Swiss to vote on “millionaires’ tax.” Cue scare stories

   0   0 Blog

Swiss flagOn November 30 Swiss people will vote in a referendum on the so-called “lump-sum taxation” system, a preferential tax regime for certain wealthy foreigners who are resident in Switzerland but don’t work there. To simplify, the 5,000-odd people who qualify for this special tax regime get taxed according to their living and spending costs in Switzerland, rather than on their income. It is a very cushy regime for some.

Now despite all that Switzerland has done as a harmful tax haven, there is also a significant egalitarian streak in Swiss society and many Swiss people are fed up with mollycoddling the world’s rich. The new referendum would see the lump sum tax system, known as the “millionaires’ tax,” being abolished and those rich people would just pay their taxes like anyone else. It is a referendum on tax justice – at least as far as it goes.

Cue a raft of scare stories that all of Switzerland’s millionaires will decamp to Monaco and London if the referendum passes. We’ve seen these scare stories all before, the world over.

Opponents of the tax cite a study by two economists at the University of Lausanne and Humboldt University in Berlin, saying it will cost thousands of jobs. Swissinfo reports:

“The problem is that the study was not commissioned by the Federal Tax Administration, as the alpine canton group communiqué suggests but by Plus-Value Suisse, a private lobbying group that openly campaigns for maintaining lump sum taxation.”

And of course the scare stories rely on ridiculous assumptions, such as estimates that all – yes all – of the affected people will up sticks, rip their kids out of local schools, and leave Switzerland at the first whiff of tax. Experience shows that tax is usually some way down the list of wealthy people’s priorities.

And we’ll quote Frédéric Charpie, the national coordinator of the campaign for the abolition of lump sum taxation.

“In Zurich, villas that were evacuated by lump sum taxpayers, who often moved to neighbouring cantons, were then occupied by new millionaires, who paid more taxes.”

But don’t expect any of this to stop the scare stories. The livelihood of a few accountants and lawyers is at stake, and don’t expect them to accept this quietly.

Related Posts

UN must defend target to curtail multinational companies’ tax abuse

Photo by Luca Santori, Creative Commons LicenseThe Tax Justice Network, The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the UN Secretary General to make sure the commitment to action on tax abuses by multinational companies remains part of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.


The BVI: Responsible for worldwide tax losses of $37.5 billion a year

BVI report blogAn extraordinary report by consultants Capital Economics, for BVI Finance, claims that the British Virgin Islands are responsible for $1.5 trillion of assets invested around the world, and that these result in 2.2 million jobs and $15 billion in tax revenue. A better approximation would be that the BVI imposes global tax losses of $37.5 […]


Event: Making Tax Work for Women in the UK and Globally

Invitation_ Tax and Gender eventOn Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 16.30 our very own Liz Nelson will be speaking at an event in London that aims to bring together gender and tax justice advocates to highlight the need for coherent and gender-responsive fiscal policies to safeguard the rights of women and girls both in the UK and globally. The […]


Historic event on women, human rights and tax justice in Bogota

BogotaLast week civil society organisations, researchers, labour union activists and policy makers met in Bogota, Colombia to explore how tax justice issues can ensure governments, multinational corporations and others meet their obligations to women in order to secure their full range of human rights. The Women’s Rights and Tax Justice conference opened with a conversation […]


The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top