Jurisdiction Overview Switzerland
The country has a total population of approximately 7.5 million, with a large ex-pat community, and is renowned for its neutrality, its direct democracy and its financial centres. Switzerland remains one of the richest and most economically powerful nations in the world.
Key areas in the economy are financial services and the head offices of a wide range of multi-national companies, including many luxury goods manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. In addition it is one of the leading commodity trading centres, as well as being a European base for the United Nations. Part of its economic prowess undoubtedly springs from its long history of political stability, and though it is not a member of the EU a bilateral agreement ensures a close working relationship and a sufficient flow of labour to meet the demands for an educated work force in Switzerland.
Taxation is determined by each individual canton; the cantons fix their own private and corporate tax rates, whilst federal taxes are applicable to all. It is common practice for corporations and High Net Worth Individuals to obtain tax rulings in advance, with the theoretical possibility of obtaining different rulings in all 26 cantons!
Switzerland has become an attractive location of residence for wealthy individuals, with many cantons willing to fix special tax rates on an individual basis. In July 2007 Switzerland signed the Hague Convention for trusts, which implies official recognition of the trust in Switzerland and makes it one of only a few countries who have signed so far. An official circular has confirmed that trust capital and its revenue belonging to non-Swiss residents will not be subject to taxation in Switzerland. Fiduciary business in Switzerland has been growing rapidly since the Convention was signed and as a result the Swiss trustee is much in demand. Last year saw the establishment of the Swiss Association of Trust Companies (www.satc.ch) to ensure a professional trustee service. ATC (Switzerland) is a member of this organisation.
More traditionally, Switzerland has been popular from a corporate point of view (Swiss holding, trading, and royalty companies are all regularly used by international companies); and the Swiss foundation is well known in the charity field. In addition, and of benefit to both corporations and private clients, the emphasis in Switzerland, and the source of much of its popularity as a financial centre, has been and continues to be, the professional handling and administration of the multitude of non-Swiss entities and structures which can be serviced from Switzerland, in particular making use of individual or corporate relationships with the Swiss banks.
ATC, with offices in Geneva, Zug and Zurich, is well-placed to assist private clients looking to base themselves in Switzerland or to service international structures from our Swiss offices.