Switzerland

2010 Tables

About these tables »

Information in these tables is drawn from the report Tax Co-operation 2010: Towards a Level Playing Field and is current as of June 30th 2010. Any subsequent changes in a jurisdiction's legal and regulatory framework will be reflected in the Phase 1 or Combined Peer Review Report published by the Global Forum.

Toggle description A. Agreement Statistics

Table A - Relationships providing for information exchange to the standard

Table A sets out the numbers of jurisdictions with which the jurisdiction identified in column 1 has a double tax convention (DTC) or tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) to the standard. It further distinguishes between signed DTCs and TIEAs and those in force. The reference to the standard refers to the internationally agreed tax standard, which requires exchange of information on request in all tax matters for the administration and enforcement of domestic tax law without regard to a domestic tax interest requirement or bank secrecy for tax purposes. It also provides for extensive safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.

The figures in this table are based on responses to a questionnaire which all jurisdictions were requested to complete. An in-depth analysis of these agreements has not been undertaken, and will only be completed once a jurisdiction undergoes a peer review.

Explanation of columns 2 through 7

Columns 2 and 5 show the number of DTCs that provide for information exchange upon request to the standard, with other jurisdictions. They include both multilateral and bilateral agreements, for example the CARICOM agreements. Multilateral agreements are counted as a series of bilateral agreements.

Columns 3 and 6 show the number of TIEAs that provide for information exchange upon request to the standard, with other jurisdictions. They include both multilateral and bilateral agreements, for example the joint Council of Europe/OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, or the Nordic Convention on Mutual Assistance.

Where more than one type of relationship is in place (e.g. the relevant jurisdiction have concluded both a DTC and a TIEA), only one of these agreements is counted. Thus, Table A measures the number of relationships rather than the number of agreements.

Note that some jurisdictions have mechanisms in their domestic law which provide for the exchange of information for tax purposes, and these mechanisms are not included in the table. For example, domestic laws giving effect to the EU Mutual Assistance Directive (Council Directive 77/799/EEC of 19 December 1977).

DTCs signed to the standard 16
TIEAs signed to the standard 0
Total signed DTCs and TIEAs to the standard 16
DTCs in force to the standard 0
TIEAs in force to the standard 0
Total in force DTCs and TIEAs to the standard 0

Toggle description B.1. Bank Secrecy

Table B.1 - Bank secrecy

Table B.1 shows the basis for bank secrecy for all of the jurisdictions reviewed.

Explanation of columns 2 through 4

Column 2 shows whether the basis for bank secrecy arises purely out of the relationship between the bank and its customer (e.g. contract, privacy, common law).

Column 3 shows whether bank secrecy is reinforced by statute.

Column 4 shows, where bank secrecy is reinforced by statute, whether the statutory provisions are limited to particular customers or market segments. Note that in some jurisdictions there are separate laws providing for secrecy in domestic and international banking business. The entry in column 4 in these cases is "No" provided the level of banking confidentiality is similar.

Purely Law Reinforced Limited
No Yes No

Toggle description B.2. Access to bank information for EOI purposes

Table B.2 - Access to bank information for EOI purposes

Table B.2 shows the extent to which a jurisdiction has access to bank information for exchange of information purposes.

Explanation of columns 2 through 7

Column 2 shows to what extent the jurisdiction has access to bank information for exchange of information purposes in all tax matters.

Column 3 shows which jurisdictions have access in all tax matters only if information is also relevant for domestic tax purposes (domestic tax interest).

Column 4 and 5 shows which jurisdictions can have access to bank information only in criminal tax matters, and the standard these jurisdictions use to determine what is a "criminal tax matter".

Column 6 shows which jurisdictions have no access to bank information for any tax information exchange purposes.

Column 7 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

All Tax Domestic Criminal Criminal Tax Determination Inability obtain bank info Notes
No No* Yes The term tax fraud means fraudulent conduct which is deemed to be an offence under the laws of both states, and is punishable by imprisonment. No *In general principle there is no access to bank information in civil tax matters under domestic law. However pursuant to a change in policy in March 2009, Switzerland will, upon request, and on the basis of a double taxation agreement in force which includes an exchange of information provision in accordance with article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention, exchange information in criminal and civil tax matters. A special provision will be included in Switzerland's double taxation agreements to empower the tax administration to obtain from banks and other financial institutions the information which is necessary for the purpose of the exchange of information.

Toggle description B.3. Procedures to obtain bank information for EOI purpose

Table B.3 - Procedures to obtain bank information for EOI purposes

Table B.3 the procedures for each jurisdiction to obtain bank information for exchange of information purposes.

Explanation of columns 2 through 4

Column 2 shows whether the jurisdiction's competent authority has the power to obtain bank information directly, or if separate authorisation is required.

