Minister wants to remove tax evader ‘shield’

All together now: Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf believes Swiss tax laws need more harmony Keystone

The current distinction between tax evasion and tax fraud is unsatisfactory, according to Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, explaining why the cabinet wanted to reform the tax penal law.

This content was published on May 30, 2013 minutes and agencies

False accounting is potentially tax fraud, she told the media on Thursday, while repeatedly failing to declare income is considered tax evasion. “There is no logical difference,” she told journalists in Bern on Thursday.

Widmer-Schlumpf said the aim of the revision was an efficient tax penal law with high legal certainty that would also have a preventive effect.

“It should be worthwhile for people to be honest over their taxes,” she said.

New measures would include differentiating between simple evasion, qualified evasion (currently considered fraud) and qualified evasion of large amounts.

She pointed out that the current distinction made the work of the cantonal tax authorities more difficult, since they are not allowed to consult bank data in cases of suspected tax evasion. The federal tax authorities, however, have this right when it comes to investigating indirect taxes such as VAT.

The proposed amendment would mean that violations would be judged according to their seriousness, and the same criteria would apply to all.

The authorities would need concrete indications that an attempt had been made to defraud them before they could request data from the bank.

“In these cases banking secrecy should not be a shield for tax evaders,” she said, adding that nothing would change for the vast majority of citizens.

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