as reporting and risk mitigation (trade confirmation, portfolio reconciliation, portfolio compression, dispute resolution and valuation, as well as initial and variation margins).

Read Full Report

Contact Us

Martin Liebi
Director, PwC Legal Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 28 86

Swiss Company Leadership and the Gender Divide (2008-2018) – Report

Earlier this month, PwC joined forces with the data insight company Business-Monitor to publish a new gender parity analysis of all companies registered in Switzerland about the development of gender inequality within the workforce over the past decade. “This report aims to bring a new perspective on the representation of women in decision-making positions in the Swiss economy and how the landscape has changed over the past ten years.(Swiss Company Leadership and the Gender Divide, 2008-2018)

Key findings

  1. Women are “stuck” at lower-level decision making roles and change is not about to occur. The research confirms that the “glass ceiling” metaphor is not a myth. In 2018, less than one in four decision-makers in Swiss businesses are women. Over the past ten years, this rate has consistently diminished, as in 2008, the proportion of females in decision-making roles was one in three.
  2. There is a surprising difference between female representation trends of Limited companies (LTDs) and Limited Liability companies (LLCs). Although gender imbalance is lower in LLCs, both types of legal entities have an unequal percentage of women in decision-making roles (16.8% for LTDs and 27.1% for LLCs, in 2018) and an uneven gender spread across the responsibility hierarchy. This trend has slightly improved over the last decade in LTDs but the data shows that this is not the case for LLCs. An overall 2.2% drop in females holding decision-making roles can be observed over the past 10 years. Although LTDs are the best examples of the “glass ceiling” phenomenon, it is harder to break in LCCs.
  3. Gender balance is poorer in newer companies. With the efforts undertaken by the Swiss government and other worldwide organizations to raise awareness for equal pay and representation, one would assume that newly established companies are the front runners in terms of balanced workforces. Surprisingly, research shows that this is not the case. Companies founded after 2008 have a higher gender imbalanced rate than pre-existing ones.

What’s next?

The striking statistical data raises important questions as to why these gender imbalances exist, what strategies companies can implement to tackle them and why it would be beneficial for them do so. Indeed, the report identifies a compelling business case for gender equality, which can only be achieved through: a clear vision, leadership engagement and an action plan engaging the entire workforce and key partners to be more Diverse & Inclusive. These actions can ignite the change so your organization can be part of the journey to gender parity across the globe.

To understand where your organization is today regarding Diversity & Inclusion, we encourage you to take our short survey. After completion, you will receive an assessment indicating the strengths and opportunity areas of your program. You will also receive indications on how you compare to the benchmark of other companies in your region and industry.

At PwC we are committed to becoming more Diverse and Inclusive through a number of ongoing actions, including the HeforShe program. Our active HeforShe ambassadors are committed to ensuring equal pay for our workforce by becoming EQUAL-SALARY Certified.

We look forward to engaging in conversations with you on this topic.

PwC Switzerland
Sue Johnson
Tel. +41 58 792 90 98

PwC Switzerland
Christina Yap
Tel +41 58 792 90 29

Geneva International VAT Breakfast: E-invoicing & hot topics in indirect taxes

E-invoicing & hot topics in indirect taxes

So far, 2018 has been a very dense year for indirect tax professionals with various hot topics arising. In Switzerland, for instance, the recent clear rejection of the initiative “No Billag” will lead to changes in the scope of the radio-television fees that will be applicable to businesses as from 1 January 2019.

At the same time, compliance with e-invoicing and e-archiving obligations are being introduced in various jurisdictions such as Italy. During our upcoming event, we will go through the new rules and the compliance obligations across EU and Switzerland in terms of e-invoicing and e-archiving.

We will also follow up on the definition of fixed establishment providing insight on the recent developments particularly in Poland. The International VAT Breakfast will also feature recent hot topics that can impact businesses operating worldwide, such as the EU commission proposal for flexible VAT rates, the measures to strengthen VAT fraud prevention adopted by EU and non-EU countries and the introduction of the reverse charge mechanism for imports of goods in Portugal as from 1 March 2018.

Finally, as always, we will share with you the most significant developments with respect to the EU and Swiss case law.

To register for this event: Click here

Contact us

Patricia More
Tel.+41 58 792 95 07

Disclose 27, Focus piece 4: PwC’s Experience Center

Disclose – PwC’s online magazine

«It takes people, digital technologies and trust to achieve top performance.»

