Swiss challenge stamp tax law
ASIP, the Swiss association of retirement institutes says it will lobby the government to overturn recent provisional legislation cancelling an exemption on stamp duties for foreign investment by Swiss banks and pension funds.
Hermann Walser, president of ASIP, says that in a December ruling, the Swiss government announced that exemption of Swiss banks from certain stamp tax when dealing through foreign banks in overseas securities would be abolished.
“This comes as a result of the new regulations of international trade in bonds and shares. The difficulty now is that if Swiss pension funds want to make a trade with a foreign bank they have to pay this stamp and make a registration of all the trades they have with this foreign banks.
“This is a new administrative burden for Swiss pension funds – that is the result of the operations of our parliament,” Walser says.
Prior to the decision Swiss banks had to pay stamp duty if they made their transactions in Switzerland but not if they did this outside of Switzerland through a foreign bank.
“Our parliament did not want this and did not want pension funds to be able to go to foreign banks and avoid the stamp taxes. Now pension funds have to pay this if they go abroad and if they work with Swiss banks they have to pay this as usual,” explains Walser.
“We are not very happy at all because this is a provisory agreement of the parliament and we will naturally try to exempt Swiss pension funds and foreign pension funds from these stamp taxes. In Switzerland we believe that this is not a good tax and we believe it is time that the tax was forgotten.”
Walser says he believes the Swiss government did not want to lose too much tax revenue, and so avoided exempting pension funds from the duty.
“ We are going to lobby the government on this, and I think the final decision could be taken at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”