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A tax trick for billionaires

For years, the Bern tax administration will send a crystal clear message: The foreign billionaires, the one in Gstaad, the advantage of the flat tax, and "cheap". "In any case, I guarantee that we will not negotiate cheap Deals and also no "tax gifts" to distribute," said Berns at the time the cantonal tax administrator Bruno Knüsel 2012. Two years later, one of Gstaad's billionaires said to himself, namely, Ex-formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, he'll pay in Switzerland, "a lot of taxes". Check these warranties were never.

Until now.

The Recherchedesk of Tamedia tax data from a number of wealthy Gstaad for the first time. They come from before 2015, as these data were generally open to the public. In the Canton of Bern, the French sugar king Jean-Claude Mimran, the Greek Glamour paid accordingly, the Pair of Theodoros and Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, as well as Bernie Ecclestone, in the years 2008 to 2011, around 400'000 to 500'000 Swiss francs for the cantonal, Federal and municipal taxes.

Ex-formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said in 2014, he'll pay in Switzerland, "a lot of taxes".

All three are, according to all public indications, from simple to multiple billionaires. Your tax data and other documents, it can be concluded that all the three paid for at the time, a flat tax. It is possible that you paid is also elsewhere taxes . None has responded to requests. But if one is taxed at a flat rate in Switzerland, it can keep its charges abroad are extremely low. Thanks to the data is now clearly for the first Time, how little had to pay a fortune to a billionaire with a lump sum tax in Switzerland, sometimes even For two times billionaire 500'000 Swiss francs in taxes than 0.025 percent of its assets – that is, a four thousandths.

Only cost-domestic

To do this, you need to know: a lump sum is not taxed taxed according to their income and total wealth, but according to their cost of living. The big question is, of course, what is meant by that, exactly?

The Federal tax management (FTA) has established already in 1993, with clear guidelines. Have to pay tax on it accordingly, the cost of living, the "incurred at home and abroad". The FTA added that even a long list of what counts for everything here, including riding horses, travel, private jets and yachts.

For Ecclestone, the Canton of Bern in the years 2008 to 2011, a life-long effort of 981'500 Swiss francs for the couple Angelopoulos in the same period, 1'278'600 Swiss francs for Mimran 1'060'000 in the years 2010 and 2011. In this effort, the taxes you pay are counted. Their official "cost of living", net of taxes, were still more than a third lower.

image to enlarge

however, looking at the Lifestyles of these billionaires, one comes to the conclusion that this can hardly votes. If only the item "yachts" from the living list to the FTA, on quite different Figures.

Ecclestone had at the time, the 40-million-yacht Petara. The value of the yacht, the Alfa Nero of Angelopoulos was even estimated to be around $ 150 million. Of Mimran, the sentence: "money is to Spend there, I strip my game stuff", such an "indecent expensive" yacht.

In the case of yachts according to the Convention industry voice information as a rule of thumb: The maintenance, including Crew, fuel, moorage, and so on, will cost the owner annually, approximately 10 percent of the original price. This means that only for the maintenance of their yachts the billionaires gave back a multiple of what was accepted by the Bern tax administration as your taxable livelihood.

What went wrong here?

The Bern tax administration did not want to speak to the individual cases. She says, however, you check the in - and foreign living expenses. "To be able to the costs for the maintenance of yachts, we confirm that each of these can be obtained explicitly." Thus, the puzzle is rather larger.

cantons disregard "applicable law"

bringing clarity to several background conversations with experts were informed both on the part of the taxpayers as well as the Canton of the practice. According to them, the tax administration at the time, was one contrary to their statements today, only the expenditure in the domestic as living expenses. The maintenance of yachts and villas abroad is not included here.

Just yachts would also often anonymous foreign company. In such cases, you would not be counted as living expenses. Because the billionaires Ecclestone, Mimran, and Angelopoulos, 2008 to 2011, Switzerland had, of course, no massive spending, have Bern carried at their cost of living is correspondingly low.

in fact, in the then-applicable regulation, to the "annual cost-of-living" can be calculated. Having regard to some legal experts, that certain cantons have interpreted in such a way that only the expenditure in the domestic could be meant, although the Federal government made via FTA as already mentioned, in 1993, made it unequivocally clear that the global effort is meant to be. In 2011, the Federal Council even wrote it yourself, explicitly, in the case of a lump sum to be taxed "to take into account all costs, regardless of whether they are incurred In Switzerland or abroad". The "applicable law".

But some of the cantons over to put simply about it and do it, possibly today. Bern is not alone. The Canton of Jura, for example, lobbyierte in 2011, the Federal Council, that we should calculate the global effort, because otherwise, "was made a Central advantage of the expenditure-based taxation to naught".

procedure never open

The Problem: there was A broad discussion, whether to respond to the rich foreigners in this way, in such a way or not, never. Because the authorities have placed their never open. As the French in 2013, attacks on the flat tax front, assured the Secretary-General of the cantonal Finance Directors in the media, you would calculate the global effort. In the vote on the abolition of the flat tax in 2014, the voting public have been misinformed. In the voting booklet, it was said, the rich foreigners, the "cost of living In the country and abroad" would be calculated. Opponents of the flat tax have argued in the time of that vote, battle, and would pay a flat rate taxed too little in taxes, and the tax justice was violated. Nobody had at that time but the concrete control data of Gstaad, which are now available. With you it would have come to a debate on the living expenses abroad.

Was taxed advantageously: Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Photo: Bong arts/

SP-national Council member Margret Kiener Nellen tried at the time, which is actually public tax data for the billionaires in Gstaad. However, since the Berne tax administration have not acted on the Plan. While she assured the public to make tax gifts, she fought on the Front lines to keep the control data of the billionaires in front of Kiener-Nellen secret. As a reason, the tax administration called in the dispute with the SP-wife, among other things, that this data could be used in a voting campaign.

it was not Until years after the votes, the Federal court came to the conclusion that it is impossible to keep the data secret. The judge also wrote why: the release of The data of the billionaires contribute to a "discussion about tax justice."

But the discussion is now very late. Meanwhile, the Federal government has realised that the cantons, contrary to the billionaires. The revised legislation to the flat tax entered into force in 2016. Now is explicitly stated in the law that the worldwide cost of living apply.

Pay Ecclestone, Mimran and co. much more today? May not. It is a five-year transitional period is still running. If you continue to ignore the Federal requirements, calculate the cantons until the end of 2020, only the domestic expenditure of a lump sum-taxed billionaires.

(editing Tamedia)

Created: 31.03.2019, 18:43 PM

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