Tax Controversy In Switzerland

Author:Dr. Ruth Bloch-Riemer
Profession:Baer & Karrer



What is the relevant legislation relating to tax administration and controversies? Other than legislation, are there other binding rules for taxpayers and the tax authority?

Legislation governing tax administration (including non-judicial tax-assessment procedures) as well as material tax law is based on the Swiss Federal Constitution, the relevant Swiss federal laws (eg, with regard to (i) income and corporate income taxes, the Federal Direct Tax Act (DBG); (ii) withholding taxes, the Federal Act on Withholding Taxes (VStG); (iii) securities issue and transfer taxes, the Federal Act on Stamp Duties (StG); and (iv) value added tax, the Federal Act on Value Added Tax (MWSTG)) and cantonal legislation (eg, with regard to cantonal income and corporate income taxes, wealth taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, real estate capital gains taxes and property transfer taxes). Further legislation relating to tax administration matters can be found in federal, cantonal and communal ordinances and, in practice, the federal and cantonal judicial authorities' and federal and cantonal tax authorities' published practice (eg, Federal Tax Administration's circular letters, Federal Tax Conference's publications, cantonal guidelines).

Legislation governing tax controversies, including non-judicial tax objection procedures, is based on the legal foundations as set out above. The legislation for judicial (appeal) proceedings can be found in the Swiss Federal Constitution and the relevant Swiss federal procedural laws (eg, the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure (VwVG), the Federal Act on the Federal Administrative Court (VGG) and the Federal Act on the Federal Supreme Court (BGG)), as well as the cantonal procedural laws.

The following questionnaire mainly focuses on income, wealth, corporate income and capital taxes governed by the DBG unless otherwise mentioned.

Relevant authority

What is the relevant tax authority and how is it organised?

The administration of taxation in Switzerland is divided between the Federal Tax Administration, the 26 cantonal tax administrations and the communal tax authorities. Social security contributions are administrated by separate, typically cantonal, authorities.

The cantonal tax administrations are responsible for the correct and uniform assessment and the collection of the taxes for the federal government, cantons and municipalities. In addition, they carry out the federal and cantonal tax laws. Real...

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