Swiss oppose FATCA-agreement and prepare a national referendum

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Following the ratification of the FATCA agreement by the federal Parliament, a nation wide referendum committee was set up to prepare a vote by the Swiss people who should have the final word on the application of FATCA in the country. The committee criticises that the Swiss parliament complied with the US government’s will to impose its domestic tax laws also upon Switzerland.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) forces foreign financial institutions and governments to collect data on US nationals and certain groups of Swiss citizens and to transmit it to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes. It enables US authorities to impose regulatory costs, and potentially penalties, on foreign financial institutions who otherwise have few if any dealings with the United States. With FATCA, Swiss banks would become practically extensions of the IRS and its application would jeopardize also Swiss citizens’ privacy rights since the data collected under the agreement will be available to a variety of US agencies.

Whereas the US government pretends to have designed FATCA to combat offshore tax evasion and increase federal tax revenues, it continues tolerating its own onshore tax refuges in States like Delaware. This attitude is a clear sign of protectionism and a reminder of the supposedly long gone period of US imperialism. Accepting FATCA will set a precedent for other foreign legislation, notably originating from the European Union who is likely to take advantage of the caving in by the Swiss government.

The Swiss parliament ratified the agreement in September, without having had the courage to withstand the pressure of the US government to not only impose FATCA upon Switzerland but to automatically accept any future modification of the law. This breach of sovereignty led a group of politicians, joined by several organisations of the civil society to decide setting up a committee to prepare a referendum. By mid-January the committee needs to have collected 50’000 signatures from eligible voters so that the Swiss people can vote on the matter in the course of the first half of 2014.

The referendum committee expects the referendum sending out an important signal to the other countries whom the US pressures to implement the FATCA agreement.

For more Information:

Mr Lukas Reimann, Member of Federal Parliament, post@lukas-reimann.ch

Mr. Erwin Böhi, Member of Cantonal Parliament, mail@erwinboehi.ch

 

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