Italian Consulate Employee Case

Date06 septembre 1978
CourtCantonal Fiscal Appeals Commission (Switzerland)
Switzerland, Cantonal Fiscal Appeals Commission.

Italian Consulate Employee Case

Consular relations Immunity Consular employee National of receiving State Whether entitled to exemption from taxation in receiving State Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, Articles 49(1) and 71(1) Whether Convention codifies pre-existing rule of customary international law The law of Switzerland

Summary: The facts:A Swiss national, employed by the Italian Consulate in the Canton of Argovia, appealed against the imposition of tax on his income by the Canton.

Held:The appeal was dismissed.

Articles 49(1) and 71(1) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations rendered nationals of the receiving State employed by foreign consulates liable to taxation on their salaries and laid down different treatment for such persons from that accorded to employees who were nationals of the sending State or a third State. The refusal to grant fiscal exemption in such circumstances had been legitimately based on customary international law even prior to the Vienna Convention.

The following is the text of the relevant part of the judgment of the Court:

3. Paragraph 4 of the [Argovian] Law of 17 May 1966 on direct taxation by the State and the Local Authorities makes that law subject to the provisions of federal law and treaties concluded between cantons and at the international level. Article 49(1) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963, to which Switzerland became a party by the Federal Decree of 18 December 1964 and which entered into force for Switzerland on 19 March 1967 (RO 1968, pp. 925 and 927), is therefore applicable in this case. Article 49(1) provides:

with certain exceptions which are not relevant here. Nevertheless the scope of this provision is severely limited by Article 71 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Article 71(1) provides:


It follows that nationals of the receiving State who, on the territory of that State, work for a foreign consulate as officers or employees are not exempt from taxation on the salary derived from such activity. Federal law does not grant such consular officers or employees any privilege, immunity or additional facility over and above those derived from the Vienna Convention.

The appellant, a Swiss citizen with his domicile in the municipality in B., is therefore subject to cantonal and municipal taxation on the salary derived from his activity at the Italian consulate (Mentrey, Le statut fiscal des...

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