Federal Council adopts dispatch on amending Tax Administrative Assistance Act
Bern, 10.06.2016 - During its meeting today, the Federal Council acknowledged the results of the consultation procedure and adopted the dispatch on amending the Tax Administrative Assistance Act for the attention of Parliament. Swiss practices with regard to stolen data are to be eased. It should become possible to respond to requests if a foreign country obtained the stolen data via normal administrative assistance channels or from public sources. However, administrative assistance is still not possible if a country actively acquired the stolen data outside of administrative assistance proceedings.
The Federal Council had previously proposed easing administrative assistance practices in the case of stolen data in 2013 with the first revision of the Tax Administrative Assistance Act. However, the majority of the cantons, parties and business associations rejected the proposal in the consultation on that occasion. Since then, international practice has established that exceptions to the exchange of information will be tolerated only on a very restricted basis. For instance, the exchange of information could be refused if it is incompatible with public policy, such as in the case of requests motivated by racist, political or religious persecution.
Swiss practices were thus increasingly being called into question by numerous countries and by the Global Forum. With the proposed legislative amendment, the Federal Council is clarifying the legal situation and taking account of both international requirements and the Global Forum's recommendations with regard to administrative assistance in tax matters.
Therefore, although Switzerland will continue to reject administrative assistance requests based on stolen data actively acquired by the requesting state outside of administrative assistance proceedings, it intends to respond to future requests that are based on data obtained by the requesting state from another state through normal administrative assistance channels or from public sources.
The consultation revealed that the cantons are virtually all rallying behind the proposal, while the numbers of advocates and opponents in the political parties and organisations appear broadly balanced. The Federal Council is adhering to the proposal in view of this outcome, as it believes that the proposal is necessary to safeguard Switzerland's interests.
The report on the results of the consultation and the position statements are available in French, German and Italian at www.admin.ch > Federal law > Consultations > Completed consultations > 2015 > FDF. The bill is due to be discussed by Parliament in 2016.
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