In economic life, debt waivers involving associated companies take on central significance in the context of a restructuring. It can be assumed that restructuring will greatly increase in the near future due to the financial difficulties of many companies resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. Although the tax treatment of a debt waiver granted by an independent third party is essentially well defined (ie, it is recognised in income), many questions will arise if debt is waived by a related party – namely, a shareholder.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of tax return deadlines have been extended for legal entities; however, numerous questions concerning corporate tax requirements for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and contentious legal proceedings in tax matters remain. This article examines some of the most salient questions in this regard.
Data protection laws continue to apply as they did prior to the COVID-19 crisis. However, the Swiss data protection authority, the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, will be aware of the particular challenges and constraints that employers face at present. This article provides an overview of some of the data protection issues that employers face.
Foreign companies can now take advantage of a tax-neutral step-up of built-in gains (including self-created goodwill) to fair market value for Swiss direct tax purposes when relocating their legal seat, effective place of management or assets, business units and functions to Switzerland from overseas. The disclosed built-in gains may be depreciated tax-effectively over a specified time period, allowing the Swiss company or branch to reduce its tax burden significantly during the respective timeframe.
The Federal Department of Home Affairs recently decided that two new autologous cell therapies (CAR-T therapies) for the treatment of blood and lymph gland cancer will in future be covered by compulsory healthcare insurance. Further, preventive investigations of colorectal cancer will be exempted from the franchise in the Cantons of Fribourg and Basel-Stadt. In addition to these changes, a number of other adaptations have been made to the Healthcare Benefits Ordinance and its annexes.
The Lausanne University Centre for General Medicine and Public Health, in close cooperation with the Swiss Biobanking Platform, recently commenced the pilot phase of the so-called 'Swiss health study', which aims to determine which chemicals accumulate in the human body. The pilot phase is supported by the Federal Office of Public Health.
The popular nursing care initiative 'For Strong Nursing Care' is calling for more nursing staff and quality safeguarding in nursing care. The Swiss parliamentary Commission for Social Security and Health recently presented an indirect counterproposal to this popular initiative. The counterproposal adopts a number of the initiative's important demands and aims to counter the nursing staff shortage and increase nursing staff skills with an educational campaign.
From a Swiss legal perspective, in order to ascertain the enforceability of an assignment against a debtor of receivables, the assignment of a receivable must be subject to the law governing the receivables. Further, in order to safeguard the validity of a Swiss law-governed assignment of receivables under a formalities perspective, care must be taken that a wet-ink original of each declaration of assignment is made available to the assignee.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development recently released a statement update on a new international framework to allocate part of the profits of multinational enterprises with a substantial digital business footprint in countries in which they have a large user base, but no physical presence. Switzerland has stated that it will maintain its support for the development of a multilateral solution for taxing the digital economy to avoid unilateral actions that jeopardise growth and innovation.
On 1 January 2020 the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority implemented various revised rules primarily targeting small banks (the so-called 'small banks regime'). Among other aspects, this will result in a relaxation of IT outsourcing requirements for financial institutions. The amendments are positive and a step in the right direction, as they will allow financial institutions to enjoy more leeway to benefit from IT outsourcing services.
While many countries have introduced far-reaching obligations to report cyber incidents, Switzerland has not yet followed this lead. However, the Federal Council recently adopted a report which considers key issues with regard to the introduction of a general reporting obligation for operators of critical infrastructure. The report also discusses possible implementation models.
The Federal Council recently adopted a dispatch message to improve the legal framework governing distributed ledger technologies (DLT) in Switzerland. The Federal Council's objective is to increase legal certainty, remove obstacles to DLT-based applications and limit the risk of abuse. The Swiss parliament will examine the dispatch message in early 2020.
The Federal Administrative Court recently annulled a Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) order that had limited the price increase of a medicinal product on the list of specialities to two years. The FOPH had permitted a temporary (ie, two-year) price increase of 20%; however, the Federal Administrative Court upheld the manufacturer's argument that such time limits may be imposed only for comprehensible and appropriate reasons, which the FOPH could not convincingly provide.
The Federal Supreme Court recently dismissed an appeal against a Zurich Social Insurance Court decision concerning the replacement of an appellant's breast implant under compulsory health insurance. According to the Federal Supreme Court, a gynaecologist's reasoning that the appellant's pain was most likely caused by the implant was incomprehensible and therefore the Zurich Social Insurance Court's decision was not arbitrary.
The Federal Council recently submitted to Parliament a dispatch approving the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs. The Federal Council supports the convention, which aims to harmonise criminal provisions internationally. In particular, the convention provides for the prosecution of all human organ trafficking, regardless of where it takes place.
In recent years, the number of publicly placed and listed securitisation transactions in the car leasing and credit card sectors has increased significantly. The driving force behind this development is economic rather than legislative, as Swiss law places no specific restrictions on asset classes eligible for securitisation. However, compliance with certain Swiss legal concepts is crucial when setting up a securitisation transaction involving Swiss law-governed receivables.
The Federal Council recently adopted new measures to combat rising costs in the public healthcare sector. With this first set of measures, the Federal Council intends to provide all stakeholders with the instruments needed to reduce costs and expects to save several hundred million Swiss francs annually.
The Federal Council recently approved a draft of the Social Security and Health Commission of the Council of States in order to improve the legal basis for the transfer of data of insured persons. The Federal Council intends to collect personal data from insured persons while guaranteeing the protection of personal data and upholding the principle of proportionality.
In view of the media industry's ostensibly democratic and political role, the Federal Council has decided to adopt effective and feasible support measures. These measures will be implemented by adapting existing laws and incorporating online media into the scope of the Federal Act on Radio and Television. However, the plan to create a new Electronic Media Act has been abandoned.
The Federal Supreme Court recently clarified that although certain provisions of the Health Insurance Act and the Health Insurance Ordinance are based on patent protection (or expiration), the Health Insurance Ordinance sets out no pricing rules for generics if the original's exclusivity is only partially lost. Further, protected indications of a multi-indication pharmaceutical, of which some indications have lost exclusivity, cannot be exchanged by a generic.