Global Forum: Switzerland scores well
Bern, 06.04.2020 – The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) has also rated Switzerland as largely compliant in the second round of peer reviews on the exchange of information upon request. The report was published on 6 April 2020. It noted significant improvements, in particular as regards bearer shares and the efficiency of information exchange in practice. However, it issued recommendations on a few points.
The Federal Act on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which entered into force on 1 November 2019, addresses a number of recommendations from the first round of peer reviews. In particular, bearer shares can now be issued only by listed companies or in the form of intermediated securities. Measures were also introduced with respect to bearer shares issued before the Act entered into force.
With around 100,000 requests from foreign tax authorities between 2015 and 2018, Switzerland is an important international partner in the exchange of information upon request. The Global Forum noted that Switzerland has increased its staff resources and optimised its procedures in order to deal with the growing number of requests.
In the Global Forum’s view, there is a need for improvement as regards the availability of information on beneficial owners, the rights of individuals and legal entities that are the subject of administrative assistance requests (notification and right of appeal), and confidentiality requirements.
The Global Forum uses peer reviews to assess the application of the international standard on the exchange of information upon request (administrative assistance) in individual states. The Global Forum had already rated Switzerland as largely compliant during its first round peer review in 2016, and had issued some recommendations. The second round for Switzerland began at the end of 2018 and, as with all Global Forum members, involved stricter evaluation criteria, such as the quality of administrative assistance requests, group requests and the identification of beneficial owners.
The Global Forum’s second round of peer reviews for its members began in 2016, and 69 reports have been published to date: 14 states have been rated as compliant, 46 as largely compliant, 8 as partially compliant and 1 as non-compliant. The second round is due to be completed by 2023.