National Council against report on tax evasion
The National Council does not want to know the extent to which taxes are evaded in Switzerland. On Wednesday he refused to demand a report from the Federal Council.
With 135 votes to 57 with 1 abstention, the Council on Wednesday rejected a postulate by SP National Councillor Mattea Meyer (ZH). The latter argued in vain that tax evasion was not a trivial offence.
Meyer said that this meant that large sums of money escaped the public purse. It is in the interest of honest taxpayers to take action against it. In order to do this, it is essential to know more about the extent of tax evasion and the characteristics of tax evaders.
Meyer suggested that the data from the unpunished voluntary reports be included in the analysis. Data from the "Panama Papers" and the "Paradise Papers" should also be considered.
The Federal Council opposed the initiative. In his view, it would be difficult to obtain reliable estimates. One reason for this is that it is difficult to distinguish between tax evasion and tax avoidance, said Finance Minister Ueli Maurer.
In connection with the advance, Thomas Matter (SVP/ZH) and Margret Kiener Nellen (SP/BE) clashed. Matter asked whether Kiener Nellens' tax return, which hit the headlines a few years ago, was still tax optimisation or had already been tax evaded.
Kiener Nellen was outraged by the question. She justified the zero income that she and her husband had declared in 2011. This had to do with a one-off pension fund deduction by her husband, she said. Optimization would have been to spread the deduction over several years.
No increased due diligence
The National Council also rejected other approaches to tax offences. For example, he spoke out against aiding and abetting tax offences abroad being sanctioned in Switzerland. Motioneer Meyer argued in vain that Switzerland is home to numerous multinational companies and the world's largest hub for cross-border wealth management. This leading role is accompanied by an additional responsibility.
The National Council also rejected a motion by SP National Councillor Schneider Schüttel (FR) calling for increased due diligence for transactions with offshore financial centres. The revelations of the "Panama Papers" and the "Paradise Papers" suggested that the reporting obligation regarding relations with offshore financial centres has so far been insufficiently observed, Schneider Schüttel noted. The majority, however, were of the opinion that the current regulations were sufficient.