Column 3 indicates whether the jurisdiction has measures in place to compel the production of information if a bank refuses to provide information to the jurisdiction's authorities.

Column 4 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Direct Access Compelling Measures Notes
Yes* Yes *The procedures and competences differ depending on whether bank information is provided pursuant to a DTC (competence: Federal Tax Administration) or pursuant to the mutual assistance law or treaties (competence: cantonal judicial authorities/ Federal Office of Justice).

Toggle description C.1. Information gathering powers

Table C.1 - Information gathering powers

This table gives an overview of the information-gathering powers available to the authorities in each jurisdiction to obtain information in response to a request for exchange of information for tax purposes.

Explanation of columns 2 through 6

Column 2 shows whether a jurisdiction has powers to obtain information required to be kept by a person subject to record keeping obligations (e.g. as a taxpayer). The column is divided into two sub-columns that show whether a jurisdiction can obtain information in connection with a request for information in civil and criminal tax matters respectively.

Column 3 shows whether a jurisdiction has powers to obtain information from persons not required to keep such information. The column is divided into two sub-columns that show whether jurisdictions can obtain information in connection with a request for information in civil and criminal tax matters respectively.

Column 4 indicates if powers may only be used if the jurisdiction has an interest in the information for its own tax purposes (domestic tax interest).

Column 5 indicates whether a jurisdiction has measures in place to compel production of information.

Column 6 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Req Civil Req Criminal Not Req Civil Not Req Criminal Only Domestic Compelling Measures Notes
Yes* Yes No Yes No Yes

Toggle description C.2. Statutory confidentiality or secrecy provisions

Table C.2 - Statutory confidentiality or secrecy provisions

Table C.2 shows whether each jurisdiction has specific confidentiality or secrecy provisions relating to the disclosure of ownership, identity or accounting information. Where such provisions exist, the table notes whether the provisions are of a general or a specific nature and whether they are overridden if a request is made pursuant to an "EOI arrangement." An "EOI arrangement" includes any mechanism that permits information exchange for tax purposes with another jurisdiction (e.g. a DTC, MLAT, domestic law on mutual assistance in criminal matters).

Explanation of columns 2 through 6

Column 2 indicates whether a jurisdiction has statutory confidentiality or secrecy provisions applicable to ownership, identity and accounting information.

Column 3 indicates, if the answer in column 2 is yes, whether those provisions apply generally in the country or are limited to specific entities (e.g. foundations) or sectors (e.g. banking or insurance).

Column 4 indicates whether the statutory confidentiality or secrecy provisions can be overridden if a request for information is made pursuant to an exchange of information arrangement.

Column 5 briefly outlines, where the answer in column 4 is yes, in what circumstances the secrecy or confidentiality provisions may be overridden.

Prohibiting Disclosure Type EOI Overrides Notes
Yes General application. Yes* *Professional secrecy rules may be overridden for a request relating to tax fraud, in the case of certain EOI arrangements (and also the Swiss and EU savings agreement, the Tax Fraud Agreement in the area of indirect taxes) and for a request relating to both criminal and civil matters on the basis of a double taxation agreement in force which includes an exchange of information provision in accordance with article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention.

Toggle description C.3. Bearer securities

Table C.3 - Bearer securities

Table C.3 shows whether a jurisdiction permits the issuance of bearer shares and bearer debt, and the mechanisms adopted to identify owners of bearer shares and bearer debt.

Explanation of columns 2 through 6

Column 2 shows whether a jurisdiction permits the issuance of bearer shares.

Column 3 outlines, where applicable, the measures adopted to identify owners of bearer shares.

Column 4 shows whether a jurisdiction permits the issuance of bearer debt.

Column 5 outlines, where applicable, the measures adopted to identify owners of bearer debt. The measures listed include both specific mechanisms, such as immobilisation procedures, ensuring that the owner is known in all cases as well as applicable anti-money laundering rules imposing a requirement on service providers in the financial sector to perform customer due diligence.

Column 6 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Shares Issued Shares Mechanisms Debt Issued Debt Mechanisms Notes
Yes Owners of bearer shares must be disclosed to Swiss tax authorities if they apply for a refund or reduction of Swiss withholding tax. In connection with companies listed on a Swiss stock exchange, any holding of voting rights of 3% or more must be disclosed to the company and the stock exchange. Pursuant to Swiss anti-money laundering law, the bodies, resident in Switzerland, of domiciliary companies (Sitzgesellschaft/sociétés de domicile) are considered to be financial intermediaries and are therefore under the obligation to identify the beneficial owners. Yes In case of interest paid by banks on bearer debt, the withholding tax gives the possibility to identify the owner if he requests a refund or reduction of Swiss withholding tax. See also endnote 1.

Toggle description D.1. Ownership information: Companies

Table D.1 - Ownership information: companies

Table D.1 shows the type of ownership information required to be held by governmental authorities, at the company level and by service providers, including banks, corporate service providers and other persons.

