Swiss Voters Split on Expat Tax Break

Voters split in Switzerland

A proposal to abolish the special tax breaks that benefit rich foreigners who place their funds in Swiss banks achieved mixed results yesterday, with the two cantons failing to agree on the future of the system.

According to the official results, which were published late last night, 33.5% of the voters in the canton of Basel-Landschaft approved the abolishment of the tax break, while those in Bern—which includes the village of Gstaad, popular location for wealthy expatriates—rejected it. Basel-Landschaft now joins three other cantons that have eradicated the tax breaks. While Bern did reject the tax break proposals, 53 per cent of voters agreed to introduce a minimum tax level of SFr400,000 ($432,000).

The proposed system will entail that foreigners living in Switzerland will be required to pay a lump tax sum that is calculated not on their earnings but according to the basis of their spending in Switzerland. While voters in the canton of Basel-Landschaft approved these measures, it was noted that very few of the expatriates residing in this area of the country currently benefit from the tax break and will therefore not be impacted if the proposals are implemented.

Swiss voters were also asked to vote on the country’s smoking laws yesterday and all 26 cantons participated in the referendum, which was aimed at improving the existing laws that govern smoking in public places. Two in three voters rejected the referendum.