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Government mulls green tax reforms

The Swiss government is looking into tax reforms to encourage “green” activities such as energy conservation and anti-pollution measures.

This content was published on December 1, 2011 - 18:52
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The hope is that such tax reforms could help reduce energy consumption and eliminate Switzerland’s dependence on nuclear energy by 2050.

As Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told the media in Bern on Thursday, the goal is not to increase tax volume. Rather, the idea is to reform the tax system without creating a tax burden on businesses or households.

Two potential systems are under consideration. One would compensate taxpayers for any ecological measures they take by reducing their taxes elsewhere. In the other model, they would receive money directly.

The government has asked the finance ministry to collaborate with the environment, transport and energy ministry to see how these systems might work and to make some recommendations by the middle of 2012.

Green parties and organisations, the centre-left Social Democrats and the centre-right Christian Democrats generally welcomed moves to reform the tax system to benefit the environment, although some found the plans too tame.

But the centre-right Radicals said the government lacked a clear energy strategy, and the right-wing People’s Party said ecotaxes would overburden energy-intensive industries.

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