Explanation of columns 2 through 5

Column 2 shows the type of ownership information required to be held by governmental authorities. The term "governmental authority" includes corporate registries, regulatory authorities, tax authorities and authorities to which publicly traded companies report.

Column 3 shows the type of ownership information required to be held at the company level. Ownership information required to be kept at the company level would normally be held in a shareholder register.

Column 4 shows the type of ownership information required to be held by service providers, including banks, corporate service providers and other persons. The requirement on service providers managing or providing services to a company to keep identity information typically arises under either specific laws regulating the corporate service provider business or under applicable anti-money laundering laws or under both.

Column 5 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Note that the table makes a distinction between requirements to report or keep legal and beneficial ownership. Legal ownership refers to the registered owner of the share, which may be an individual, but also a nominee, a trust or a company, etc. Beneficial ownership reporting requirements refers to a range of reporting requirements that require further information when the legal owner is not also the beneficial owner.

Where a company may issue bearer shares, thereby limiting the requirement to report or keep ownership information, this is mentioned in the table.

Company Type Government Authority Company Service Provider Special Rules
Company limited by shares Legal ownership (changes need not be reported).* Legal ownership for other than bearer shares (unless the bearer share holder is a founding shareholder).* Pursuant to Swiss anti-money laundering law, the bodies, resident in Switzerland, of domiciliary companies (Sitzgesellschaft/sociétés de domicile) are considered to be financial intermediaries and are therefore under the obligation to identify the beneficial owners. In other cases (i.e. companies other than domiciliary companies) anti-money laundering law may still require service providers to identify and record beneficial ownership (i.e. Swiss bank opens a bank account for a company). *In connection with companies listed on a Swiss stock exchange, any holding of voting rights of 3% or more must be disclosed to the company and the stock exchange.
Limited liability company Legal ownership.* Legal ownership.* Pursuant to Swiss anti-money laundering law, the bodies, resident in Switzerland, of domiciliary companies (Sitzgesellschaft/sociétés de domicile) are considered to be financial intermediaries and are therefore under the obligation to identify the beneficial owners. In other cases (i.e. companies other than domiciliary companies) anti-money laundering law may still require service providers to identify and record beneficial ownership (i.e. Swiss bank opens a bank account for a company). *In connection with companies listed on a Swiss stock exchange, any holding of voting rights of 3% or more must be disclosed to the company and the stock exchange.

Toggle description D.2. Trust laws

Table D.2 - Trusts laws

Table D.2 gives information on trust laws for each jurisdiction.

Explanation of columns 2 through 4

Column 2 indicates the jurisdictions that have domestic trust laws.

Column 3 lists whether jurisdictions that have separate domestic trust laws that apply only to non-resident settlors and beneficiaries.

Column 4 indicates the jurisdictions without trust laws that allow their residents to act as trustees of foreign trusts.

Domestic Special Residents Notes
No N/A Yes

Toggle description D.3. Identity information: Trusts

Table D.3 - Identity information: Trusts

Table D.3 shows the type of identity information required to be held for trusts by governmental authorities, resident trustee of a domestic trust, resident trustee of a foreign trust and service providers, including banks, trust service providers and other persons.

Explanation of columns 2 through 6

Column 2 shows the type of identity information (settlors and beneficiaries) required to be held by governmental authorities. The term "governmental authority" includes trust registries, regulatory authorities and tax authorities.

Column 3 and 4 show the type of identity information (settlors and beneficiaries) required to be held by the resident trustee of a domestic trust, or the resident trustee of a foreign trust. These columns refer to trustees providing trustee services on a non-commercialbasis. Requirements on such resident trustees to keep identity information would normally arise under either applicable trust law or under anti-money laundering legislation covering trustees generally.

Column 5 shows the type of identity information (settlors and beneficiaries) required to be held by service providers, including banks, trust service providers and other persons. The requirement on professional service providers to keep identity information typically arises under either specific laws regulating the business of managing trusts or under applicable anti-money laundering laws or under both.

Column 6 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Government Authority Trustee Domestic Trust Trustee Foreign Trust Service Provider Other Notes
N/A N/A

Toggle description D.4. Identity information: Partnerships

Table D.4 - Identity information: Partnerships

Table D.4 shows the type of identity information required to be held for partnerships by governmental authorities, at the partnership level and by service providers, including banks, corporate service providers and other persons.

Explanation of columns 2 through 5

Column 2 shows the type of identity information required to be held by governmental authorities. The term "governmental authority" includes registries, regulatory authorities and tax authorities.

Column 3 shows the type of identity information required to be held at the partnership level.

Column 4 shows the type of identity information required to be held by service providers, including banks, corporate service providers and other persons. The requirement on service providers managing or providing services to a partnership to keep identity information typically arises under either specific laws regulating the service provider business or under applicable anti-money laundering laws or under both.