Reading our latest issue of Disclose ( you’re sure to get an adrenaline rush as we investigate a topic with particularly close connections to sport: high-performing organisations.

Focus piece 4 gives you an insight into PwC’s Experience Center:

Digitisation is sweeping companies of all sizes in all industries and areas of value creation. That’s nothing new. What is new is the high-performing approach adopted by PwC’s Experience Center as it guides its clients through digital transformation. PwC’s 28 similar experience centres worldwide produce concrete results and provide first-hand experiences, from strategy to implementation – all in next to no time. In this interview, Holger Greif, Leader Digital Transformation, explains how it works and why PwC’s Experience Center in Zurich has its expert hands full.

Read the full report here.


Holger Greif
Partner, Leiter Digital Transformation, PwC Schweiz
+41 58 792 13 86

Release of dispatch and bill for tax proposal 17

The Federal Council drew up the bill based on responses received during the consultation process on the revised tax proposal (TP17). This bill is supported by the cantons as well as the cities and communes and was forwarded to parliament for discussion on Wednesday, 21 March 2018.

If the reform proposal can be dealt with in Swiss parliament expeditiously and without referendum, it is anticipated that some measures of the bill will already enter into force in 2019 with the remaining provisions in 2020.

The objectives

The overall objectives of TP17 remain unchanged, i.e. abolition of special forms of corporate taxation (Swiss tax regimes) and improve the attractiveness of Switzerland as a business location for domestic and foreign companies, maintain and create jobs, adjust the corporate tax law to the new international standards and enhance international acceptance of it. In addition and to take into account the learnings from the negative vote on corporate tax reform III in February 2017, the bill puts more emphasis on the financial impact of the tax reform on the federal as well as on municipalities’ and cities’ budgets.

In detail, the bill includes the following measures:

Measures to sustain international acceptance and competitiveness

  1. Abolition of criticised Swiss tax regimes
    In line with its international commitments, Switzerland will abolish the holding, domicile and mixed company privileges at cantonal level as well as the practices regarding principal taxation and the Swiss finance branches at federal level.
  2. Introduction of a patent box (cantonal level only)
    The patent box regime shall be mandatory for the cantons. The law outlines that Swiss or foreign patents will qualify for the patent box, but also comparable rights, such as certain protection certificates (thereafter “IP” or “IP rights”). In line with international OECD standards, the modified nexus approach (nexus ratio) will apply by patent, by product or by group of products.
    Where the IP right is embedded in a product, the residual profit method shall apply. The net profit from such products shall be reduced by a (routine) profit component of 6% on attributable costs as well as by a trademark related profit component. The maximum allowable relief amounts to 90%, applied to net residual profits from patented products post nexus ratio. Cantons may further reduce the maximum relief.
    Upon the first application of the patent box to a specific IP, any related R&D expenses that were deducted in Switzerland as tax deductible expenses in the past must be added back to the taxable income. Cantons are free to determine the entry taxation modalities within the first five years after entrance into the patent box.
    An ordinance to be issued by the Federal Council will provide more detailed implementation guidance including details on the calculation of the qualifying patent net income, documentation rules and begin / end of the reduced taxation.
  3. Additional deduction for R&D (cantonal level only)
    The introduction of an additional deduction for R&D expenditures is optional for the cantons. The deduction can amount to a maximum of 50% of the R&D costs incurred by the tax payer or the amounts paid to a domestic third party. R&D is defined by reference to article 2 of the Federal law from December 14, 2012 on promoting research and innovation.
    The cost basis is defined i) by reference to the direct R&D labour costs increased by a 35% up-lift for R&D related indirect costs plus ii) 80% of R&D costs invoiced by domestic third parties.
  4. Maximum relief limitation (cantonal level only)
    The aggregated reductions of the tax basis through the patent box, additional deduction for R&D expenditures and a step-up tax depreciation stemming from an early exit from a current tax regime in accordance with current cantonal practice shall not exceed 70%. Cantons may introduce lower thresholds of the relief limitation.
  5. Increase of cantons’ share of direct federal tax and reduction of cantonal income tax rates
    In order to support cantons in connection with the implementation of the measures of TP17 it is envisaged to increase the cantons’ shares of direct federal tax receipts from currently 17% to 21.2%. Although not earmarked for specific purposes it is expected that the cantons will use the additional funds to implement the measures of TP17 according to their needs but also to finance (significant) reductions of corporate income tax rates. The latter element is not directly included in the newly issued bill, since the determination of the magnitude of the cantonal corporate income tax rate reduction is subject to individual decision and approval process for each of the cantons.
    The lowered overall effective income tax rates (federal and cantonal) is to be expected in the range of approx. 12% to 18%.
  6. Annual capital tax (cantonal level only)
    The cantons may implement a reduction of the portion of taxable equity relating to investments and qualifying patents.
  7. Transitional rules for previous special-regime companies (cantonal level only)
    The transitional rules foresee, that hidden reserves (including goodwill) will be subject to a separate reduced taxation during a 5 year period to the extent they have not been subject to income taxes in Switzerland to date. The relevant applicable tax rate is at the discretion of the cantons. This rule is not subject to the ordinary entry into force provision and may be applied by the cantons already somewhat earlier than the ordinary effective date of the other provisions of the reform.
    Companies will have to report the hidden reserves (including goodwill) with the last tax return prepared and filed under the old (currently applicable) law in order to benefit from the five year transition rule.
  8. Step-up of hidden reserves upon migration to Switzerland
    Companies or business functions migrated to Switzerland from abroad may benefit from a step-up of hidden reserves (including goodwill) up to the fair market values in the tax balance sheet in the first tax return. Such a step-up will not trigger Swiss income tax consequences. The tax deductible amortisation of the stepped-up assets must be in line with applicable Swiss safe harbour rates. Capitalised goodwill will have to be amortised over a period of 10 years.

