This is an automatic translation, which is why errors may occur
20.026 Code of Civil Procedure. Amendment
As the Councils were still unable to resolve all differences after the third round of deliberations, the matter had to go to the conciliation conference. The conference submitted a proposal to both chambers of parliament to resolve all remaining differences. This motion was finally adopted unanimously by both chambers last Wednesday. In today’s final votes, the bill was also approved unanimously in the National Council by 139 votes to 53 with 2 abstentions and in the Council of States. Subject to a possible referendum, the amendments could therefore enter into force as early as January 1, 2025, according to current estimates.
In this bill, it is significant and very welcome that Parliament has for the first time spoken out in favor of a provision on the protection of professional secrecy for in-house lawyers in civil proceedings and has thus taken a step in the right direction. In particular, a lack of secrecy protection for in-house counsel makes our companies vulnerable to international attack. It should also be noted that many other and more and more countries also provide for professional secrecy protection for in-house counsel.
22.050 Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FinfraG). Amendment (Recognition of foreign trading venues for trading in equity securities of companies domiciled in Switzerland)
After the Council of States had already unanimously approved the transfer of the stock exchange protection measure into ordinary law during the winter session 2022, which was welcomed by SwissHoldings, the National Council now also unanimously followed this decision in the first week of the session.
The proposed protective measure will help ensure that EU securities firms can continue to trade Swiss shares on Swiss trading venues, thereby preserving the functioning of the Swiss capital market. The transfer of the temporary stock exchange protection measure into ordinary law became necessary because it would otherwise have expired without replacement. The measure will now be anchored in the Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FMIA).
In today’s final votes, the bill was also unanimously approved by both chambers of parliament.
Council of States
21.019 Partial revision of the Value Added Tax Act
In the first week of the session, the Council of States dealt with the revision of the VAT Act. The focus here is on the newly envisaged collection of VAT by mail order platforms. After this point was already undisputed in the National Council during the winter session 2022, the small chamber now also followed without opposition and decided that foreign online mail order companies must pay VAT on their Swiss sales in the future.
In addition, following the National Council, the Council of States also approved various new exceptions and special regulations: for example, tampons and sanitary towels will now be taxed at a reduced rate. In the case of plant protection products, the reduced rate is to be applied only if they are particularly environmentally friendly. SwissHoldings is fundamentally critical of these and other new exemptions.
In contrast to the National Council, the Council of States wants to exempt services provided by travel agencies – whether domestic or foreign – from VAT. On this point, it followed without opposition the preliminary consultative committee, which wants to prevent new unequal treatment in this way.
In the overall vote, the Council of States adopted the bill unanimously, by 35 votes to 0. As there are still differences with the National Council, the debate is likely to be continued in the coming summer session.
During the Council debate in the Council of States, weighty cross-party voices were raised calling for a “liberation blow”, i.e. a total revision of the VAT Act. Against this background, it is possible that the current bill is not yet in the clear in view of the upcoming final votes.
22.077 Double taxation. Agreement with Tajikistan
The DTA amendment protocol with Tajikistan contains a new abuse clause that focuses on the main purpose of an arrangement or transaction and thus ensures that the DTA is not abused. In addition, the protocol includes an administrative assistance clause in accordance with international standards on the exchange of information upon request.
Furthermore, the DTA amendment implements the minimum standards from the BEPS project in matters of double taxation agreements (spontaneous exchange of information).
The Council of States unanimously approved these amendments during the first week of the session. The bill now goes to the National Council, where it is also expected to be uncontroversial by a majority.
22.4452 Po. Gmür-Schönenberger. Ensuring a functioning resource equalization within Switzerland as a consequence of the OECD minimum tax
The Council of States instructed the Federal Council without dissenting votes to examine within the framework of the NFA effectiveness report 2026-2029 whether there is a need for adjustment in the NFA if the disparities between the cantons increase disproportionately with the introduction of the OECD minimum tax.
SwissHoldings welcomes the preparation of the report.
At the same time, we would like to point out that the effects of the OECD minimum tax on resource equalization are manifold and difficult to predict. Tax-attractive cantons such as Zug or Basel-Stadt could tend to be among the losers in terms of location attractiveness and thus, after a few years, also in terms of resource equalization. In contrast, cantons such as Zurich or Aargau could be among the winners. Also, supplementary taxes will not simply accrue in Basel-Stadt and Zug or other low-tax cantons. Zurich also offers companies attractive tax conditions, which is why supplementary taxes can be expected there. At the same time, it must be taken into account that the affected companies will adjust to the new framework conditions, respectively the changed international location competition. In other words, the situation in resource equalization is only likely to have readjusted a few years after the start of the OECD minimum taxation in 2024.