In a significant move, the Swiss electorate and cantons have voted in favor of implementing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) global minimum tax of 15% for large multinational enterprises operating in Switzerland.
This constitutional amendment was supported by an overwhelming majority, with 78.45% of voters and all cantons endorsing the proposal.
The implementation of the OECD minimum tax aims to safeguard Switzerland's tax receipts and maintain its position as a stable business location.
Context of the vote
The global minimum tax initiative has been developed by the OECD and the Group of 20 countries to establish a uniform minimum tax rate worldwide.
Under this framework, multinational companies with a global annual turnover exceeding €750 million will be subject to a minimum tax rate of 15% in each country they operate in.
Numerous countries, particularly in the European Union, plan to introduce the OECD minimum tax on 1 January 2024.
In Switzerland, 21 out of the 26 cantons currently have tax rates below the required 15%. Failure to meet the minimum tax rate would result in the imposition of a supplementary tax to make up the shortfall.
By implementing the minimum tax, Switzerland ensures that its tax receipts remain within the country rather than being shifted to other jurisdictions.
Impact on Companies
It's important to note that the OECD minimum tax will only affect large multinational groups with an annual turnover of at least €750 million.
Small and medium-sized enterprises will not be affected by this amendment.
In Switzerland, approximately 200 internationally active groups headquartered in the country and 2,000 Swiss subsidiaries of foreign groups will be subject to the minimum tax.
As a result, around 99% of companies in Switzerland will continue to be taxed under the existing regulations.
The constitutional amendment to introduce the OECD minimum tax is in Switzerland's best interest.
Without such a provision, jurisdictions in which Swiss multinational groups operate would be entitled to impose a subsequent tax to compensate for the difference in tax burdens, thereby impacting Switzerland's tax revenues. Implementing the minimum tax rate ensures tax stability for Switzerland and provides legal certainty for companies affected by the new international tax rules.
However, it is worth considering the potential impact on tax competition within Switzerland.
High-tax cantons may become more attractive compared to those with lower taxes, as the introduction of the minimum tax limits the extent to which lower tax rates can be used to offset geographical disadvantages.
Switzerland's embrace of the OECD global minimum tax represents a proactive step to secure tax revenues and maintain its status as an internationally stable business location.
By implementing the minimum tax, Switzerland ensures that tax receipts remain within the country and avoids the risk of revenue shifting to other jurisdictions.
While this decision may have implications for tax competition within Switzerland, the overall objective is to create a robust and equitable international tax framework.
The introduction of the OECD minimum tax paves the way for a more uniform global tax system, providing a level playing field for multinational enterprises across different countries.
If you have any queries about this article, or Swiss tax matters in general, then please get in touch.
The content of this article is provided for educational and information purposes only. It is not intended, and should not be construed, as tax or legal advice. We recommend you seek formal tax and legal advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the contents of this article.