See Search Box
lower down this column for searches of Finfacts news pages. Where there may be
the odd special character missing from an older page, it's a problem that
developed when Interactive Tools upgraded to a new content management system.
Finfacts is Ireland's leading business information site and
you are in its business news section.
Switzerland's cantons enjoy extensive fiscal independence which has been
actively used in recent years and has produced intense competition on taxes,
according to Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second biggest bank.
There can be substantial differences in the tax burden on private individuals
and businesses from one canton to the next. The indicators calculated by
Suisse Economic Research to compare the various cantonal tax burdens show a
picture of a divided Switzerland: intense competition and a tendency toward
lower taxes in German-speaking Switzerland compared with higher taxes but an
emerging trend toward more competition in French-speaking Switzerland. However,
there is evidence that some Swiss are tiring of foreign tax dodgers.
Sedate Switzerland has faced turbulence in recent times over tax secrecy and the
cost/benefit of servicing wealthy foreigners. The clash between the influence of
the austere religious doctrine of Frenchman John Calvin who had taken refuge in
the Alpine country, which centuries later hosted the plunder of foreign
dictators or hidden the wealth of Holocaust victims, was a far cry from the
gripes of the main character Michel, in the 1902 novel L'Immoraliste, of
renowned French writer, André Gide: "I detest these honest folk. I may have
nothing to fear from them, but I have nothing to learn from them either. And
they have nothing to say...Oh, these honest Swiss. Where do their good manners
get them?...They have no crime, no history, no literature, no art...They are
like a sturdy rosebush without thorns or flowers."
Bank secrecy was protected by law in 1934, two years after a police raid on the
Paris branch of Basler Handelsbank, which was caught 'in flagrante' facilitating tax
evasion by members of French high society, among them two bishops, several
generals, and the owners of Le Figaro and Le Matin newspapers.
Foreign firms that invest in Switzerland employ 11% of the Swiss workforce and contribute to 14% of GDP
(gross domestic product), according to
a 2012 Joint Study by the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce and the Boston
Consulting Group. The 23,524 tax-privileged companies resident in Switzerland in
2009 contributed 3.8bn francs (€3.1bn) - - around half of the total tax income from
all companies in the country, according to the finance department.
Swiss official company tax rates of about 21% compare
with 33% in France and 29% in Germany, according to
a 2012 survey by accountants KPMG; however, actual rates are usually much
Denknetz, a left of centre Swiss think-tank, estimates Switzerland's tax
regimes deprives other countries of up to 36.5 billion francs (€29.6bn;
$39 billion) in tax revenue each year
- - equivalent to double Spain's corporate tax revenues in 2011.
The European Commission has been criticising cantonal tax practices
since 2005, seeing them as illegal state aid as foreign income is taxed at a
lower rate than domestic income. It believes that these practices
are contrary to the 1972 free trade agreement between Switzerland and the
The tax levy on corporate profit in Zug is 15% for ordinary companies and
8.8% for privileged companies.
to swissinfo, from 3,900 companies offering 35,000 employments in 1975, "Zug
is today home to more than 10,000 work places with over 83,000 jobs, according
to the Office for Economic Promotion. Roughly 45% of these employers
have less than two full-time employees. Even more significant is the number
of registered corporations - - which may include pure letterbox companies - - which
amounted to about 30,000 at the end of 2010, according to the registry of
Last week, swissinfo
reported that a poll in the local newspaper Bote der Urschweiz
found that for 57% of voters in Schwyz, the population growth
generated by the region’s appeal was a “curse.” Four years earlier, 55% had termed the increase as a “blessing”.
Population growth across Switzerland has been particularly pronounced. Since
1972, central Switzerland (Schwyz, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Uri and Zug)
has seen its population grow by some 40%, according to the federal
statistics office. Only the Lake Geneva region has registered higher growth of
41.5% across cantons Vaud, Valais and Geneva.
In Zug, a canton adjacent to Zurich, - - home to commodity trader Glencore and mining
company Xstrata, they have agreed to merge - - some argue that expats are pricing locals out of the market.
Voters in June backed an initiative to increase affordable housing.
In 2013, the public budgets of Schwyz and Zug are in deficit.
In January, head of the cantonal government in Zug, Beat Villiger told the
NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, that it was time to put the brakes on growth
by placing a limit, for example, on the number of new arrivals. Villiger said
the government wanted to halve arrivals from 22,000 until 2030, to 11,000.
Check out our
subscription service, Finfacts Premium
, at a low annual charge of €25 - - if
you are a regular user of Finfacts, 50 euro cent a week is hardly a huge ask to
support the service.