Further measures

  1. Broadening of the lump-sum tax credit
    According to the bill, it is also the intention to provide a new legal basis to enable ordinarily taxed Swiss branches of foreign companies to claim a lump-sum tax credit for foreign withholding taxes under certain circumstances. Respective details will be part of a new ordinance.
  2. Transposition threshold abolished
    The 5% threshold applicable to shares transferred to a self-owned company will be abolished. Accordingly, the transfer or sale of any shares, regardless of the amount or stake held, could result in taxable income at the level of the individual shareholder.

Measures to balance the reform

  1. Increased taxation on dividends for Swiss individual residents
    Dividends from qualifying investments should be taxed at 70% on the federal level and at least 70% on the cantonal level. Currently, on the federal level, a taxation of 50% for business assets and 60% for private assets applies. At the cantonal level, it cannot be excluded that the minimum taxation threshold will even be higher than 70%.
  2. Family allowance
    The minimum children’s and education allowances shall be increased by CHF 30 per month to a minimum of CHF 230 and CHF 280 per child respectively.
  3. Notional interest deduction
    Despite the recognised importance of this measure for the attractiveness of Switzerland as a business location, the measure of a notional interest deduction – at least as a voluntary measure at cantonal level – is not included in the bill. It is possible that during the parliamentary debate some stakeholders may request a reintroduction of a notional deduction on qualifying equity into the reform package.

The takeaway

The starting point for the tax reform is the alignment of Swiss corporate taxation rules with international standards. TP17 and the cantonal implementation plans shall, however, also ensure that Switzerland remains an attractive business location.

Against the background of the rejected corporate tax reform III, the published bill is a political compromise which is supported by the cantons, as well as by the cities and communes with the objective of avoiding a referendum. Ultimately, according to the Federal Council’s assessment, TP17 means that status companies will have to pay some more taxes although new/transitional measures and reduced ordinary income tax rates may limit the increase – while local SMEs pay less taxes, despite the moderate increase in dividend taxation and the increase in family allowances.

The elimination of the notional interest deduction, the further limitation of the additional deduction for R&D expenditure and a stricter maximum relief limitation rule will put greater emphasis on the reduction of the cantonal corporate income tax rates. Further, it is possible that the final version of the legislation, which needs to pass the Swiss parliament, differs from the currently proposed version and it might be feasible, that it will be (even) more favorable to businesses.

Companies are well advised to prepare in good time for the changes and identify necessary actions.

Download this article as a PDF.

Your contact partners

Dieter Wirth
Tel. +41 58 792 44 88

Armin Marti
Tel. +41 58 792 43 43

Remo Küttel
Tel: +41 58 792 68 69

Benjamin Koch
Tel: +41 58 792 43 34

Daniel Gremaud
Tel: +41 58 792 81 23

Claude-Alain Barke
Tel: +41 58 792 83 17