Swiss moot new fiscal measures to defuse EU pressure over tax evasion

A new report says that Switzerland could meet the European Union half way over tax evasion demands without compromising banking secrecy. However, the proposed system could be expensive to implement and its consequences for Swiss banking are uncertain.

This content was published on February 28, 2001

Experts have proposed a new tax on the interest accrued on foreign assets held in Swiss bank accounts. This would mean that any EU national holding an account in Switzerland would have to pay tax on the interest generated by their assets.

The money generated by this new tax would be kept in a Swiss holding account on behalf of the EU.

The concept was presented to the Swiss government on Wednesday following a feasibility study commissioned by the Finance Ministry.

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, said the report's findings were not politically binding. He said the government was not willing to commit itself to a solution until the agenda for future bilateral talks with Brussels had been agreed.

The EU has repeatedly called on Switzerland to crack down on tax evasion by loosening account secrecy, a hallmark of Swiss banking. This would mean that other EU countries could trace and tax their citizens who have Swiss accounts.

The Swiss government had consistently said that there can be no question of raising banking secrecy, or the automatic exchange of information.

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