Withholding tax agreement: Switzerland transfers upfront payment to United Kingdom

Bern, 30.01.2013 - Last week, the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) transferred CHF 500 million to the United Kingdom. Switzerland thereby fulfilled an obligation which is set out in the bilateral withholding tax agreement. The upfront payment guarantees the United Kingdom a minimum amount from as yet untaxed assets of UK taxpayers in Switzerland.

Based on the agreement with the United Kingdom, which entered into force on 1 January 2013, Swiss banks paid CHF 500 million to the FTA. The FTA has now transferred this amount to the United Kingdom as security for minimum tax revenues from anonymous retrospective taxation.

The reimbursement of this upfront payment to Swiss banks will start as soon as CHF 800 million from retrospective taxation has been transferred to the UK tax authorities. Once the system of regularisation of the past has generated CHF 1.3 billion, then the upfront payment to Swiss banks will be fully reimbursed. Further payments from the regularisation of the past will in turn be transferred to the UK tax authorities. The withholding tax agreement with Austria which likewise entered into force on 1 January 2013 makes no provision for an upfront payment.

All UK and Austrian taxpayers with a bank account or securities deposit in Switzerland are affected by the agreements. Clients either pay a withholding tax which is deducted directly from their account and transferred anonymously to their country of domicile, or they must disclose their account details. The agreements solve the problem of untaxed funds in that foreign tax authorities receive the tax payments they are legally entitled to whilst the privacy of bank clients is safeguarded. Withholding tax agreements are part of the Federal Council's new financial market policy. Negotiations on agreements with other countries are under way.  

Address for enquiries

Anne Césard, SIF Communications
+41 31 322 62 91, anne.cesard@sif.admin.ch

Beat Furrer, FTA communications
+41 31 324 91 29, beat.furrer@estv.admin.ch


State Secretariat for International Financial Matters

Federal Department of Finance