Column 5 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Type Government Authority Partnerships Service Provider Other Notes
Yes Yes Where service providers establish a contractual relationship with the partnership and perform a covered activity, anti-money laundering law requires the identification of beneficial owners (e.g. bank opening a bank account for a partnership).

Toggle description D.5. Identity information: Foundations

Table D.5 - Identity information: Foundations

Table D.5 shows the type of identity information (founders, beneficiaries and members of foundation council) required to be held for foundations by governmental authorities, at the foundation level and by service providers, including banks, corporate service providers and other persons.

Explanation of columns 2 through 5

Column 2 shows the type of identity information required to be held by governmental authorities. The term "governmental authority" includes foundation registries, regulatory authorities and tax authorities.

Column 3 shows the type of identity information required to be held at the foundation level.

Column 4 shows the type of identity information required to be held by service providers, including banks, corporate service providers and other persons. The requirement on service providers managing or providing services to a foundation to keep identity information typically arises under either specific laws regulating the corporate service provider business or under applicable anti-money laundering laws or under both.

Column 5 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Government Authority Foundation Members foundation Council Service Provider Other Notes

Toggle description D.6. Accounting information: Companies

Table D.6 - Accounting information: Companies

This table shows for each jurisdiction the legal requirements relating to the nature of the accounting records that must be created and retained, specific requirements with respect to their auditing and lodgement with a governmental authority and the rules regarding the retention of the records.

Explanation of columns 2 through 7

Column 2 shows whether there is a specific requirement to keep accounting records. Where company directors have discretion as to the nature and extent of the accounting records that must be kept this has been categorised as not having a requirement to keep accounting records.

Column 3 shows the extent to which jurisdictions require accounting records to meet the standards as set out in the JAHGA paper, "Enabling Effective Exchange of Information: Availability Standard and Reliability Standard" (see Annex III of the Report). In this column the following code has been used:

  • a for "correctly explain the company's transactions",
  • b for "enable the company's position to be determined with reasonable accuracy at any time",
  • c for "allow financial statements to be prepared" and
  • d for "include underlying documentation such as invoices, contracts, etc".

Column 4 shows whether jurisdictions require the preparation of financial statements.

Column 5 shows whether a requirement exists to file financial statements with a governmental authority and/or to file a tax return.

Column 6 indicates whether jurisdictions have a requirement that financial statements be audited.

Column 7 sets out the applicable retention period for accounting information.

Type Requirement keep records Records meet a, b, c, d Requirement prepare financial statement Requirement file financial statements or tax return Requirement financial statements audited Retention period for financial statements
Yes Yes: a, c & d Yes Yes Yes for companies limited by shares 10 years

Toggle description D.7. Accounting information: Trusts

Table D.7 - Accounting information: Trusts

Table D.7 shows the requirements for trusts to keep accounting records.

Explanation of columns 2 through 7

Column 2 shows whether jurisdictions have a domestic trust law requirement to keep accounting records.

Column 3 sets out the type of records that are required to be kept pursuant to domestic trust laws.

Column 4 and 5 examine requirements to keep accounting records pursuant to other laws (such as taxation or anti-money laundering requirements).

Column 6 records the relevant retention period.

Column 7 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Type Requirement keep records by domestic trust law type records kept under domestic trust law Requirement for resident trustee Accounting records required by other law Retention period for financial statements Notes

Toggle description D.8. Accounting information: Partnerships

Table D.8 - Accounting information: Partnerships

Table D.8 shows the requirements for partnerships to keep accounting records.

Explanation of columns 2 through 5

Column 2 sets out whether there is a requirement to keep accounting records.

Column 3 sets out the type of accounting records required to be kept.

Column 4 sets out the period of time such records must be retained.

Column 5 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Type Requirement keep records by domestic partnership law type records kept under domestic partnership law Retention period for financial statements Notes
Yes Commercial Law: “Accounts required by the nature of its business in order to clearly state its financial situation.” Tax Law: “An account of the takings, a statement of assets and debts, as well as an account of the expenditures and a statement of their personal investments.” 10 years

Toggle description D.9. Accounting information: Foundations

Table D.9 - Accounting information: Foundations

Table D.9 shows the requirements for foundations to keep accounting records.

Explanation of columns 2 through 5

Column 2 sets out whether there is a requirement to keep accounting records.

Column 3 sets out the type of accounting records required to be kept.

Column 4 sets out the period of time such records must be retained.

Column 5 provides any additional and explanatory comments.

Type Requirement keep records by domestic foundation law type records kept under domestic foundation law Retention period for accounting statements Notes
Yes Audited accounting records following the same requirements provided for companies; 10 years for foundations engaged in commercial activities. In some exceptional cases, small Foundations can be exonerated from the obligation of Audit