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Switzerland inches towards minimum company tax rate

Large companies like Nestlé and many foreign multinationals resident in Switzerland would be subject to a minimum corporate rate of tax. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Switzerland looks set to miss a deadline for implementing a minimum 15% rate of tax on large companies, but is planning stop-gap measures to meet agreed international standards.

This content was published on March 11, 2022 - 15:06
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According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G20, some 136 countries should have the new base rate of company taxExternal link in place for the start of next year.

But because Switzerland needs to amend its tax laws first, the minimum rate will likely be introduced a year later in the Alpine state. In January, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer had already statedExternal link that Switzerland’s system of direct democracy would likely delay changes until 2024.

Government plans

On Friday, the government outlined its timetable for imposing the 15% minimum levy on larger companies. Parliament intends to lay the legal foundations for the changes by the end of this year.

At present, there is no legal basis for charging variable sizes of company a different rate of tax. The minimum 15% tax rate would only apply to companies with at least €750 million (CHF768 million) in annual revenues.

The plan is to introduce a supplementary tax aimed specifically at large companies that pay below the 15% threshold. The government also wants the power to impose temporary tax measures on these firms until the minimum rate officially comes into force.

Once parliament has approved the deal, a further six months must then be set aside to allow for cantons and the public to have their say. A deadline of June 18, 2023, has been set for this process.

Any opponents would then have the option of launching a popular vote if they can gather enough support.

Around 2,500 companies in Switzerland are likely to be affected by the minimum rate – between 200 and 300 Swiss companies and some 2,000 to 3,000 foreign subsidiaries.

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