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.
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 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.
The Federal Council recently announced its intentions to resume the temporarily suspended Swiss withholding tax reform and set out the general framework to introduce a paying agent tax system with regard to interest payments. However, as the Federal Council's communication did not contain any details, it remains to be seen how the reform will be set out in the draft bill expected in Autumn 2019 and how it will affect paying agents and investors.
Swiss voters recently approved a new corporate tax reform, which will set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate taxation and secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location. The reform includes a patent box, an R&D super deduction and a notional interest deduction for high-tax cantons. There are also substantial non-tax (revenue-raising) measures and new provisions on social security contributions.
The Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently relaxed its practice under which bonds that are issued by foreign resident issuers, but guaranteed by their Swiss resident parent company, are requalified as domestic issuances which trigger Swiss withholding tax on interest payments. The revised rules significantly increase the permissible use of proceeds in Switzerland.
The Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently published the 2019 safe haven interest rates to be used on intra-group loans. Against this backdrop, this article provides an overview of the relevant Swiss tax rules associated with determining whether intra-group financing constitutes equity or debt for tax purposes and the consequences of each characterisation.
In the context of the bill on the Federal Act on Tax Reform and AHV Financing, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently announced that, as of 1 January 2019, it will abstain from granting rulings which safeguard the tax privileges of new principal companies and finance branches. Existing rulings for these regimes will no longer be valid after 1 January 2020 as part of the overall Swiss tax reform.
The Swiss Parliament has approved the revised version of Tax Proposal 17, a proposal for corporate tax reform. The new proposal aims to set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate tax (the last proposal having been rejected in a nationwide referendum) and secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location.
The Council of States recently issued a revised version of Tax Proposal 17, a proposal for corporate tax reform. The new proposal is based on the government's March 2017 proposal and aims to set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate tax (the last proposal having been rejected in a nationwide referendum in February 2017) and secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location. Under the proposal, Switzerland will repeal the existing special corporate tax regimes.
Switzerland and Brazil recently signed a double taxation agreement, which is a major achievement for both countries and has been a long-standing demand of the private sector. The new agreement will significantly increase Switzerland's attractiveness for Latin American investments and provide investors with legal certainty in tax matters.
The government has adopted Tax Proposal 17, a new proposal for corporate tax reform. The purpose of this new proposal is to set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate taxation and to secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location. Under Tax Proposal 17, Switzerland will repeal the existing special corporate tax regimes. As opposed to the proposal that was rejected in February 2017, the current proposal appears to have attracted wider political support.
Switzerland has become a major hub for initial coin offerings (ICOs). Yet to date, there has been little clarity about the resulting tax implications. Recent discussions and tax ruling negotiations with representatives of several tax authorities in Switzerland have provided more clarity on the tax implications of ICOs, at least regarding tokens issued by Swiss companies raising funds under the promise of a participation in future revenues.
The government recently published a new detailed draft for a corporate tax reform. The purpose of this new draft is to set the basis for new rules on corporate tax (the last proposal having been rejected in a nationwide referendum) and to secure Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location. The draft includes several measures that have been discussed in the past, but it also addresses the criticism that contributed to the rejection in the February referendum.
Parliament has passed the Value Added Tax Act Reform Bill. Barring a referendum, this new legislation will completely replace the existing legislation and will introduce significant changes in key areas; businesses will have only a few months to prepare for the transition.
Rates of corporate income tax in Switzerland are low compared to those of some other European countries, making the jurisdiction an attractive location for multinational companies. The European Commission has recently formally challenged the cantonal corporate tax regimes, holding that they are in violation of Article 23 of the 1972 Free Trade Agreement between the European Economic Community and Switzerland.
In June 2006 a new federal law was passed governing the taxation, at both federal and cantonal level, of an indirect partial liquidation involving the sale of participations equal to 20% or more of the nominal share capital of the relevant company, and limiting the restricted period to a maximum of five years. The new law significantly improves the tax position of the seller and the purchaser.
Revisions to the Federal Stamp Duty Act entered into force on January 1 2006. Among other things, foreign resident corporations with shares listed on a recognized stock exchange and their foreign resident affiliates are exempt from the Swiss transfer stamp duty triggered on sales or purchases of taxable securities from a Swiss securities dealer or intermediated by a Swiss securities dealer.
The section on foundations of the Swiss Civil Code has been revised to take into account the importance of charities and not-for-profit institutions in Switzerland, as well as the corporate governance issues associated with their increasing importance and the value of the assets they manage. Some of these amendments also have an impact on the tax situation of the founders and donors.